Shahabuddin's bail: Bihar BJP raises uncomfortable questions for Nitish Kumar
The Bihar BJP has levelled some serious allegations against the state government after bail was granted to gangster-politician Mohammad Shahabuddin.
The dreaded strongman of Siwan walked free after 11 years, following his release in the early hours of 10 September from Bhagalpur central prison. He was granted bail by the Patna High Court on 7 September, in connection with a murder case.
Sushil Modi's suspicions
The Leader of the Opposition in Bihar, BJP's Sushil Kumar Modi, has alleged that he suspects that the Bihar government was behind Shahabuddin's bail. The former RJD MP was arrested in 2005, and was in prison since then. Over the last decade, he received bail in at least 49 cases. The recent bail was in the case of the murder of a man who was a prime eyewitness of the killing of two of his brothers. The twin murders were also allegedly committed by Shahabuddin.
Modi said a court had issued directions in February 2016 that the trial in the case be expedited, and be concluded within nine months. However, the trial didn't progress, and when he received bail, the court order noted that the bail was being ordered because there was no progress in the trial and Shahabuddin served a long period in detention.
Modi said unequivocally that the Bihar government must answer why the trial didn't begin even after seven months. He noted that the trial could also have been conducted via video conferencing, but the government did not make arrangements for the same.
He alleged that the absence of a trial in the case was a strategy employed by the state government to ensure that the gangster walked free. He also alleged that the state government deliberately fielded junior lawyers and not the top law officers of the government nor top Supreme Court lawyers to prosecute Shahabuddin. He also drew an analogy between the cases of Shahabuddin and another strongman, former JD(U) MLA Anant Singh.
Modi pointed out that even though Singh was not convicted in any criminal case, the state government got him arrested under the Crime Control Act, claiming that he was a threat to public order. He asked why the same couldn't be done against Shahabuddin, especially given that he faced dozens of cases. He took on the Bihar Chief Minister directly, asking Nitish whether he was afraid of risking his alliance with RJD by arresting Shahabuddin under CCA.
Nitish has maintained studied silence over the issue so far. His party Janata Dal (United) has only said so far that before raising the issue of Shahabuddin's bail, BJP should answer questions on the bail given to BJP chief Amit Shah.
However, the Bihar government will not be able to deflect the questions for long. It has already received a lot of flak for a perceived deterioration in the law and order situation in the state in the first few months after the installation of the new government.
One of the most sensational cases of this period, of the murder of journalist Rajdeo Ranjan in Siwan, remains unsolved, even as the prime suspect, already in custody, is said to be linked to Shahabuddin.
A CBI probe was ordered long back in the case but is yet to begin. Ranjan's wife, Asha Ranjan, had recently met Home Minister Rajnath Singh in Delhi over the delay.
Edited by Shreyas Sharma
More in Catch