The gangsters may be dead but their legacy lives on. In the recent Panchayat polls, relatives of gangsters — jailed or slain — have won the people’s mandate, mainly because of the influence their son wielded.
In Unnao, Shakun Singh, wife of late MLC Ajit Singh, has won the Zila Panchayat elections.
Ajit Singh, a mafia don turned politician, was shot dead at his own birthday party in a resort in Unnao in September 2004.
Kshama Devi, 68, has won as the village Pradhan for the second time in Prahladpur Khatta village in Baghpat district.
She is the mother of Rahul Khatta who had 32 cases of murder against him and was killed by cops in an encounter in August 2015.
The district administration had invoked the UP Gangsters and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act,1986 against family members of Rahul Khatta, but Kshama Devi is not bothered.
“My son was a victim of police brutality. A shy boy who barely interacted with villagers, Rahul resisted a former pradhan’s attempt to grab a piece of land belonging to a poor widow. He was taken away by cops and tortured for days. When he came back, he was a different man. The entire village knows the story. No one sees him as a criminal here, but a victim of the system,” Kshama Devi told reporters.
The feisty old woman is unfazed about the case against her family. “We know how to fight it out,” she said.
In another case, Subhashna Rathi, 60, has been elected as village pradhan for the second time now in Gangnauli village.
She is the mother of Pramod Gangnauli who carried a reward of Rs 1 lakh on his head and was killed in a police encounter in January 2015.
Pramod’s elder brother, Praveen Rathi, was injured in a police encounter and was sent to jail.
If local villagers are to be believed, Pramod was a crime reporter from whom police sought help to meet a few criminals. The meeting was fixed, but police killed two of them in an encounter and the entire blame fell on Pramod who had to take up arms to defend himself as cops refused to bail him out.
“People have elected me for the second time which proves that they believe in us. Everyone knows that my son was not a criminal,” she said.
Another interesting case is that of Geeta Devi who has been elected head of Khera village. She is the mother of dreaded gangster Ankit Baba who is currently lodged in Tihar Jail.
Sources say that she enjoys the support of local leaders who have helped her win the seat.
A senior police officer, once posted as police chief in Meerut, said: “This is not a new phenomenon. Winning elections becomes easier for the families of gangster because most gangsters have a Robinhood image. They kill for money but never target the poor. In fact, most of them have kangaroo court where justice is doled out to the poor. This makes them popular among people and they manage to get their kin elected.”