The great whitewash across Uttar Pradesh

Mayawati became chief minister of Uttar Pradesh promising to put criminals behind bars. However, almost from the time she was sworn in, her government has been quietly withdrawing criminal cases against her party's MLAs and MPs — from charges of kidnapping and election violence to rape and murder. Even in the case of Bijnore MLA Shahnawaz Rana, who was suspended from the party in June over an attempt to rape by his aides and relatives, the government has sought withdrawal of a case involving violence during the 2004 Lok Sabha elections.

The process began soon after Mayawati formed the government in May 2007 and is still on. Among the beneficiaries of this "whitewash", being done in the name of "public interest", are known history-sheeters such as D P Yadav, Dhananjay Singh and Jitendra Singh Babloo. Also among them is state BSP president Swami Prasad Maurya and some ministers.

In the cases of some such as Dhananjay Singh and Babloo, the government has ordered withdrawal of more than one case. In several cases where the courts refused to accept that the withdrawal would serve public interest, the government has filed revision applications in higher courts.

Jitendra Singh Babloo, Bikapur MLA

A local court in Faizabad allowed withdrawal of a case of extortion and criminal intimidation against Babloo, a history-sheeter, on the government's request in October 2008. The case was lodged by Brijesh Kumar Pandey of Gonda in 2006, accusing the MLA and one Vikram Singh of extorting money from him. In another case against the MLA, involving charges of kidnapping and criminal conspiracy, the government also ordered withdrawal, but a Lucknow court recently rejected the application. Babloo was allegedly involved in the kidnapping of a leading Faizabad-based businessman, Sanjay Jhunjhunwala, in June 2001, for whose release the family reportedly paid a huge ransom. The MLA has now filed a discharge application, citing lack of "direct evidence" against him. Incidentally, Babloo is one of the accused in the case of arson at the residence of state Congress president Rita Bahuguna Joshi.

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