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May 10, 1999


D P Yadav interrogated over absconding son Vicky

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Suhasini Haidar in New Delhi

Rajya Sabha MP D P Yadav, father of the absconding suspect in the Jessica Lal murder case Vikas Yadav, was interrogated by the Delhi police today. Yadav, who spoke to members of the press after his three-hour long interrogation at the Mehrauli police station, claimed he had no knowledge of his son's whereabouts, but would inform the police as soon as he had any information. "We would like to help the police in any way we can," said Yadav, "And I expect that Vikas will come back soon."

According to the police,Vikas Yadav, a sugar mill owner in western Uttar Pradesh, was with chief suspect Manu Sharma on the night of the murder. Police sources said Sharma may have even spent that night at Yadav's home in New Delhi.

While Sharma, who has allegedly admitted killing ex-model Jessica Lal while under the influence of alcohol, has been remanded to police custody, Yadav has been eluding the police since the night of the murder. Two other friends of Sharma's who were with him that night, Tony Singh and Alok Khanna, are already in police custody.

While explaining to the police today that he had been unable to 'meet' his son in the past ten days, Yadav asked for some more time, in order to track his son down. D P Yadav is a controversial figure in Ghaziabad and Western Uttar Pradesh.

According to sources, he started his career by selling country liquor in pouches in the early 1980s. In a few years he was able to acquire the government license for a liquor shop in Dadri, UP. From then onwards his business has burgeoned to the point that today, Yadav is said to control almost two-thirds of the government licensed shops in Uttar Pradesh.

"D P Yadav himself may not be involved in any criminal cases involving violence," says Trilok Tyagi, general secretary of the Lok Dal in Uttar Pradesh, "But people fear him because he surrounds himself with goondas and strongmen. In any case, the liquor business has always had strong links with crime in India."

In Ghaziabad, few people are willing to go on the record with details about Yadav. However, most will point to the phenomenal increase in his fortunes in the past decade. "He is hand in glove with all the authorities, be it excise officials, policemen, or local politicians," they allege.

In 1989, Yadav was ushered into politics by former defence minister and Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav. He then won the MLA seat from Bulandshahr, and joined Mulayam Singh's cabinet in Uttar Pradesh. By the next election, however, he fallen out with his political mentor, and stood against Mulayam Singh from Sambhal, contesting on the Bharatiya Janta Party symbol. He lost that election. Two years later, however, Yadav won over 18 MLAs of the Bahujan Samaj Party, and became the president of the Loktantrik BSP, an event that catapulted him into the Rajya Sabha.

His son,Vikas Yadav, who allegedly accompanied Manu Sharma to the Qutab Colonade on April 29, and then, according to the Delhi police, helped him to escape from Delhi, has has built up a formidable reputation in western Uttar Pradesh.

Although he helps run some of his father's liquor businesses in Uttar Pradesh, his main concern is in some sugar mills in Sambhal. In fact, while the police claim he has been evading arrest for the past ten days, his father had so far maintained that Vikas was actually in the UP hinterlands, negotiating for some machinery for his mills.

Police sources, however, say the reason Vikas Yadav is absconding may be because of another case. In 1991, Vikas was charged along with four others for the murder of a young student in Hathras, UP. According to their records, the student, Devinder Kumar, was shot to death in Ghaziabad. Vikas was incriminated by the statement of the victim's father.

Police sources say Vikas might fear that even if he is arrested for a short period for escorting Manu Sharma, he may end up with a far longer stint in prison for his alleged role in the earlier murder case. "After all, why would he evade the police for so long if it was only a question of the Manu Sharma case, in which his crime is a bailable offence?" asked an officer investigating the killing.

Technically, Yadav could face a jail sentence for withholding his son's whereabouts. Yet, few believe that with the clout he wields, that either Yadav or his son Vikas will be brought to book for that offence, assuming it can be proved. "You can't just arrest him, he is a member of Parliament, an ex-minister of UP, and an extremely powerful man," said a police source today.

However, most concede that summoning D P Yadav for interrogation this afternoon was in itself an indicator that the patience of the Delhi police may be running out. And it remains to be seen just how soon their efforts will yield the missing suspect, Vikas Yadav.

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