Despite steps to keep the politics clean, all is not well in the poll-bound Uttar Pradesh.
Or what else could explain the emergence of contract killers, weapon suppliers and liquor/narcotic smugglers during the last two months.
Sample this: On January 12, when the security guards posted on the gate of Naini central jail in Allahabad were preparing for the shift in duty, a youth riding on a motorcycle stopped there.
While the guards remained busy in conversation, the youth went into the office of the jail superintendent and handed him a letter. Without verifying his identity, the officer took him to the cell in which the dreaded gangster of West UP Udham Singh was lodged.
Singh scribbled a few names on a slip and handed it back to the youth with the instruction that the work should be done before first phase polling.
The visitor was told to collect the money from a toll plaza contractor in Noida after accomplishing the task. Unaware that his movement from Ghaziabad to Allahabad was under electronic surveillance of UP Special Task Force (STF), the youth drove to the railway station but was nabbed near CMP Degree College Bridge in Allahabad.
The arrested person was Praveen Kumar Pal, a contract killer wanted by the police in several cases of murders and extortions.
Pal told cops that he had been told to collect Rs 40 lakh from two traders in Meerut who are close to a politician. He was also given a contract to kill an influential Muslim trader in Ghaziabad during the election campaign. He also supplied a pistol and revolvers to politicians in Sultanpur and Jaunpur districts in East UP.
Political killings and gangster in fray
During 2014 Lok Sabha elections, BJP leader Vijay Pandit was killed in the Dadri area of Gautam Buddha Nagar district leading to tension in West UP.
In February last year, killing of VHP leader Arun Kumar Mahaur in Agra had led to communal tension.
The investigation showed that contract killers belonging to Sundar Bhati and Ravindra Bhura were roped in to execute the murders, said a policeman.
Similarly, the role of members of Anil Dujana gang active in west UP came to light in the killing of Pandit. A police officer said Dujana lodged in Banda district jail contested the local body election from behind the bar and secured victory from a ward in Noida last year.
On January 10, the STF arrested a contract killer Ashok Pehalwan on Muzzafarnagar- Meerut highway. Ashok was serving life term in jail but managed to escape from police custody in 2011. “He was given ‘supari’ (contract) to kill an influential gram pradhans in Shamli during the election campaign,” said a police officer.
Notorious gangster of East UP, Chandan Singh who escaped from police custody on June 1 was on extortion spree in Gorakhpur, Allahabad, Lucknow and Sultanpur districts threatening the businessman and builders considered close to politicians. He had made a safe hideout in Gujarat while members of his gang were on move collecting money and arms. STF arrested him in the last week of December in Ahmedabad.
Talking to HT, SSP, STF, Amit Pathak said, to check the activities of contract killers, gun suppliers and liquor smugglers during assembly election the STF has increased its vigil across the state. The information about the activities of criminal gangs was being collected through electronic surveillance and informers. The STF has worked out 46 cases in January, busted gangs involved in extortion, murder, arms and liquor supply, he said.
Some dreaded gangsters such Mukhtar Ansari, Munna Bajrangi, Brajesh Singh, Sundar Bhati, Anil Dujana, Dharmendra Kirthal, Amit Kasna, Yogesh Bhadaura, Sushil Moonch Mukeem Kala, Babloo Srivastava and Khan Mubarak are running their crime machine from prison.
While Mukhtar is contesting election on BSP ticket, the kin of Bajrangi, Brajesh and Bhati are also in fray. The members of their gang who might use muscle power to intimidate the rivals or voters are on the radar of the police.
Jails under scanner
To keep a check on the activities of jailed criminals the election commission has directed the state government to strictly implement the ban on use of mobile phones by undertrials.
“While the district administration officers have been directed to conduct surprise raids on jails, the prison department has been told to install jammers there,” said ADG (law and order) Daljit Singh Chaudhary.
Besides, the prison officers have been told to maintain vigil on the activities of notorious undertrials and visitors meeting them.
Keeping in tune with the order, a police team led by Allahabad DM Sanjay Kumar and SP Salabh Mathur raided Naini central jail on Tuesday last.
They were surprised to find that jammers were closed and gangster-turned-politician Kapilmuni Karvaria, his brother Udaybhan Karvaria and Surajbhan Karvaria were enjoying all the facilities including that of mobile phone.
A family member from Karvariya family, Neelam is contesting election from Meja seat in Allahabad district. The trio had been shifted to Mirzapur district jail.
Weapon/liquor smugglers make noise
The cops are also worried over the sudden surge in illegal weapon market during election. SSP STF Amit Pathak said the teams have been directed to track down the weapon and liquor smugglers.
While a week is left for the first phase polling the police has already seized 10,98,882 bulk litre liquor worth Rs 29 crore.
During investigation it was detected that liquor was smuggled from neighbouring states for distribution before poll in various constituencies.
On Wednesday, the STF nabbed a gun smuggler Mohar Singh in Bareilly and seized 30 country made pistols. Singh told the police officers that demand of illegal weapon has increased in the poll and to make fast buck he smuggled the weapon from Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. The election commission has directed the licenced firearms owners to deposit their weapons in the police station before poll. Already 8,13,903 weapons have been deposited in various districts and 810 licenses have been cancelled.
On January 6, the STF busted an interstate arms smuggler gang and recovered 21 weapons. On January 10, two arms smugglers were arrested in Auraiya district and 13 pistols were seized.