Former Uttar Pradesh minister Amarmani Tripathi (66), along with his wife Madhumani (61), is set to walk out of Gorakhpur jail after 16 years, after the state government ordered their ‘premature release’ on Thursday.
The two had been convicted of the 2003 murder of 26-year-old poet Madhumita Shukla at her Lucknow residence. She was pregnant when she was killed. Later, her sister Nidhi Shukla claimed that Madhumita was close to Amarmani, who got her killed.
In 2007, a CBI court in Uttarakhand convicted Amarmani, Madhumani and two others, including Amarmani’s nephew Rohit Chaturvedi, for hatching a murder conspiracy and killingt he 26-year-old. In July 2012, the Uttarakhand High Court upheld the life term sentence by the CBI court to all four convicts. The court also handed down life imprisonment to Prakash Pandey, another associate of Tripathi.
At present, both of them are in Gorakhpur’s Baba Raghav Das (BRD) Medical College, where they have spent a major part of their sentence under “treatment” for various ailments.
As Amarmani and Madhumani walk out of jail, we republish three in-depth reports, from 2012, 2015 and 2022, highlighting the various events in the case.
For more than two years now, Room No. 8 of Nehru Chikitsalaya in Gorakhpur’s Baba Raghav Das Medical College has had only one occupant. Most days though, he can be found in Room No. 16, down the same corridor, where his wife is admitted. To keep out curious onlookers, the door curtains are always drawn and the windows sealed.
However, from this Uttar Pradesh town near the Nepal border, to Lucknow 273 km away, the two patients inside are an open secret.
Amarmani Tripathi and wife Madhumani may be serving life term for murder, but since their transfer to Gorakhpur jail in 2012, this has mostly been their home.
There are few intrusions, either from prison officials or doctors. Certainly none like July 10, when their son Amanmani was arrested, a day after his 27-year-old wife Sara died under mysterious circumstances.
Local reporters who rushed to Amarmani’s room were turned away. Hospital officials say Room Nos. 8 & 16 have been unusually quiet since.
On July 10, a day after Sara’s death, Amarmani’s brother Ajitmani and daughter Tanushree visited her family. “It was our first visit,” says Ajitmani. “We had never seen her.”
Amanmani was in school when his parents were arrested in 2003 for the murder of Madhumita Shukla, with whom Amarmani had an affair.
The family shares little on how the case involving an unborn child, the then minister, and a budding poetess, which was national news for days, had affected the Tripathis’ middle child.
Ajitmani says Amanmani’s parents put their only son in his care. “We grew up without our parents, but we are very close,” says elder sister Tanushree.
Even Amanmani’s age remains a matter of conjecture. Ajitmani says he should be about 28 now. However, in 2012, countering accusations of being younger than the minimum age of 25 required to contest Assembly polls, Amanmani had said he was 29.
Family members say Amanmani often visits his father in hospital and their relationship is cordial. However, Sara’s relatives say Amarmani was against their marriage. “This had led to fights between the father and son,” says an acquaintance of the Tripathis.
The Medical College Road where Baba Raghav Das Medical College is located is a crowded area. Traffic is chaotic, made worse by water logging.
Patients walking gingerly into Nehru Chikitsalaya, the medical college’s hospital, are greeted with a depressing sight. Its walls have not got a coat of paint in years, and its floors carry signs of permanent grime.
At the farthest end, past the canteen, lie the 32 private rooms. They are in a different, two-storey building, with its own entrance, and with little activity around.
There is one clear reason for this silent corner in a busy hospital. It houses at least seven murder convicts, including the Tripathis. They all shifted here between 2012 and 2013.
Around 10 security persons guard them. A homeguard sometimes sits near the ward but pays little attention to visitors.
At least five pairs of slippers are lined up outside Amarmani’s room. His opponents say the former BSP minister regularly hosts visitors, for “durbars”.
