India’s first ever Happiness Minister goes on run following murder of opposition politician

Lal Singh Arya, 53, has been missing since last week after a warrant was issued for his arrest

Ciara Nugent
Thursday 14 December 2017 17:32
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Lal Singh Arya, from the ruling BJP party, is India's only Happiness Minister
Lal Singh Arya, from the ruling BJP party, is India's only Happiness Minister

A manhunt is under way for India’s first ever ‘Happiness Minister’ after he fled an arrest for murder charges, say police.

Lal Singh Arya, 53, disappeared on Tuesday after being named a suspect in the murder of opposition politician Makhanlal Jatav.

Mr Jatav, from the Congress party, was shot dead while out campaigning for another candidate in April 2009.

An arrest warrant was issued last week by a court in Bhind.

Mr Arya has previously denied the charges.

He is the head of India’s only Department for Happiness. Set up by the government in the central state of Madhya Pradesh in 2016, it is tasked with improving “the happiness and tolerance of its citizens” and “putting a smile on everyone’s face” through services such as free yoga and meditation classes.

Mr Arya, of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), had been due to appear before court on December 19th.

Police were unable to find him at his home, his official residence or in his home town.

“Police teams are still looking for him. We are positive that we will track him down by then,” Superintendent Prashant Khare told AFP.

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