Probe gunrunning charge against Ajay Rai, says BJP

BJP leader Amit Shah addresses a press conference in Lucknow on Saturday.  

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s point man in Uttar Pradesh, Amit Shah, on Saturday demanded a probe into allegations linking the Congress candidate in Varanasi Ajay Rai with illegal arms trade.

In his first public appearance after the Election Commission lifted the ban on him from campaigning in U.P., Mr. Shah quoted a television channel report that alleged that Mr. Rai, an MLA, was involved in trading AK-47 rifles.

Mr. Shah said that the Congress must clarify on the allegations against its candidate in Varanasi. “Why is the Congress silent on the issue for the past three days? Neither Sonia Gandhi nor Rahul Gandhi has spoken on the issue. Doesn’t the party have any worker with a good image who can take on Modiji?”

In an exclusive story, news channel India TV on April 17 quoted a “confidential” Bihar police report alleging that Mr. Rai bought AK-47 rifles from underworld don Mohammed Shahbuddin in Bihar. This was revealed in an 82-page report sent in 2003 by the then Director-General of Bihar Police D. P. Ojha to the then U.P. Home Secretary, the channel reported.

The confidential report mentions Mr. Rai, who was then a BJP MLA, as a criminal associate of Shahbuddin, who is now in jail.

According to the channel, Mr. Ojha wrote in his report that “around 1996, when Shahbuddin's craving for modern weapons increased, he acquired a large number of AK-47 rifles from Kashmir. He kept 8-10 rifles with him, and sold the remaining AK-47 rifles to Kolasla [now Pindra] MLA Ajay Rai and a criminal from Ranchi Anil Sharma.”

Mr. Ojha had purpotedly mentioned the names of 24 alleged criminals in his report, Mr. Rai featuring last on the list that included underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and jailed MLA Mukhtar Ansari, who recently opted out of the contest in Varanasi.

‘Issue subjudice’

The Congress dismissed the news story and questioned the timing of the report. “The matter is old, of 2003-04, and is subjudice. Ajay Rai's name is only in the supplementary charge sheet. He is not directly accused,” Congress spokesperson Surendra Rajput said.

Mr. Rajput added that during the time Mr. Rai was a BJP MLA and the NDA government was ruling the Centre. “Why did the BJP keep him if he was accused of such serious charges?”

Questioning the credibility of the television channel, he said its “affinity to the BJP is not hidden.” India TV's editorial director Qamar Waheed Naqvi resigned recently over an allegedly “fixed” interview of the BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Aap ki Adalat.

Mr. Rajput also demanded action against the Bihar police official for concealing the report for so long and sought an enquiry into how the channel accessed the confidential report.

Abhishek Upadhyay, the India TV reporter who filed the story, dismissed the Congress allegations and said the confidential report was “sourced from the Bihar Home department” and not through an RTI.

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Printable version | Oct 18, 2021 5:17:38 PM |

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