Amarmani and Madhumani have been admitted here since February 27, 2013, and March 13, 2013, respectively. “We send two letters to the medical college every month asking if they are fit to be brought back to prison. The doctors cite various ailments,” says a Gorakhpur prison official requesting anonymity.
A senior doctor, quoting from a hospital report to the prison, describes Amarmani’s diagnosis as “moderate depression with psychic symptoms and lumbar spondylosis” and Madhumani’s as “recurrent depression without psychic symptoms with suicidal ideas”.
While Gorakhpur prison jailor R K Singh says security outside the jail is the responsibility of police, Gorakhpur SSP Pradeep Kumar Yadav says it has to be shared between them and prison officials.
Amarmani and Madhumani were initially lodged in Haridwar jail after their conviction by a Dehradun court in 2007. The trial had been transferred to Uttarakhand on the request of Madhumita’s family.
However, first Madhumani was transferred to Gorakhpur jail, in 2008, and Amarmani followed in 2012, after cases of bounced cheques were lodged against them in nearby Maharajganj. Associates say the cases were a ploy to ensure that the two were kept in Gorakhpur.
“The couple have been in jail for years. How did they issue cheques?And what is their illness which is not getting cured?” asks Congress MLA from Nautanwa, Kunwar Kaushal Singh.
Singh incidentally had defeated Amanmani, then a Samajwadi Party nominee, in the 2012 Assembly elections.
The doctors at the medical college are unwilling to talk about the Tripathis. “The diagnosis of a patient is a confidential matter,” says Dr C P Mal of the psychiatry department.
While there are few visits by doctors to the two rooms, they insist treatment is on. Says Chief Medical Superintendent Dr Ram Yash Yadav, “Doctors go there for checks. That is the routine.” Sunil Arya, the medical college principal, adds, “If somebody is admitted to the hospital, he must be getting his check-ups done and taking medicines.”
On a Wednesday afternoon, a tall man knocks on Amarmani’s door. After a few seconds, he goes over to Madhumani’s room and stands there, appearing to have received some response from inside.
Another person outside Amarmani’s room says the former minister is taking rest as he has high blood pressure. However, there is no activity in his room and it remains unlit till up to 10 pm. By then, there are two constables outside Madhumani’s room.
“Amarmani and Madhumani’s stay in the medical college is a mockery of their sentences,” says Madhumita’s sister Nidhi Shukla, who had led the fight against Amarmani. “A medical board was set up to check their ‘illness’, but nothing happened. Amarmani leaves the hospital at night, goes home and returns the next morning.”
A sprawling house in pink sandstone, encircled by walls and a gate, Mani Bhawan stands out in Durgavani locality of Gorakhpur, just about 10 km from the jail.
Amarmani started out modestly, in Trilokpur village, just 2 km from the Nepal border, with father Krishna Narayan a sub-inspector. His entry into politics was no different from others like him in eastern UP who start out as strongmen. He shifted his base to near Gorakhpur in the mid-1980s.
He won his first election in 1996 as a Congress candidate, and in 2002, won as a BSP nominee and was made a minister by Mayawati. He was sacked in the wake of the Madhumita murder. While Amarmani already had several cases against him, most till the Madhumita one had collapsed.
Madhumani was identified as the main conspirator in the killing of Madhumita. But few who used to be close to the couple can tell much about her now. The lasting image is of a then 40-year-old who liked paan and who had her own contacts in the network of her husband. “She would lend money, and this was her business, separate from her husband’s,” says a former friend.
The Madhumita murder didn’t dent Amarmani’s political fortunes at first. After the BSP sacked him, he joined the SP.
Jai Prakash Shukla, a resident of Trilokpur village, praises Amarmani for “doing a lot of work”. “Even today his influence persists.”
Others are not so sure. While Amarmani won the 2007 elections from jail, the family has been losing since. His uncle Shyam Narayan Tiwari has not won an election since 2007. His brother Ajitmani lost the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, while Amanmani was defeated in 2012.
A senior functionary at St Paul’s School, where Amanmani studied for three years, recalls him as a “quiet boy”. “There was not one episode involving him,” says the official.
