Central probe agency Enforcement Directorate raided multiple locations of former Uttar Pradesh minister and Samajwadi Party leader Gayatri Prajapati in connection with a money laundering case probe against him on December 30 (Wednesday). Prajapati had held the mining portfolio during the Samajwadi Party government under Akhilesh Yadav.
The Enforcement Directorate is probing Gayatri Prajapati on charges of possessing alleged disproportionate assets and in connection with two FIRs filed by the CBI against the minister and others last year in connection with the illegal sand mining case.
Seven locations in Lucknow, Kanpur and Amethi, including the premises of a chartered accountant of Prajapati based in Kanpur, the residence of his driver, “Benami holders” in Amethi and Gayatri Prajapati’s house and office in state capital Lucknow were searched simultaneously by over 50 central probe agency officials under sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
ED seized documents of more than 100 Benami properties during raids at the premises of Samajwadi leader
During the raid, the ED has reportedly seized old currency notes worth Rs 11 lakhs. Apart from this, ED has recovered blank stamp papers worth Rs 5 lakh, cash amounting to Rs 1.5 lakh and documents of more than 100 Benami properties.
The documents that the ED has recovered during the raids show that Gayatri Prajapati owns assets in more than six cities including Lucknow, Kanpur, Mumbai, Sitapur. According to a report by News 18, ED has recovered more than 44 property/land-related documents in the name of Gayatri Prajapati and his family members and found evidence that black money collected from the mining scam has been invested in these Benami properties. These assets were taken in the name of close relatives, personal assistants and drivers, revealed ED.
Gayatri Prajapati purchased assets worth 200 crores in the name of his driver
The agency has gathered proof which suggests that the Samajwadi Party minister had purchased assets worth 200 crores in the name of his driver. Moreover, the agency seized dozens of files from Gayatri Prajapati’s residence in Amethi’s housing development colony and his driver Ramraj’s residence in Tikri. Apart from this, the minister’s IT returns and bank accounts were also being scrutinised.
The ED team has demolished the house of Gayatri’s relative Harilal Prajapati and servant Ramtahal Verma. According to reports, the team also questioned the Samajwadi Party leader’s servant about the former’s illegal assets and sources from where he acquired the black money.
The Samajwadi Party leader accused of rape and molestation
For the unversed, Gayatri Prajapati was arrested and sent to jail on March 15, 2017. He was charged with rape, criminal conspiracy, and criminal intimidation. The former minister, along with others, is accused of raping a woman and attempting to molest her minor daughter. He is currently undergoing treatment for various ailments at the KGMU in Lucknow.
It might be recalled that in January 2017, a woman from Chitrakoot had alleged that Prajapati, then a Minister in SP chief Akhilesh Yadav’s cabinet, along with his men, raped her and molested her minor daughter. Prajapati reportedly took photos and continued to rape her for two years by threatening to leak the photos. He also falsely promised to give her an important position in Samajwadi Party and a mining contract. The victim later filed a complaint. However, the UP Police refused to file an FIR. The woman then approached the Supreme Court, which directed the police to lodge a report. In February 2017 he absconded but was later arrested in Lucknow.
22 locations of former UP Minister searched over the sand mining scam occurred during Akhilesh Yadav’s rule
In June 2019, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had carried out searches at 22 locations in Uttar Pradesh and the national capital, including three residential premises of former UP Minister Gayatri Prajapati, in connection with the illegal sand mining scam, that occurred in 2012–2017 during the Samajwadi Party rule.
He and four IAS officers of the state were booked by the CBI, on the basis of which the ED filed its money laundering case.
Akhilesh Yadav had been the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh from 2012 to 2017 and Prajapati Gayatri held the mining portfolio in the cabinet from 2012 to 2013. According to reports, the illegal sand mining scam took place between 2012 and 2016. For this reason, the central agencies have also been keeping a close eye on former UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in the matter.
The agencies are of the opinion that both Akhilesh Yadav and Gayatri Prasad Prajapati jointly approved of all the mining contracts when they were at the helm of affairs in Uttar Pradesh. As per rules, any deal which is above Rs 5 lakhs need to be approved by the CM, so the agencies are certain that all the illegal deals were done with the approval of the then CM Akhilesh Yadav.