Meerut: The BJP Saturday sacked its Meerut mahanagar vice-president Sanjeev Gupta a day after his nephew, Sachin, was accused by the police of being involved in a Rs 35-crore textbook piracy case. But behind Friday’s raid on a godown where the books were being printed is a story of infighting in the BJP’s Meerut unit, ThePrint has learnt.
Sachin Gupta has been on the run since the joint operation by the Meerut police and the UP special task force Friday found a huge consignment of pirated National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) textbooks worth over Rs 35 crore from a godown outside Meerut city. An FIR was lodged against Sachin Gupta Saturday and four others have been arrested.
The police, it is believed, acted on an input received by military intelligence officers in early August.
Police officers told ThePrint that when they raided the Achronda Road godown, barely two kilometres away from the Partapur police station, they found pirated NCERT books being printed in large numbers.
At least 10 lakh copies were recovered, including those of physics, chemistry and mathematics textbooks for classes 9 to 12, the police said.
“The earlier estimate was about 1.5 lakh books, but after counting all, we have found that there were at least 10 lakh books and six printing presses. We have now sealed the factory,” said Anand Mishra, inspector at Partapur police station.
The police also said the books were being transported to Uttarakhand and Delhi. A team from the NCERT had also visited the police station Saturday to verify the recovered books.
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BJP sacks uncle, denies nephew links
The BJP quickly tried to mitigate the damage. Its Meerut unit president Mukesh Singhal told ThePrint that Sachin Gupta’s uncle Sanjeev Gupta has been removed from all party posts. Singhal also insisted that Sachin had never been in the BJP.
“Sachin Gupta has never been part of the BJP in any way. His uncle Sanjeev Gupta has sullied the image of the party with this controversy. That’s why we have removed him from all posts in the BJP. Had we known that this was going on, we would have acted earlier,” Singhal told ThePrint.
Sanjeev Gupta’s phone has been switched off over the last couple of days, and text messages did not elicit a response.
But a local Shiv Sena leader, who lives just down the road from the godown where the pirated books were recovered, said Sachin’s proximity to the BJP was well known.
“His personal vehicle always had a BJP flag. He was very well placed in the local BJP circle, with not just his uncle but the Meerut Cantonment MLA as well,” said the Sena leader, who didn’t wish to be named.
Avnish Kajla, Meerut district Congress president, added: “Whether in party events or election campaigns, Sachin Gupta was always a very prominent face. We have seen him actively working for the BJP. Both nephew and uncle were also close to the Meerut Cantt MLA, Satya Prakash Agarwal. Because they have been exposed, BJP is denying Sachin’s proximity to it now.”
Singhal, however, denied these links and said the fact that Sachin roamed around using the BJP’s name and symbols had only surfaced now. “We have only just found out that he even roamed around with a BJP flag on his vehicle, which has also hurt our party image. This has all happened because his uncle. We have acted on Sanjeev Gupta and will sack him once the FIR copy comes,” said Singhal.
ThePrint’s attempts to reach MLA Agarwal via phone calls didn’t bear fruit. The person who answered the phone first promised that the call would be returned, but later said it was a “wrong number”.
The police, however, said they are not probing any links to the BJP.
Other local leaders ThePrint spoke to alleged that the raid was the result of an internal fight over who the next candidate will be from the Cantt seat, which is a BJP stronghold, since the incumbent Agarwal is now in his 80s.
Sources claimed Mukesh Singhal and Sanjeev Gupta were both vying for the seat, which led to the tip-off about the illegal printing press, which was locally well known.
However, Singhal said: “Sanjeev Gupta was an ordinary worker. Yes, he was vice-president, but he was not in line for any MLA post. He couldn’t win even if he tried. There’s no such rift in the party. These are all rumours… The raids were only conducted on the basis of military intelligence and not due to any internal fight.”
The police said they now have information that the racket had been running for 10 years, but claimed they had no information earlier. “We acted as soon as we got information through the STF. We are only concentrating on nabbing Sachin Gupta and ensuring that all the pirated books are found,” said Mishra.
However, opposition leaders said the fact that the racket went on for so long indicated complicity of the BJP as well as the police.
“Partapur police station is hardly 2 km from this godown. Everyone knew Sachin Gupta’s links with the BJP. How could this go on for so long without complicity from the top?” Congress’ Kajla asked.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav also put out a tweet on the issue, saying the BJP, which is busy “changing the country’s education policy”, should first focus on moral education for its leaders.
शिक्षा-नीति में बदलाव करनेवाली भाजपा पहले अपने उन नेताओं को नैतिक-शिक्षा के पाठ पढ़ाए जो करोड़ों रूपये के ‘नकली किताबों’ के गोरखधंधे में संलिप्त हैं.
नक़ली ईमानदारी का चोगा ओढ़े लोगों का सच अब सामने आ गया है.
— Akhilesh Yadav (@yadavakhilesh) August 22, 2020
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