Police launched a state-wide manhunt on Friday to arrest expelled BJP leader Dayashankar Singh for comparing Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati to a prostitute, remarks that have triggered a storm of protests in Uttar Pradesh.
Thousands of angry BSP workers thronged the central avenues of Lucknow on Thursday, burning Singh’s effigies and demanding his arrest. The demonstration was called off after the state administration promised to nab him in 36 hours.
Police are under pressure to arrest Singh – who is on the run – before the window expires on Saturday. Rumours are rife that Singh might have fled to neighbouring Nepal or Bihar but his supporters say he might soon surrender in court.
“We are monitoring the situation and party workers will take on the road if Singh was not brought to justice,” said BSP national general secretary Naseemuddin Siddiqui, threatening to re-launch the agitation if police failed to arrest Singh.
The remarks have triggered massive protests and a political storm in Parliament with all parties coming together to back Mayawati. The BJP sacked Singh within hours of the remark with finance minister Arun Jaitley apologizing to the Dalit leader.
But the BSP has refused to back off, alleging that the ruling Samajwadi Party in the state was hand-in-glove with the BJP and had arranged a safe hideout for Singh.
The comments have taken a political colour ahead of assembly polls in the state early next year as the Dalit community forms more than a fifth of the state’s population and is likely to prove crucial.
Senior superintendent of police (SSP), Lucknow, Majil Saini said police raided Singh’s residence in Lucknow and Ballia on Thursday but couldn’t trace him.
Police teams also conducted searches at the residence and offices of Singh’s associates in Lucknow and other places. Singh was last seen in Gorakhpur on Wednesday and may have gone underground, she said.
Police also picked up Dharmendra Singh, Singh’s brother, from his native village in Ballia for interrogation but failed to get any information.
ADG (Law and Order) Daljit Singh Chawdhary said Special Task Force (STF) has been directed to assist the Lucknow police in arresting Singh. The police will nab him soon, he said.