Union minister booked for murder (Second Lead)

February 11th, 2009 - 7:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Lucknow/New Delhi, Feb 11 (IANS) Mahavir Prasad, a minister in the central government and a Congress leader, was on a court’s order Wednesday charged with conspiring to murder a villager in Uttar Pradesh, and his party hastened to say the law would take its own course.
Prasad, the minister for micro, small and medium industries, was Tuesday night charged in the January 2008 murder of a villager in Gorakhpur district’s Gagha area, about 270 km from state capital Lucknow. The case relates to a land dispute.

The 70-year-old minister, who is an MP from Bansgaon in Gorakhpur, was charged along with two others - Gauri Shanker and Rajesh Singh - following a direction from the Allahabad High Court.

In New Delhi, the Congress treaded cautiously. “The law will take its own course. The case has been registered on the instructions of the high court and it would be inappropriate to comment on the court’s order,” Shakeel Ahmad, party spokesperson and minister of state for home affairs, told IANS.

“Prasadji has been made a co-accused in a case that was registered as an accident in the beginning. I hope that Prasadji, a politician of long standing and clean image, would come clean out of it.”

Gorakhpur Deputy Inspector General Aditya Nath Mishra told IANS by telephone that a woman called Shubhawati had accused Prasad and the two others of killing her husband, Ram Pragat, over a land dispute.

“Shubhawati of Ujjarpar village had registered a case in the Gagha police station against Prasad and two others, including village head Rajesh Singh, for killing her husband in January 2008,” Mishra told IANS on telephone.

The murder took place over a land dispute. The body of Shubhawati’s husband, Ram Pragat, was recovered from the fields in the village Jan 28, 2008, the police said.

Shubhawati alleged that the three ran over her husband in a jeep, but an accident case was filed, that too only against Singh and Shanker. Following this, Shubhawati moved a local court in Gorakhpur to get a murder case registered against the three, including the minister, the police added.

However, the local court rejected her plea, after which she moved the Allahabad High Court, which directed that Prasad be named as a co-accused in the murder case.

“Following high court directions, the minister has been booked under section 120 B of the Indian Penal Code (criminal conspiracy) while the other two have been booked under sections 302 (murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence or giving false information), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of public peace), and 506 (criminal intimidation),” police inspector Virendra Yadav told IANS ontelephone.

Prasad was elected to the Lok Sabha from Bansgaon in Gorakhpur in 2004, while he also won in 1980, 1984 and 1989. He was union deputy minister of railways from February 1988 to July 1989 and subsequently minister of state for mines and steel till December that year. Besides, he also served as the governor of Haryana from 1995 to 2000 with additional charge of the gubernatorial office of Himachal Pradesh.

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