Neighbours say they know little about the family now, especially the younger generation. “Amanmani lived here but he would come out of the house in a car and go inside in a car. He never interacted with us,” says Sajid Ansari.
In his father’s political sphere though, he quickly made his presence felt. He managed the election of his imprisoned father in 2007, and was a part of Ajitmani’s campaign in the 2009 polls. While he himself lost in 2012, his performance was impressive.
Controversies too piled up. In June 2014, two cases were registered against him following a clash involving his supporters. Later, he faced a case of Dalit atrocity. “Police investigation cleared him of the latter charge, but there is a second probe on,” says Circle Officer Shrikant Prajapati.
The case in which Amanmani was finally arrested this month dates back to August last year, when contractor Rishi Kumar Pandey accused him of kidnapping him and demanding Rs 1 lakh. Amanmani was not arrested for nine months, even as he attended political programmes, till Sara’s death made it impossible for police to ignore him.
In April, another Gorakhpur resident, Neeraj Tiwari, accused Amanmani and his associates of assault.
“He is trying to become Amarmani,” says a former Amarmani associate, “but he is not his father.”
Distant relative Vinod Mani Tripathi calls Amanmani “sanskar viheen” (without values). “I told Amarmani, Aman should study. But he said if a politician’s son doesn’t get into politics, what will he do?” he says.
Ajitmani says Amanmani’s adversaries are just jealous of him. He also insists Sara and Amanmani’s marriage was not a big issue for the family. “The younger generation does not listen to anyone.”
A former friend of Amanmani, who calls him “quarrelsome”, also attests that Amanmani “passionately loved” Sara.
The Facebook timelines of Sara and Amanmani show a few romantic comments about each other, as well as others suggesting trouble in the relationship. Amanmani has nearly 3,000 followers, and he religiously follows all comments, liking each.
A fan of pop music, especially Shakira, Sara liked dressing up. The 27-year-old’s large circle of friends remembers her as wanting to stand out in a crowd. She also talked of going to Delhi to work as a lawyer with a multinational. No one recalls how or when she ran into Amanmani.
“Perhaps it was through some common friends,” is the consensus. Sara’s mother Seema Singh, who is a Congress worker, says she and Amanmani had known each other for just six months when they got married in July 2013.
Sara, a law graduate, was the smartest of her four children, Seema adds. “We had put up her profile on the Bharat Matrimony website and there were a lot of enquiries about her. But she always wanted to marry a person of her choice,” she says.
When Sara did marry, she kept her family in the dark. The family believes Amanmani threatened Sara into marrying him. They talk of an incident of firing outside their house just earlier.
Sara’s elder sister Neeti Mishra believes Amanmani was jealous of Sara’s friends. Her family says she was beaten up by him at least three times. “A year ago, Sara suffered a miscarriage after being assaulted,” Neeti says.
They would advise Sara to get a divorce, the family adds. “She would say yes. And then Aman talked her out of it,” says Neeti. A few weeks ago, Amanmani rented a house near the Singh home and assured that things would be all right. “This was to lower our guard so that we would let Sara go on a trip with him,” says her brother Harsh. “She was so excited about it, she called me to book a hotel in Delhi. The next day she told me Aman had booked a room. I always thought if Aman had to do something to my sister, they would make it look like an accident,” says Harsh.
“Sara would say Aman can do anything. He has killed her,” adds Seema, breaking down. “All children turn to their mothers when in trouble. She may also have called for me (in death).”
Springing to Amanmani’s defence, Tanushree again insists the wedding never bothered the Tripathis. Referring to their lives after the Madhumita case, she adds, “We were picked on in schools, bullied. We are the victims. I know Aman is 120 per cent innocent. I know him.”
Madhumita murder: Jailed Amarmani Tripathi, wife spend most time in hospital
(Reported by Manish Sahu; first published on July 18, 2012)
Former UP minister Amarmani Tripathi and his wife Madhumani Tripathi,whose life imprisonment for the murder of poetess Madhumita Shukla was upheld by the Uttarakhand High Court on Monday,have lately been passing most of their time in hospital ostensibly undergoing medical treatment.
