Samajwadi Party leader and former Uttar Pradesh minister Gayatri Prajapati, who was arrested in Lucknow on Wednesday on charges of gang rape, spent a sleepless night in Lucknow district jail.
The former minister skipped the meal at night and lay on the floor of a quarantine barrack, along with at least 32 undertrials lodged there. He did not have breakfast on Thursday morning.
Prajapati, who was usually seen surrounded by supporters in the past five years, kept himself to a corner and spent the entire day on Thursday without speaking much with his six other associates lodged in the same barrack.
“He was found awake every time jail guards checked the barrack on Wednesday-Thursday intervening night,” superintendent of Lucknow district jail SK Mishra said.
Sources said jail authorities checked Prajapati’s barrack multiple times in the past 24 hours to convey a stern message that no special treatment would be given to him. A jail guard said it was also done as initially, Prajapati showed arrogance when he was brought to jail on Wednesday afternoon.
“He behaved arrogantly with the jail guard and asked him to open the big gate for his entry. He, however, had to enter through a narrow and small gate,” the guard said.
The guard said jail personnel even checked Prajapati thoroughly by asking him to remove his clothes before allowing him entry into the premises. The former minister was initially hesitant in removing his clothes but had to follow the instructions, he added.
Prajapati refused to have the meal that was brought for the jail inmates on Wednesday night and only had tea on Thursday morning, said the guard. He added that the former minister had a bowl of Urad daal and three chapatis in the afternoon.
The guard said some of his family members and supporters reached the jail on Thursday afternoon and requested authorities for a meeting with him but only two of them were allowed to talk to him from behind a grill.
Prajapati, who lost from Amethi in the just-concluded assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, was arrested from Para area on Wednesday morning, nearly two weeks after he went missing.
He was booked on a Supreme Court directive and an FIR was lodged on February 17 against the minister and six others for allegedly gangraping a woman and attempting to rape her minor daughter. He was sent to jail for 14 days by the court.
In the FIR registered with Gautampalli police station on February 18, the 35-year-old woman from Chitrakoot accused Prajapati and six of his aides of raping her when she met them for a mining contract in 2013.
He is also accused of taking obscene photos of the woman and threatening her of making the pictures public and raping her for the past three years. However, Prajapati claimed it to be a conspiracy of the BJP in order to distract people’s attention from the assembly polls.
Prajapati, who was considered a favourite of SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, had won the last assembly poll from Amethi constituency and was inducted in the state cabinet as mining minister later. He enjoyed immense political clout during the SP government.
Prajapati was sacked by former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav from his cabinet in 2016 during a bruising feud with his father Mulayam Singh Yadav and uncle Shivpal Yadav. He was later reinstated, triggering outrage and denting the law-and-order plank that Akhilesh was running his campaign on.