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Court relief for Amar, crackdown continues

Lucknow, April 17: The Samajwadi Party today got a reprieve from Mayavati’s unrelenting fury when Allahabad High Court stayed Amar Singh’s arrest till May 16.

General secretary Amar, along with party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and six other leaders, was named in a criminal case registered in Lucknow for distributing controversial videotapes and compact discs of Mayavati’s speech at a Bahujan Samaj Party workers’ meet.

Admitting Amar’s petition which branded the case “politically motivated”, the court issued notices to chief minister Mayavati, principal secretary (home) Pradeep Kumar and state BSP chief K.K. Sachan and scheduled the next hearing for May 16.

Samajwadi leaders welcomed the verdict as “a moral victory” and hoped it would stall Mayavati’s plans to arrest Mulayam and senior party leaders.

The state, however, considers the court order applicable to the petitioner (Amar) only as it continued registering cases against Mulayam and his supporters for alleged misuse of the chief minister’s discretionary fund when he was in power.

“Amar Singh’s petition related to only one case registered at Lucknow’s Hazratganj police station on the morning of Mayavati’s pardafaash rally last Monday. The court order does not cover the 135 cases registered against Mulayam and co. the same day,” a government spokesman said.

Unhampered by the spiralling protests by Samajwadi workers across the state, the government today arrested 12 more beneficiaries of the chief minister’s fund. New cases against Mulayam and others were registered in Siddharthnagar, Azamgarh, Unnao and Basti districts.

A government official said the court order would not prevent Mulayam’s arrest. He has been accused of criminal conspiracy and misappropriation of government funds in the 160 cases registered so far.

Law enforcement agencies, however, appeared to be waiting for Mayavati’s nod to arrest the former chief minister. They, however, continued booking the lower-rung Samajwadi leaders.

Sources close to Mayavati said she was not anxious to order Mulayam’s arrest immediately. “She doesn’t want to turn (Mulayam) Yadav into a martyr. But he is bound to be arrested when investigators feel they have sufficient evidence against him.”

Officials in the chief minister’s secretariat hinted that outfits associated with Mulayam and his “friends” in the press are next on Mayavati’s hitlist.

The Mulayam-sponsored Lohia Trust, occupying a government bungalow on 5, Vikramaditya Marg since 1990, has already been declared an “illegal occupant”.

Another outfit, the Samajwadi Yuvajan Sabha, has been asked to vacate its office on 6A, Raj Bhavan colony, as it has been allotted to a BSP minister.

“More inquiries about misuse of CMDF (chief minister’s fund) have been completed and the names of some journalists and their organisations figure in the second list,” a state official said. Police have already lodged an FIR against Jai Prakash Yadav, editor of Hindi weekly Kranti Chetna, who was given Rs 10 lakh from the fund to set up a press in Lucknow.

Another senior journalist and a father-son duo figure in the second list of fund beneficiaries. Each had received Rs 10 lakh.

“He had doled out huge sums to journalists, their relatives and certain institutions run by them. We are investigating whether these were used for the purposes for which the grants were made,” the state official said.

According to the official, the state has also come across cases of misuse of the fund money given to press clubs by unscrupulous elements.

In one instance, he said, the money granted to buy land for a district press club was diverted to buy land for a fund beneficiary.

Samajwadi leaders accused Mayavati of trying to browbeat the press. “(Mulayam) Yadav had only strengthened the fourth estate without encroaching on its autonomy and never tried to buy it over. Mayavati wanted to muzzle the free press,” said party state general secretary Shiv Pal Singh Yadav.

Mulayam had given grants to the press clubs of Lucknow, Kanpur, Allahabad, Faizabad, Dehradun and Mainpuri as also Jaipur and Calcutta. “These were grants to established institutions, not individuals,” Shiv Pal said.

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