Rape-accused UP minister's accomplices brought to Lucknow

Lucknow: The Pradesh Police's Special Task Force on Tuesday handed over two accomplices of the state's "fugitive" minister, Gayatri Prajapati, who is the prime accused in a rape case, to the Gautampalli police station, where the initial FIR was lodged.The Special Task Force (STF) on Monday arrested two of the associates of Prajapati -- Ashok Kumar Tiwari and Aashish Kumar Shukla -- from Zebra Toll Plaza in Noida. Tiwari and Shukla are also accused in the rape case.Additional Directore General (Law and Order) Daljeet Chowdhary said that three persons named in the FIR have been arrested and efforts are underway to arrest the remaining four, including the minister.Passports of all the accused have been cancelled and lookout notices issued.Meanwhile, the Uttar Pradesh's Transport Minister, who is now a declared "fugitive", continues to embarrass the Akhilesh Yadav government as opposition parties and social workers accuse the Chief Minister of sheltering him.Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state unit chief Keshav Prasad Maurya alleged that Prajapati, at large despite a non-bailable warrant against him, had become the first of its kind case in democratic India.A rape-accused minister continued to be member of the Cabinet and had not been arrested so many days after the FIR was lodged on the directive of the Supreme Court (SC), he pointed out."It shows the lack of will of the Chief Minister and the state government to bring the accused minister to book," Maurya said.Social activist Nutan Thakur also wrote to Governor Ram Naik, asking him to suo motu sack the minister. She said that a minister could be removed from his office under the provisions of Article 164 of the Constitution, as he had lost the pleasure of the Governor.By writing a terse letter to the Chief Minister on how a rape-accused minister was still continuing in the state Cabinet, the Governor has already made his displeasure known.The Governor should not wait for the Chief Minister's report, but treating this as an "extraordinary situation" dismiss Prajapati on his own, using his power under the Article 164, Thakur said.Gayatri Prajapati is a senior Samajwadi Party leader close to both Mulayam Singh Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav and is the party candidate from Amethi.As Akhilesh went twice to campaign for him, opposition leaders have been targeting the Chief Minister, and even Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his campaigning took potshots at the state government on the issue.IANS