Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has always portrayed himself as intolerant towards politicians with a criminal background. He even went against his uncle and indulged in a public spat to refuse an alliance with mafia-don Mukhtar Ansari. But has this stand now been diluted? The young CM recently withdrew several cases against mafia don leaders. Not just this, he also gave a ticket to his close aide and ‘mafia king’ Abhay Singh.

Samajwadi Party leader Abhay Singh is contesting from the Gosaiganj constituency in Faizabad. Police records reveal that the criminal-turned-politician has over a dozen serious criminal cases filed against him.

Though it is believed that Akhilesh has done a lot of development works in the state, the bad law and order situation of the state has always been a serious problem ever since he became the CM.

His fear is such that though people openly speak against him, no one is ready to come in front of the camera. “Abhay has 32 cases registered against him. They include extortion, kidnapping, and murder,” a senior police official said on the condition of anonymity.

More than being famous for being a politician in the Gosaiganj constituency, Singh is infamous for being a don or ‘mafia king’. In Faizabad district, this notorious don has been calling the shots for many years.

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For a good part of former CM Mayawati’s five-year reign between 2007 and 2012, Singh spent time in the Hamirpur Jail. But on 17 March 2012, two days after Akhilesh took over as the Chief Minister, Singh was moved to Faizabad Jail. The state government had then claimed that Singh’s life was in danger in Hamirpur Jail. Back in his stronghold, Singh lived his life like a king despite being behind bars.

Later in 2012, he was released from jail after the Akhilesh government withdrew the Gangster Act slapped on him by the Mayawati government. The Gangster Act is slapped on those running serious criminal and anti-social activities which are organised in nature.

Not just in Gosaiganj but his terror is spread in other parts of Faizabad and nearby regions too. InUth approached a few people who got ready to speak on him on camera but only after an assurance that their identity will be kept unknown.

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“We cannot speak openly about Abhay Singh. If he comes to know about me then I am not sure whether he’ll let me live or not,” said Ram Kishan (name changed).

“Abhay Singh hasn’t done even a single good work in this constituency. We are afraid of him and his goons, they don’t respect anyone. He is a mafia and is involved in almost all illegal activities. Akhilesh says, ‘kaam bolta hai’ par yaha to ‘criminal bolta hai’ (Akhilesh Yadav says the work is visible but here only a criminal is visible),” said a villager.

If not under Gangster Act, it is next to impossible to convict a mafia don in Uttar Pradesh. In a case against criminals, either the investigation is lax or witnesses turn hostile. He was accused of his involvement in the sensational murder of Lucknow Jail Superintendent RK Tiwari but he was acquitted after all 36 witnesses turned hostile.

“Such is his courage that he and his supporters had blocked Additional Director General of Police Rai Umapati Ray’s vehicle at Rudauli on the Lucknow-Gorakhpur national highway in Faizabad district and intimidated him,” said a young guy from Singh’s constituency.

Significantly, Akhilesh had promised that if voted to power, the Samajwadi Party will put all goons and mafias behind bars. So has Akhilesh Yadav, over the years, scaled down his stand against criminals just to remain in power?