THE NEW SUNDAY EXPRESS VOICES ANIRBAN GANGULY ANAND NEELAKANTAN RAVI SHANKAR GAUTAM CHINTAMANI VASUDEV MURTHY MATA AMRITANANDAMAYI MAGAZINE BUFFET PEOPLE WELLNESS BOOKS FOOD ART & CULTURE ENTERTAINMENT JULY 19 2020 SUNDAY PAGES 12 Guns, Girls & Gangs DONS OF UTTAR PRADESH From top: Atiq Ahmed, Shri Prakash Shukla (dead), Vikas Dubey (dead), Sundar Bhati, Archana Balmukund Sharma (whereabouts not known), Babloo Srivastava, Brijesh Singh L The encounter killing of Vikas Dubey again reveals the powerful nexus between politicians, police and the mafia. Who are the top ganglords and how do they operate? By SANJAY BHATNAGAR ‘killer looks’. The influence of organised crime in Bollywood has been widely discussed: femme fatale Archana had a brief acting stint in the ironically named Dev Anandstarrer Gangster before following in her boyfriend’s footsteps. She was wanted in multiple cases of abduction in North India, which she had executed on Srivastava’s behalf. Her whereabouts are unknown after she jumped bail; media reports claimed that she was mysteriously murdered in Nepal. Many of the gangsters are fascinated by Bollywood and ironically their end comes , in the manner similar to several such films. In commercially successful Shootout at Wadala, John Abraham plays Mumbai gangster Manya Surve, an educated criminal who knew how to plan robberies like a pro. He is killed in the movie as was real-life Surve in the city’s first recorded ‘encounter’. For Nayakan, Kamal Haasan won several awards for his portrayal of Varadarajan Mudaliar, an unsophisticated don from South India who dominated the crime scene during the 1980s in Mumbai. Its remake, Dayavan, with Vinod Khanna in the lead, was a box office hit. ate last week on an empty field by the national highway that led to Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh Police shot dead Vikas Dubey, ganglord and small-time politician from Chaubeypur. The template was the same as any encounter killing— the victim grabbed a cop’s pistol and was killed when he fired at the police. Irony of ironies: sub-inspector KK Sharma, one of the two cops arrested for tipping off Dubey, sought the Supreme Court’s protection fearing an encounter against him. The SIT formed by the UP Police to probe the events includes the encounter specialist, DIG J Ravinder Goud, who was booked for killing an innocent man 13 years ago, according to local TV channels. The five-state manhunt for Dubey and his subsequent arrest in Ujjain and death nearly a week after his Gang of Chaubeypur massacred eight policemen in Bikru village reflects the darkness that plagues India, and specifically UP. It points to a lethal nexus involving politicians, policemen and criminals. The 52-year-old Dubey, who was patronised by the system, may have taken many secrets of powerful men to his grave. The full story of his network will never come to light. His life encapsulates the police-caste-politician culture in the heartland where a dreaded criminal becomes a force in the region and eventually contests elections. Dubey was a small-time ‘bahubali’ who grabbed votes for netas at gunpoint in the ’90s. He became a small-time politician after winning the Shivrajpur seat in a Zila Panchayat election from jail where he was serving a murder charge. His epitaph would fit nicely his dreadful monikers—the Gabbar of Bikru and Don of Shivli. What makes Dubey and others of his ilk thrive in the Hindi heartland? The trend of the mafia entering politics in significant numbers began in UP . According to a report, 143 legislators of the total of 403 MLAs in the current UP Assembly have criminal antecedents. THE RISE OF THE DONS Starting in the 1980s, incremental public development activity in UP led to the rise of crime and criminals—a contradiction in itself. Many big gangsters began their career as government tender mafia. They became big railway contractors and bagged other government infrastructure projects. These contracts were finagled using muscle power. They amassed huge wealth. Money begets money They splurged this new . wealth on politicians and government functionaries such as legislators, the police and the general administration. It was, and still is, a mutually beneficial arrangement. Politicians needed criminal muscle power to win elections. As reward for this help, they ensured that their criminal associates had their say in contracts and odious activities such as murder, kidnapping, conspiracy extortion, fraud and , land grab. Governments of the day were reportedly lenient towards them. Some nefarious criminals were Atiq Ahmad who controlled Allahabad and adjoining areas. Abhay Singh, Brijesh Singh and Dhananjay Singh were dons of Eastern UP . Dhunni Singh and later his son Akhilesh Singh ruled Raebareli. Ahmed, now in jail, holds the dubious title of UP’s first crime lord to be booked under the Gangster Act on several accounts of dacoity murder, , extortion and