AN UTTAR Pradesh MLA is being linked to a contract killing that was to be executed at a farmhouse on the Jaipur-Ajmer National Highway last week.
The State police have arrested four gangsters, said to be on the payrolls of the MLA’s alleged “muscleman”. They were assigned to carry out the killings near Jaipur.
According to the police, the MLA, Om Prakash Gupta of the ruling Samajwadi Party, has a known record of criminal charges.
Gupta is facing nearly five dozen charges of murder, attempt to murder, dacoity, kidnapping and loot, among others, in different districts of UP.
Gupta, according to the police, has the dubious distinction of facing the largest number of criminal, especially murder, charges, among all the UP legislators.
When contacted, Gupta denied the allegations. “The arrested men have no connection with me. They may be connected to my rivals,” he said.
“There are 80 cases against me. But all these cases have been filed by the administration and the mafia,” he said.
According to the police, the arrested men’s target was a leading marble businessman of Rajasthan at whose farmhouse the killers were “tipped off” to get at least crore rupees in cash, anytime.
The plan was, however, foiled as the Bharatpur police intercepted the four gangsters and arrested them after a fierce gunbattle on October 6. The gang was armed with “sophisticated” country-made firearms.
The professional killers had entered Rajasthan in an Ambassador car that belonged to a block pramukh from the MLA’s constituency, police said. The car (UP-25-8888) was intercepted at the Uncha-Nagala police check-post, 15 km inside the State on the Bharatpur-Agra road.
At the core of the criminal conspiracy could be the SP MLA from Misrikh, suspect the state police.
“The four armed men we arrested have confessed to be on the payrolls of Shakeel, who is notorious as the ‘muscleman’ of MLA Om Prakash Gupta,” said SP (Bharatpur), Anand Srivastava.
According to the police, Shakeel, the MLA’s muscleman and local mafioso of Sitapur, too, is wanted in 32 criminal cases of murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping and loot among others. The third “core” man in the conspiracy is block pramukh, Ram Kinkar Pandey, believed to be close to the MLA, said police.
The arrested men have been identified as Pawan Kumar (shooter of Shakeel), Ram Nath (private gunner of Pandey), Vishwajeet Yadav and Mithilesh. “While we have evidence against Shakeel and Pandey, our team, sent to Sitapur, is also probing if Gupta was involved in the conspiracy,” the SP said.
As per the confessions made before the police by the arrested gangsters, they were to reach the parking place at Sindhi Camp in Jaipur, where another gang member would have revealed to them the identity of their “target”. When they started from UP, they were only told that their target was a marble businessman who had a farmhouse on the Jaipur-Ajmer national highway. “On the basis of the gangsters’ information, we have selected 25 of the roughly 600 farmhouses on the highway. Now, we are zeroing in to know which of these was on the criminals’ hit list.”