While Madhumani has been hospitalised at Baba Raghav Das (BRD) Medical College in Gorakhpur for the last three months,her husband used to leave the jail every morning for a visit to the medical college until a few days ago,returning to jail only in the evening.
Madhumitas sister Nidhi Shukla said the couple made a mockery of their imprisonment with the connivance of authorities. She wants the two should serve their sentence according to the provisions of the jail manual. Under rules,they should be held in a central jail. However,they both are in Gorakhpur district jail,and the government has done nothing to send them back to Haridwar jail from where they had come.
Nidhi Shukla said she had written to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav,the DGP,Home Secretary and the SSP and DM of Gorakhpur regarding the couples illegal movement outside jail,particularly of Amarmani. She had demanded appointment of a medical board to ascertain their medical condition and to crack their nexus with doctors,but there had been no response.
Madhumani was sent to the medical college on the recommendation of a jail doctor on April 16. After arrival,she was admitted in a private ward. She was brought to Gorakhpur jail from Uttarakhand to face a trial in a case of cheque bouncing in 2008.
Sources said there was nothing seriously wrong with Madhumani to warrant her hospitalisation for three months. Hospital authorities say she has some psychological problem and pain in the spinal column.
But head of psychiatry department Dr Rajendra Chowdhary said he had no information about her condition and said associate professor Dr Tapas Kumar,would know. Dr Tapas declined to comment.
While Madhumani is mostly confined to hospital,Amarmani used to come out of jail every morning,ostensibly for physiotherapy at the medical college,and move around in his private vehicle,dressed in his own clothes and not in the jail uniform.
This continued regularly from mid-April this year to first week of July,except Sunday and holidays or when he was to appear before the court for hearing. Nothing in his schedule suggested he had any serious medical problem. Tripathi went to medical college for physiotherapy as per call by doctor of BRD Medical College, said Gorakhpur Jail Superintendent S K Sharma. In May,when the matter was highlighted in the media,the administration suspended four policemen,including a sub-inspector,who were on Tripathis security duty.
Former MLA from Maharajganj,Tripathi was convicted for the murder of poetess Madhumita Shukla,which took place at her Lucknow residence in 2003. At that time,he was in BSP. Party president Mayawati expelled him and referred the case to CBI. But the Samajwadi Party welcomed Tripathi with open arms. In the last Assembly elections,the SP gave the ticket to Tripathis son Amanmani Tripathi from Nautanva,but he lost.
Shooter Prakash Pandey goes missing
A day after the Uttarakhand High Court awarded life imprisonment to shooter Prakash Pandey in the Madhumita murder case,the Gorakhpur police have found itself in an awkward situation. For Pandey,who was in town yesterday,has gone missing as the police wait for a copy of the court judgment.
A native of Gorkahpurs Mohadipur locality,Pandey was let off by a CBI court in 2007 for want of evidence. He The investigating agency moved the Uttarakhand High Court and challenged the order. According to information,on Tuesday morning,Pandey told some mediapersons who visited his house that he would comply with the court direction. Thirty-two-year-old Pandey belongs to a well-to-do business family of Gorakhpur. After his acquittal in the murder case,he was working as a property dealer. Sources said when the police visited his house on Tuesday evening,they found him missing. The Gorakhpur police say they had gone to Pandeys residence just to check his presence because they have yet to receive any court direction for his arrest.
We have no information about the court order. Action would be taken if we gets any directon,said Additional SP Lallan Singh. Madhumitas elder sister Nidhi Shukla said she had informed the Gorakhpur police about Pandeys conviction by the cour. The police should have put a vigil on him to ensure that he did not escape till they received the court order. But the police did not act and he escaped, said Nidhi.