fraud. He is accused of killing BSP MLA Raju Pal who had defeated his brother Ashraf in the 2004 UP state polls. The UP STF killed Shri Prakash Shukla, the ‘lone wolf ’ of the Wild East of crime, in an encounter in September 1998. He was one of the most ruthless gangsters and contract killers active during the 1990s. Shukla allegedly murdered don-turnedGorakhpur MLA Virendra Pratap Shahi, a Bihar minister in Patna and even reportedly took a `6 crore contract to bump off the then BJP CM Kalyan Singh. Shukla’s criminal record includes several sensational kidnappings for ransom, including Lucknow businessman Kunal Rastogi’s son. The 2005 Bollywood flick Sehar revolves around various incidents in his life and his eventual death by police bullets. Sources say Shukla was killed because he had no political godfathers; quite a loaded statement. Some UP gangsters were enchanted by the Mumbai underworld. Take Om Prakash aka ‘Babloo’ Srivastava and his Lucknow-born and -educated girlfriend Archana Balmukund Sharma, who was famous for her MAFIA POLITICIANS ARE BORN The 1980s saw many bloody battles between warring ganglords such as Hari Shankar Tiwari and Shahi who became an independent MLA. The much written-about Tiwari is the first organised gangster in UP to successfully enter politics. A self-proclaimed Brahmin leader like Dubey he , contested as the Congress candidate from Chillupar constituency in Gorakhpur in 1982 and became a state Cabinet Minister. He later played footsie with BSP for a while and managed to enroll his sons and nephew into the party “Tiwari . started inspiring young criminals who hankered for a permanent abode in politics after a ‘successful’ stint in crime,” says Manoj Kumar, former SSP of Gorakhpur. This is a standard practice for many mafia leaders to become politicians. Soon criminals realised the potential of their power to influence people and make powerful friends. They resented their henchmen status. They aspired to be independent of politicians. They had both muscle and money so why not become politicians themselves instead of just helping the netas? Abhay took the Samajwadi Party (SP) route. Atiq first joined Apna Dal and later SP Brijesh and . Dhananjay took to the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Coincidentally sworn foes Mulayam Singh , Yadav-led SP and Mayawati-led BSP hold the dubious distinction of politically harbouring several criminals over the last three decades. Both parties enjoyed a large share of power during this period since the exit of the Congress from the state’s helm in 1989. The gangster juggernaut started rolling in the state, in the real sense, from Eastern UP , Gorakhpur to be precise. Atiq is a five-time Independent legislator, who graced Parliament as the MP from Phulpur on SP ticket before being expelled from the party in 2009. Brijesh, promoter of the Pragatisheel Manav Samaj Party , has been behind bars since 2008—he ranks among the most powerful dons in UP His wife . Annapurna Singh and cousin Sushil Singh are a BSP MLC and MLA respectively Many of these . criminals entered crime for personal reasons: Brijesh after avenging his father’s murder in Varanasi and Shri Prakash, for murdering a man who made a pass at his sister. Brijesh supported BJP MLA Krishna Nand Rai, who was killed in 2005 by another gang leader from Eastern UP , Mukhtar Ansari. Ansari, however, was acquitted years after the incident but it is believed that the killing of Rai was the handiwork of his gang and another dreaded criminal Munna Bajrangi, who grew under his tutelage. Incidentally , though in an unrelated incident, Bajrangi was shot dead in 2018 by one Sunil Rathi inside Baghpat District Jail. Brijesh subsequently escaped to Mumbai and became a member of the D-company according to , police sources. However, he split with Dawood after the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts. In 1992, he along with an associate entered a Mumbai hospital posing as a doctor and gunned down a member of the Arun Gawli gang, three policemen and two patients. Sometimes it’s the parties that become opportunistic for survival’s sake. “Main Kunda ko goonda mukt kar doonga (I’ll make Kunda free of goons),” was Kalyan Singh’s the clarion call during the Assembly poll campaign in 1996. The challenge was directed at Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya, the scion of erstwhile princely Bhadri state of Pratapgarh, who is dubbed a mafia don by the press and his opponents. However, in 1997, Raja Bhaiyya, elected from the same Kunda Assembly constituency took oath as a cabinet , minister because the CM needed his support to form government, after a year of the Assembly being in suspended animation. As per the deal, he was to be rewarded with a ministerial berth. The clout Raja Bhaiyya would have wielded as a senior minister ruled out legal Turn to page 2
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