The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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When guns are down, churn out poetry

Lucknow, Dec. 12: Paintings by rapists and murderers at Tihar jail may serve as therapy, but it is the pen to which Uttar Pradesh's underworld dons-turned-politicians have turned to express their feelings.

Dharam Pal Yadav and Om Prakash Srivastava, alias Babloo Srivastava ' whose names spell terror among the public ' are among those who have turned to writing.

Yadav, who reportedly controls two-thirds of the licensed liquor shops in Uttar Pradesh and has had stints in the Janata Dal, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and the BJP, recently penned a set of poems, Salakhon ke Peeche (Behind Bars) as well as a collection of autobiographical writings containing his reflections on jail life.

'The two books record the cry of my soul. I have given vent to my feelings after a lot of introspection on the controversies that swirled (around) me,' Yadav said after releasing the books recently.

Yadav faces 30 criminal cases, including murder, attempt to murder, kidnap and extortion. His son Vikas is no stranger to criminal cases either ' he is said to be involved in the high-profile murders of model Jessica Lal and Nitish Katara, son of an IAS officer.

The dreaded western Uttar Pradesh don joined the BJP last February but the party cancelled his membership four days later fearing a political fallout. The controversial Yadav, who was a Rajya Sabha MP at the time, holds no political post now.

Babloo, a one-time associate of Dawood Ibrahim, has also penned a book on his experience in jail. The don-turned-politician, who faces charges in at least 12 cases and has 42 cases pending against him, has written on abduction, one of the offences that he is accused of.

Babloo, who is linked with Dubai-based don Chhota Rajan, is lodged in Bareilly jail but was on parole recently to attend his sister's marriage in Lucknow, where he also underwent a medical check-up.

The don-turned-writer ran his national crime network which ranged from cricket-based satta to abductions from Allahabad's Naini jail.

He contested the 2002 Assembly elections and May's Lok Sabha polls from Sitapur, but lost both. Nevertheless, he hopes to stage a political comeback soon for he remains a member of the Apna Dal.

Tracked down by journalists, Babloo said he had finished writing a book on India's 'abduction industry'. 'The book will have a wealth of information on abductions, the way it is accomplished by the gangsters, how much do they gain and what kind of hardship its victims are subjected to,' he said.

The wannabe-MP said the book, which he thinks will be an authentic guide for police and those who fear they may be abducted, will be released early next month by the inspector-general of police (prisons).

'It took me three months to complete the book. I was inspired to write the book by some officers of the CBI. I have taken care to meticulously suggest in the book what a person fearing he will be abducted should do to prevent this and what he should do when he is already abducted and in captivity,' he said. Babloo added that there are steps on how to trace the abduction gang.

A survey by a central intelligence agency says at least 120 people are abducted each month in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, the states worst hit by the menace. The figure is based on the incidents actually reported ' many abductions go unrecorded.

Babloo's book, which has gone to press now, is thought to provide an insight into the modus operandi of mafia dons whom the gangster has worked with. 'We are waiting for the book to come out but we are not sure if the book will tell the truth or is meant to mislead people,' an officer said.

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