The Bharatiya Janata Party has accused the Akhilesh Yadav government of releasing hundreds of criminals on parole to influence the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections in its favour.

To capitalize on the release of criminals on parole, the BJP announced in its manifesto that if the party is voted to power, it will put all those prisoners who jumped parole behind bars within 45 days.

“The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) figures are misleading. After we form the government we will dig out the actual numbers of those who jumped parole,” says BJP spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi.

But the BJP itself is not completely clean. The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) analysis of affidavits for the first two phases of polling shows that all parties have people with criminal records in the fray with the BSP topping the list followed by the BJP and Samajwadi Party.

Despite the BJP’s claim, India’s prison statistics suggest 262 prisoners in UP jumped parole in 10 years from 2006 to 2015 against the all India figure of 6,902.

Samajwadi Party spokesperson Rajiv Rai dared BJP to first sack its state president Keshav Maurya who is facing criminal charges and also those with criminal records who joined the BJP from BSP ‘if it really wants to raise the issue of parole violations’.

UP’s additional inspector general of jails, Akhtar Niyaz says they had sent a list of prisoners who were granted parole in the past few months, to the Election Commission of India.

But many say that ganglords in UP wield so much influence that they don’t need to get out of jail to influence elections.

“Criminals feel safe inside the jail instead of outside while exercising their power to manipulate elections. They don’t need parole. And it is not only mobile phones the ganglords also execute their plans through visitors too,” says Congress spokesperson Satyadev Tripathi.

Dons like Mukhtar Ansari, Amarmani Tripathi, Munna Bajrangi, Brijesh Singh and Atiq Ahmad are lodged in different jails but they have the capabilities of influencing any election in any part of the state, say police sources.

Ironically, UP has been one of the toughest states in granting parole to prisoners in the last 10 years.

From 2006 to 2015, 2,80,566 prisoners were granted parole in the country including 1389 from UP which translates to a percentage of 0.49.

But when it comes to prisoners’ release on bail, UP has the highest figures in the country. In 2015, 2,01,474 undertrials were released on bail, a whopping 97.38 % of the total undertrials released. The number of convicts released on bail was more than 9600.

Former political science professor of Lucknow University SK Dwivedi says criminals in jails enjoy all facilities, thanks to political patronage. “Jail is a heaven for them and they are operating their business smoothly from the jail.”

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