In the first major headway in the case pertaining to rape-accused absconding Uttar Pradesh minister Gayatri Prajapati, police on Monday arrested his gunner Chandrapal Singh.
“Chandrapal (Prajapati’s personal security officer) was arrested near Police Lines here,” Additional Superintendent of Police (East) Shivram Yadav said.
“We are interrogating Chandrapal and trying to extract information and whereabouts about rest of the minister’s accomplices. The police is also conducting raids at locations revealed by the arrested gunner,” he said.
He added Chandrapal will be produced before court on Tuesday.
Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Daljit Chaudhary said efforts have been intensified to track down the minister against whom a non-bailable warrant has been issued.
“UP Police Special Task Force has been roped in to trace the elusive minister,” he said.
The continuance of Prajapati as a minister has raised serious questions of “constitutional morality and dignity,” with Governor Ram Naik writing a letter to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, seeking to know if he “justifies” having the tainted minister in his Cabinet.
Prajapati’s passport has already been impounded and a look-out notice issued against him. The UP Police had already asked the ministry of external affairs to cancel Prajapati’s passport.
Prajapati was booked on Supreme Court directive and the case pertains to alleged gang rape of a woman and attempt to rape her minor of daughter.
Chandrapal, when approached by mediapersons, said, “False allegations have been levelled against me. I went to Police Lines to voluntarily deposit my service pistol. I was arrested there. I was told my name is there in the FIR.”
He clarified that he was not absconding or hiding along with the minister. “I did not even have any telephonic conversation with him (Prajapati),” he said.
Asked whether he was involved in the gang rape, he said, “The victim is lying. I perform my duty. I was with Prajapati till February 27 and have no clue about him after that day.
Earlier in the day, Prajapati failed to get relief from the Supreme Court which expressed unhappiness that its order on lodging of FIR against the SP leader was being given “political colour”.
A bench headed by Justice A K Sikri clarified that it has only ordered the Uttar Pradesh Police to lodge an FIR against Prajapati in cases of alleged gang rape and attempt to rape a woman and her daughter and is not monitoring these cases.
The minister can approach the court concerned for appropriate relief, the apex court said while rejecting Prajapati’s plea for recall of its order for lodging an FIR against him.
The apex court had on February 17 directed the UP Police to lodge an FIR against Samajwadi Party leader Prajapati and asked it to submit an action taken report regarding the incidents in eight weeks in a sealed cover.
“We have simply directed registration of an FIR and investigation in these cases,” the bench said, adding, “now political colour is being given to this order. It is unfortunate”.
“Let the police investigate this matter and say whatever they want,” the apex court said.
Prajapati, whose opponents have used the issue in electioneering in poll-bound state to attack him and his party, has cried foul alleging that it is a “politically motivated” case as the complainant is affiliated to the Bharatiya Janata Party.