As 2 women fight on for ‘justice’, a battle lost: Aman Mani Tripathi gets BSP ticket
(Reported by Manish Sahu; first published on February 11, 2022)
For days now, two women have been sending letters and making the rounds of offices of different political parties here with one request: that a ticket not be given to Aman Mani Tripathi. On Thursday, the BSP fielded the murder accused from Nautanwa, in Maharajganj, the seat that the 31-year-old had won as an Independent in 2017.
Nidhi Shukla, 34, and Seema Singh, 65, see it as one more blow to their campaign for justice. While Aman Mani is an accused in the alleged murder in 2015 of his wife and Singh’s daughter Sara, and is out on bail, Aman Mani’s parents Amar Mani and Madhumani are serving life term for the killing in 2003 of Nidhi’s elder sister Madhumita.
Singh says that in the letters to political leaders, “I said that if people like Aman Mani and his parents come to power, they would damage the society and also harm the public.”
Then, a week ago, she heard that Aman Mani was meeting leaders of the BSP and they had promised him a ticket from Nautanwa. “I have been making efforts to meet BSP leaders since, but failed. Two days back, I came to know Seema Singh is also raising objections over Aman Mani’s ticket, so I contacted her,” says Shukla.
On Thursday, they both came together to the BSP headquarters in Lucknow in the morning. “We requested them to arrange a meeting for us with any senior leader, including Mayawati, Satish Mishra and Mewa Lal Gautam. After people there said they couldn’t help us, we decided to hold a silent protest at the gate of the party office,” says Shukla.
Later, police asked them to move.
The Nautanwa seat, which goes to polls on March 3, has around 3.5 lakh voters, dominated by OBCs and Scheduled Castes who number around 52,000 and 55,000, respectively. There are around 42,000 Muslim voters.
While in 2012, Aman Mani had contested as an SP candidate from Nautanwa and lost, he won in 2017 by 32,256 votes over his nearest rival, the SP’s Kunwar Kaushal Kishore Singh.
“In the last Assembly election, Aman Mani was in jail with his parents. His family members, including his uncle and sisters, pleaded with the public with folded hands to help them. Because of sympathy votes, Aman Mani won,” says Veerendra, who is also contesting from Nautanwa as an Independent.
The SP has again fielded Kishore Singh from the seat. The Congress candidate is Sada Mohan, while the NISHAD Party’s nominee is Rishi. The Aam Aadmi Party also has a candidate here, Bechan.
BSP spokesperson Faizan Khan said the ticket to Aman Mani was decided by a party committee. “The case of Nidhi Shukla and Seema Singh is their family matter. The party has nothing to do with their case.”
In February 2017, in a chargesheet against Aman Mani, the CBI had held him guilty of killing Sara by strangulation in 2015, as part of a “premeditated plan”. Sara had been found dead under mysterious circumstances in Firozabad district, with Aman Mani claiming their car had had an accident on the way to New Delhi. They had been married two years.
The probe had found that Sara was subjected to “physical torture and cruelty” by Aman Mani.
Madhumita Shukla was shot in Lucknow on April 9, 2003, with investigations showing she was pregnant at the time. She was in a relationship with Amar Mani Tripathi, then a minister in the BSP government.
Tripathi and his wife have spent a major part of their sentence under “treatment” for various ailments at BRD Medical College in Gorakhpur.
Shukla, who has a gunner for security provided by police, says she continues to face threats, but never misses a court date or fails to guard against preference to the Tripathis, using RTI as a tool for information. “I am fighting a powerful family. My personal life is ruined because of this,” she says.
Singh also has a police gunner, following threats she received. She fears that with the trial of the case on in a CBI court in Ghaziabad, Aman Mani and father Amar Mani could easily put pressure on witnesses. That’s her prime task, she adds: to ensure that witnesses “do not turn hostile”, and for that she regularly visits the CBI court.
While discouraged at Aman Mani getting a ticket, Shukla and Singh say they had no plans to campaign against him as of now. “It would not be safe for me to go to Nautanwa,” says Shukla.
She hopes a national party will step up to support her, adds Singh.
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