Organised crime had been a flourishing industry in Uttar Pradesh since the eighties when Gorakhpur — the home of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath — was known as the crime capital of the state.
In the past two years since Adityanath became the Chief Minister, organised crime has lost steam and the gangs have been disorganised. The senior most mafia don in the state, Hari Shankar Tiwari, now an octogenarian, has slipped into retirement and his legendary adversary Virendra Pratap Shahi is no more.
The guns in Gorakhpur have fallen silent. Other major leaders of mafia gangs like Mukhtar Ansari, Brijesh Singh and Ateeq Ahmad are in jail while others like Abhay Singh and Dhananjay Singh have withdrawn into their shells.
Mukhtar Ansari, one of the most powerful mafia dons, is a five-time legislator and has been lodged in jail since 2005 for the murder of BJP MLA Krishnanand Rai. He has recently been acquitted in the case but remains in jail for other cases. Mukhtar Ansari’s clout in eastern Uttar Pradesh can be gauged by the fact that he won the 2007, 2012 and 2017 Assembly elections from inside the jail.
In the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) regimes, Mukhtar Ansari enjoyed the privilege of attending Assembly sessions and meeting officials and supporters across the state capital. He even ran his mobile office from the central hall of the Vidhan Bhawan and people thronged to meet him in person.
Adityanath made sure that the state government opposed Mukhtar Ansari’s plea to attend Assembly sessions in court and the mafia don no longer gets permission to participate in legislative proceedings.
Mukhtar Ansari’s gang has also started disintegrating. His closest aide, Munna Bajrangi, was shot dead inside Baghpat jail in July last year and his sharp shooter Atul Rai, who was recently elected to the Lok Sabha on a BSP ticket, is also in jail on rape charges. Mukhtar Ansari’s rival Brijesh Singh had probably hoped for better times in the Yogi regime but he has also been barred from attending legislative sessions.
Brijesh Singh was arrested from Odisha in 2008 after having being on the run for almost a decade. He reportedly had 100 cases against him at the time of his arrest and he is now a member of the state legislative council. His proximity to some top BJP leaders has been spoken of in political circles. His nephew Sushil Singh is a BJP MLA.
However, Adityanath has made sure that Brijesh Singh, now in Varanasi jail, loses his clout, especially in government tenders. The Yogi Adityanath government has also ‘demolished’ the empire of mafia don Ateeq Ahmad. Ateeq Ahmad is presently in Sabarmati jail in Ahmedabad while his associates have recently been raided by the CBI and his financial transactions and benami properties are under the scanner. His financial backbone has already been broken to an extent and his associates say that it will be difficult for him to regain his kingdom.
Two other mafia gangs led by Abhay Singh and Dhananjay Singh have also been rendered ineffective by the Yogi Adityanath government.
Both the leaders did not contest the recent Lok Sabha elections and have stayed away from controversies. These new generation gangs have apparently understood the mood of the government and are taking care to stay away from Adityanath’s scanner. (IANS)