The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ex-minister in jail for poet murder

Dehra Dun/Delhi, Oct. 24: Former Uttar Pradesh minister Amarmani Tripathi was today jailed for life for killing a young poet who was carrying his unborn child and had refused to abort it despite repeated threats.

Judge V.B. Rai took only five minutes to convict the legislator and hand down similar punishments to his wife Madhumani, cousin Rohit Chaturvedi and contract killer Santosh Rai for the May 2003 murder of Madhumita Shukla at the victim’s Lucknow home.

The verdict capped a long battle for justice waged by the poet’s family, especially her sister Nidhi who was a witness to the travails of Madhumita’s love life with Amarmani, known for his strong-arm tactics in the volatile heartland.

Amarmani, who was taken back to the Dehra Dun jail where he has been lodged, refused to comment on the verdict but the legislator’s lawyer Vijay Vikram said they would “appeal in the high court”.

“There was no direct proof that the MLA was the murderer,” added a relative of the former BSP minister, who later switched loyalties to the Samajwadi Party.

In Delhi, Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh said the Dehra Dun court’s verdict was not the “ultimate” decision. “There are many courts left for clarifications… and he (Amarmani) should be given that opportunity,” he said.

The case, initially probed by the state crime branch, had been transferred to the CBI in June 2003 following a huge outcry. Amarmani was arrested on September 21, and in March next year, his wife, a key conspirator in the murder, surrendered before a special CBI court in Lucknow after evading arrest for several months.

In Dehra Dun, where the case had been transferred on the Supreme Court’s orders, the judge ordered a year’s additional imprisonment for Amarmani for forcing a person to claim that he was married to the poetess in the aftermath of the murder.

The judge also slapped a fine of Rs 50,000 each on the convicts but acquitted a fifth accused, Rakesh Pandey, for lack of evidence.

CBI lawyers Baljit Singh and Raj Mohan Chand said they were satisfied with the verdict but would decide whether to appeal against Pandey’s acquittal. “Though we had demanded the highest penalty for all the accused, we are satisfied with the judgment,” Chand said.

The judgment did not satisfy the victim’s relatives who wanted death for the accused.

“This is not a relief for us. When he (Amarmani) was in jail earlier, he used to threaten us and harass us. He tried to pay us earlier. He will continue to do the same,” Madhumita’s mother Shanti Devi said.

“Why shouldn’t Amarmani be hanged' I feel justice is incomplete,” said Nidhi, whose insistence had led to the transfer of the case from Lucknow.

Nidhi, who had said it was her life’s “mission” to get justice in the case, was not present at the Dehra Dun court today. She said she left Delhi for Dehra Dun but turned back from Rudrapur, 290km away, “sensing” that Amarmani’s goons “would be out there”.

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