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Smiling lifer, sulking commuters
- Jailed gangster’s pictures on Ajsu welcome gates squeeze Mango artery

Dreaded gangster Akhilesh Singh is out on the street. Er, well, his smiling pictures are, giving photogenic company to deputy chief minister Sudesh Mahto on road-hog Ajsu gates.

The welcome structures have been put up by Ajsu for a party meeting on Agrico Ground on December 23 to be addressed by Mahto.

At least four such entrance gates with bamboo scaffolding have been put up on the 2.5km stretch of New Purulia Road connecting NH-33 with the city. The 15-feet-wide road, which passes through densely populated areas like Tamolia, Pardih Chowk, Azadnagar, Jawaharnagar, Daiguttu, Gandhi Maidan, Payal Talkies and Mango market, has been squeezed to 12ft because of the gates.

More than 1.5 lakh vehicles cross the stretch every day, with many long-distance buses from Ranchi also opting for the route to enter the city.

Now, for commuters, it is a tough call. Will you get irritated with the snarl thanks to encroaching gates? Or will you get shocked seeing a grinning lifer and a smiling Sudesh Mahto in photographs?

Akhilesh, who got a lifetime imprisonment in 2006 in connection with the murder of Sakchi jailer U.S. Pandey, was arrested in December 2011 from Noida where he spent three years as a fugitive. Within a year, he probably got bored inside Ghaghidih Central Jail. Akhilesh joined Ajsu last week.

Now, Ajsu gates on New Purulia Road in Mango boast large pictures of Akhilesh, looking every inch a dynamic young neta in white, teeth included. In some, his pictures are larger than Mahto’s.

Mohammed Sohail, a 23-year-old student of Jamshedpur Workers’ College and Mango resident who came to watch Dabangg 2 at Payal Talkies, said he nearly missed hitting a gate.

“Around 11am, I was going to book a ticket for the afternoon show. Suddenly, a three-wheeler from the opposite direction brushed against my two-wheeler. I nearly collided with the bamboo structure,” he said.

He, however, kept mum about Akhilesh.

Ajsu district spokesperson Babar Khan said the gates were erected to welcome party leaders, but claimed he did not know who had put up pictures of the jailed gangster.

“We have taken permission from Dhalbhum subdivisional officer (SDO) to erect the structures. But I am not aware of the gangster’s pictures. It is possible that party enthusiasts have put them as he joined Ajsu recently. We will dismantle the gates after the December 23 event,” added Khan.

Dhalbhum SDO Subodh Kumar said no permission had been taken to erect gates anywhere in the city. But, he softened the blow. “It is impossible to check the erection of such gates as almost all parties resort to them for functions. There is no law as such against them,” Kumar said. He, however, remained silent on rules and regulations to ensure smooth flow of traffic.

East Singhbhum deputy commissioner Himani Pande said she would look into the matter of gates causing traffic congestion. Moral congestion, anyone?

Should road-hog gates invite penalty? Tell ttkhand@abpmail.com