About six years ago, a little-known outfit came to the limelight for vandalising a statue of BSP chief Mayawati in Lucknow. Some members of the Uttar Pradesh Navnirman Sena, headed by Amit Jani, were later arrested for the incident.
The UP Navnirman Sena claimed it carried out the vandalism as it was unhappy with Mayawati's “anti-upper caste” policies.
Fast forward to 2018 and the UP Navnirman Sena is back in the headlines and for the wrong reasons again. In the past week, the UP Navnirman Sena announced it planned to give Lok Sabha tickets to Shambulal Regar, who is accused of killing a Muslim labourer in Rajasthan's Rajasamand last year, and Rupendra Rana, accused of being part of a mob that lynched a Muslim over claims of eating beef at Dadri near Noida in 2015.
While the UP Navnirman Sena wants Regar to contest from Agra, it has proposed to nominate Rana from Gautam Budh Nagar constituency in Noida.
The UP Navnirman Sena is a political outfit that has a limited following in western Uttar Pradesh, in the areas surrounding Meerut.
Jani, a youth, had formed the UP Navnirman Sena in 2009 as an attempt at registering his protest against attacks on north Indians in Maharashtra by Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. Jani had tried to contest Lok Sabha polls from Bagpat, which is near Meerut.
Jani, who is a resident of Shivshakti Nagar, Meerut, has more than six criminal cases registered against him at Meerut, Jyotibha Phule Nagar and Dehradun. Jani is known to have a penchant for publicity and likes to stay in the news. He has often been seen roaming around in luxury cars with armed guards.
Interestingly, Jani claims to be close to the Samajwadi Party. According to Jani, he had brought 5,000 youths into the fold of the Samajwadi Party. In addition, Jani had supported the Samajwadi Party in the 2012 assembly polls by organising public meetings.
The UP Navnirman Sena had ransacked a Shiv Sena office in Chipi Tank area of western Uttar Pradesh.
In the last assembly polls, Jani had shown black flags to Congress president Rahul Gandhi, for which a case was registered.
Jani had been arrested previously for controversial acts such as putting up hoardings against Kashmiris, asking them to return to Kashmir, a couple of years ago.
In October 2017, he was arrested for posting images of the Taj Mahal with saffron flags on social media. In 2016, Jani was accused of threatening to behead JNU student protest leaders Umar Khalid and Kanhaiya Kumar.