Abdul Alim Jafri
After Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) fielded Malegaon bomb blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur from Bhopal, two more accused in Malegaon case are contesting Lok Sabha elections from eastern Uttar Pradesh. Major Ramesh Upadhyay from Ballia seat and Sudhakar Chaturvedi from Mirzapur filed their nomination papers on Friday, April 26.
Upadhyay, a key accused in the Malegaon blast case, is contesting on the symbol of the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, while Sudhakar Chaturvedi, who was also questioned in connection with the case, announced his candidature on Friday from Mirzapur Lok Sabha constituency as an independent.
All the three accused have been charged under various sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for terrorism in relation to the Malegaon blast which happened in September 2008 and are currently out on bail.
Ramesh Upadhyay will take on Virendra Singh Mast who is contesting from BJP in Ballia, while Sudhakar Chaturvedi will be challenging Union Minister and Apna Dal leader Anupriya Patel in Mirzapur.
Ironically, soon after filing his nomination papers from Ballia, Upadhyay showed his colours by saying that he is in agreement with Sadhvi Pragya’s controversial statement on ATS chief late Hemant Karkare.
He was quoted by a Hindi daily, “If any police official dies anywhere he cannot be declared martyred. Only a freedom fighter and soldier could be martyred. Karkare was killed by a terrorist and that is the biggest example of his failure.”
Responding to Upadhyay’s nomination, Balwant Yadav, a farmer leader based in Ballia told NewsClick, “He is not any common worker but a terrorist. Such a terrorist wants to control the political system now. They do not have any election agenda before the people, but will only speak the language of a terrorist. They (him and Pragya Singh) are the key accused in the Malegaon bomb blast and are claiming that they will remove terrorism from the country. After committing so many crimes, look at their audacity that they are still contesting elections.”
He added, “I fail to understand from where do they get the courage to contest elections while the opposition remains silent. Such accused are contesting only to target a specific community. At a time when the country is witnessing a high rate of unemployment and farmers’ suicides, such terrorists contesting election is a shame for our district. Pehle inhone bahar bomb foda ab Ballia me fodenge (Earlier, he blasted a bomb outside, now he will do the same in Ballia).”
Another resident of Ballia, Madhusudan Srivastava told NewsClick, “This candidate is not at all popular in Ballia and soon villagers are going to boycott him.”
He further said, “Here the fight is between BJP’s Virendra Singh Mast and Neeraj Shekhar of the Mahagathbandhan. Both come from the Rajput community. Even if Upadhyay manages to secure two thousand votes that would be more. Though Shekhar’s name has not been declared officially by the Samajwadi Party (SP) but his name is in the top race.”
“It is a shame for us that an accused is contesting from the land of Mangal Pandey and former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar. Ballia is a backward district and in five years of Modi’s government, this district has not seen any development including education and health sector but nobody will speak on such issues. The people of Ballia are not fools to vote for any terrorist. We have been lucky enough that our region never witnessed any communal riots and we will not let it happen in the near future, no matter any blast accused contests.”
Abdul Alim Jafri