With polling just away, Atiq Ahmed gets bail

Allahabad: In a respite to mafia don-turned-politician Atiq Ahmed ahead of Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, the Allahabad High Court today granted bail to the former MP who has been in jail in connection with a case registered against him under the stringent Gangsters` Act.

Justice D P Singh passed the order while making it clear that Ahmed will have to appear before the trial court whenever summons were issued. Ahmed, who is seeking revival of his sagging political career by contesting the assembly elections from Allahabad (West) seat, has been behind bars ever since he was arrested from Delhi in January, 2008.

At present he is lodged in a jail in Basti district. A former Samajwadi Party MP from Phulpur, Ahmed is an accused in a number of criminal cases most notable being the murder of BSP MLA Raju Pal in 2005. He had secured bail in the murder case barely a few months after being named an accused.

However, a number of fresh cases were lodged against Ahmed and his close associates in 2007 after the Mayawati-led BSP came to power in the state. Ahmed had been granted bail in all cases, which included threatening witnesses in the Pal murder case and those related to land-grabbing, except the one slapped against him under the Gangsters` Act.

The High Court order paves the way for release of Ahmed, who has fallen out with the Samajwadi Party and is now contesting as a candidate of Apna Dal, barely a fortnight ahead of his constituency going to polls on February 15. Ahmed had represented the assembly seat five times on the trot before being elected to the Lok Sabha in the 2004 general elections.