With Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath promising a crackdown against mafia, the Uttar Pradesh Police last month released a list containing the names of heads of 66 criminal gangs, and top officials say multiple teams are on the ground looking for the absconding accused and also keeping an eye on those on bail.
Three of the listed mafia are now dead -- Anil Dujana and Aditya Rana alias Ravi killed in police encounters, and Atiq Ahmad killed in Prayagraj by assailants posing as journalists. Atiq Ahmad's brother Ashraf, whose name did not figure in the list, was also gunned down with him.
Among the rest 63 named in the list, five are absconding, 20 are out on bail, and 38 are lodged in different jails.
Senior police officials said the government is monitoring them. "Our teams are on the lookout for the criminals and if they fire at the police instead of surrendering, they will definitely face retaliation," a police officer said.
Special Director General of Police (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar told PTI, "The police are keeping an eye on everyone. Nobody will be allowed to play with law and order in the state." He said multiple teams have been formed to to arrest the mafia who are absconding. "The police are keeping a close watch on the activities of the mafia, who are on bail. The police carry out their verification from time to time." The mafia list was released weeks after Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath vowed decisive action against such elements in the state. "Mafiaaon ko mitti me mila denge (will reduce the mafia to dust," he had thundered in the state assembly during a heated debate with Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav over the issue of Atiq Ahmad, who was then lodged in a jail in Gujarat.
On May 4, gangster Anil Dujana, whose name generated fear in the districts of National Capital Region for two decades, was killed in Merrut in an encounter with the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force.
"Anil Dujana, a wanted criminal, was surrounded by our team in a village in Meerut on Thursday afternoon. Dujana fired at our team to escape and was killed in retaliatory firing," Additional Director General of UP STF Amitabh Yash had said.
Anil, who carried his village name as his last name, had over 60 cases lodged against him, including of murder and extortion.
He was killed just two weeks after mafia-turned-politician Atiq Ahmad and his brother Ashraf were shot dead from point-blank range by threes people as the two brothers alighted a police van and walked towards a hospital, handcuffed and being escorted by policemen, in Prayagraj around 10 pm.
On April 12, the Special Task Force gunned down Aditya Rana alias Ravi, who had fled from police custody.
Under Additional Director General of Police (ADG) STF Amitabh Yash said police, as part of a special campaign, are looking for criminals declared absconding.
During their campaign for the urban local body polls, Chief Minister Adityanath and state ministers are attacking Opposition parties alleging they sheltered such criminals.
"BJP ki ek hi yukti, pradesh ko dilai mafia se mukti (The BJP has only one solution which: rid the sate of mafia). The mafia are begging for mercy to lead regular lives and earn livelihoods by honest means due to the government' zero tolerance against crime," Adityanath had told a poll rally in in Rae Bareli.
Earlier criminals in Uttar Pradesh would walk around their heads held high, but now they carry placards around their necks begging for their lives, he said.
He also took a dig at the previous regimes, saying people associated with a particular party would brandish country-made pistols, but they are not seen these days, and youths now are working on smartphones and tablets.
One of the listed mafia is Baddan Singh Baddo, who has been absconding for the past four years.
He had managed to flee when the police party escorting him back to Farrukhabad jail after a court appearance in Ghaziabad halted at an eatery in Meerut. All the police personnel allegedly got drunk and he took advantage of the situation. The police are yet to arrest Baddo who has cases of murder, loot and ransom registered against him.
Last week, absconding mafia Manoj Aase was arrested in Gautam Budh Nagar after an encounter. He was also injured in the exchange of fire.
Haji Iqbal alias Bala, a former BSP MLC and mining mafia of Saharanpur, is also absconding and the police have declared a cash reward of Rs 1 lakh on him arrest. His brother and sons are in jail.
Others in the list who are out of the police net yet are: Jugnu Walia alias Harvinder Singh (of Lucknow), who is associated with the Mukhtar Ansari's gang, Meerut-based Vinay Tyagi and Javed alias Pappu of Prayagraj.
Ajay Pratap Singh alias Ajay Sipahi of Ambedkarnagar, Sushil Mooch of Muzaffarnagar, Anoop Singh and Pradeep Singh of Pratapgarh, Sudhir Singh, Rakesh Yadav and Vinod Upadhyay of Gorakhpur, Saud Akhtar of Kanpur, Bachu Yadav of Lucknow, Rajesh Yadav, Kamrul Hasan and Jabir Hussain of Prayagraj are out on bail.
Former MLCs Brijesh Singh (of Varanasi) and Sanjeev Dwivedi alias Ramu Dwivedi (of Deoria) are also on bail.
Those who are lodged in jail are former MLA Mukhtar Ansari, former MP Rizwan Zaheer, Tribhuvan Singh, Amit Kasana, Sundar Bhati and Subhash Thakur.
Officials said the mafia used to operate their network from inside jails, but their confidence has been shaken after the state government crackdown on the nexus between mafia and jail officials.
Action has been initiated against jail officials, staff and criminals in several cases including the illegal meeting between Mukhtar Ansari's son Abbas and his wife in Chitrakoot jail, where Abbas was lodged, and Ashraf's meeting with people in Bareilly jail.
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