Uttar Pradesh Governor T V Rajeshwar has reprimanded Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav for his defence of Students Islamic Movement of India, whose suspected involvement in the Mumbai blasts is currently under heavy scrutiny.
Rajeshwar is understood to have shot off a stern letter to Mulayam, asking him whether there was any move by the chief minister's secretariat to withdraw criminal cases against SIMI activists.
As many as 700 persons were taken into police custody for their alleged involvement in the 2001 Kanpur riots, that left 16 dead. These included more than a dozen SIMI activists including its chief Aamir, who was currently lodged in the Kanpur jail.
Taking cognizance of news reports about the chief minister and his minister brother Shivpal Yadav's bid to give a clean chit to SIMI, the Governor has sought to know what led them to hold a brief for the banned organisation when investigation agencies were probing its activities.
Governor Rajeshwar is believed to have also sent a detailed report in this regard to the Union Home ministry.
Meanwhile, Mulayam is under heavy fire from different opposition parties for seeking to defend SIMI. "It was a matter of shame that the chief minister was going out of his way to shield an organisation, whose militant antecedents and terrorist links were an open secret", observed Bhartiya Janata Party state chief Keshri Nath Tripathi.
BJP also staged a sit in demonstration in Lucknow Saturday to mark its protest against the Mulayam government's move to withdraw cases against SIMI.
Highly critical of the chief minister, a delegation of state Congress leaders gave a memorandum to the Governor urging him to restrain Mulayam from using the Mumbai blasts to play minority vote politics, by defending SIMI.