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The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Scrunch time for poster boy

His posters as crumpled as his reputation, Akhilesh Singh stopped hogging city streets and landmarks, as police pulled down the last of Ajsu’s publicity material, featuring the smiling gangster, on Tuesday.

However, in little respite for commuters, four welcome gates of the party — squeezing an entire artery in Mango — managed to escape this sudden sting of morality, which conveniently came after the December 23 meeting of the party at Agrico grounds.

Posters, banners and hoardings of the gangster were removed from the entire 2.5km stretch of New Purulia Road, which connects the city to NH-33 and passes through Sakchi, Mango, Golmuri and Sidhgora among others.

Sub-inspector of Sakchi police station Ram Charitra Pal — who is also officiating as the OC — said they had received verbal instructions from SSP Akhilesh Kumar Jha in this regard. “All OCs have been asked to remove posters of Akhilesh Singh,” he said.

Incidentally, on December 22, The Telegraph had highlighted the plight of city commuters with the Ajsu gates encroaching upon road space, using a criminal to up the publicity quotient.

But Tuesday’s drive strangely focussed little on the real problem.

A senior police officer, requesting anonymity, said they were only following orders. “We have been categorically told to remove only pictures of Akhilesh Singh,” he said.

The gangster, who was awarded life imprisonment in 2006 in connection with the murder of Sakchi jailer U.S. Pandey, was arrested in December 2011 from Noida, where he had spent three years as a fugitive.

Within a year, he probably got bored inside Ghaghidih Central Jail and joined Ajsu more than a week ago.

Sources in the administration claimed that the party had been directed to dismantle all gates in three days.

Senior Ajsu functionary Babar Khan refused to comment on the police crackdown on Akhilesh posters.

“We had erected the gates after taking necessary permission from the administration. We have started dismantling them at a few places because we understand that commuters are suffering,” he said.