Former Uttar Pradesh cabinet minister and the Samjwadi Party (SP)’s patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav’s close aide, Gayatri Prajapati was arrested today morning in state capital Lucknow. He, along with six other people, is allegedly accused of gang-raping a woman and attempting to rape her 16-year-old daughter as well.
Prajapati had been absconding for over two weeks. He went missing in the middle of campaigning for the UP assembly election after the Supreme Court ordered the state Police to file a case against him.
He is likely to be produced before the POCSO Court later in the day. The other six people named in the FIR along with the 49-year-old SP leader have already been picked up by the Police.
In the just-concluded Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Prajapati has lost to BJP from Amethi, the seat he held.
Here’s all you should know about this politician from the Samajwadi Party, and why he is in the news nowadays:
- Gayatri Prajapati has been contesting elections since 1993, but has been mostly unsuccessful. In 2012, he became a MLA for the first time after he defeated Congress’s Ameeta Singh, a local heavyweight, at the Amethi seat, which is a part of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s Lok Sabha constituency. The victory in the 2012 elections was followed by a meteoric rise for Prajapati, who comes from a poor family but grew in local politics after becoming a contractor.
- He was assigned the Mining and Minerals cabinet post because of his close relation with Prateek Yadav. Interestingly, he was BPL (Below Poverty Line) card holder in 2002. However, he declared his property worth 1.83 crores in the 2012 UP assembly elections. Currently, he is alleged to possess assets worth Rs 942.57 crore.
- Apart from the rape case, he has also been mired in the controversies and allegations of corruption and land grabbing cases throughout his tenure, even leading to the Lokayukta to probe a case of disproportionate assets against him. In 2014, a widow from Amethi even staged a dharna in the heart of Lucknow accusing him of land grabbing.
- He also became the central point of the controversy involving IPS Amitabh Thakur who alleged that Mulayam threatened him on telephone after a case was filed against Prajapati.
- In September 2016, a few weeks after Allahabad High Court asked the CBI for a report on whether illegal mining was being carried out in the state with the collusion of authorities, Akhilesh sacked Prajapati from the Cabinet. He was, however, re-inducted soon afterward, as it became clear that the sacking was the fallout of the feud in the SP’s first family, and that Mulayam was in the favour of Prajapati’s return.
- The former UP minister has also been accused of several rapes and gang rape cases. In one such case of gang rape, the eight accused involved not only the SP leader but also the son of a district magistrate and a state Secretariat employee. It is in connection with this gang rape case that the Supreme Court on February 17 ordered the registration of an FIR against him.
- The woman who was allegedly raped by Gayatri Prajapati and his aides, has alleged that the minister took pictures of her being raped and later used those picture to blackmail her and sexually assaulted her for months. The complainant has also alleged that Prajapati asked her to bring her 16-year-old daughter to his residence where he and his aides attempted rape on her.