[dropcap]F[/dropcap]ormer Member of Parliament (MP) from Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) Mohammad Shahabuddin was released from the Bhagalpur jail on September 10, after 11 years. Mafia don Shahabuddin has been in news for the serious crimes, including numerous murders and attempts to murder, he has committed. His supporters are rejoicing over his release from the jail, and giving him grand welcome as if some king has arrived. RJD leaders’ bee lined outside the jail to greet this leader and criminal, however, this gesture has given big shock for JDU. This has become a twisted plot, the most ambitious step ever taken by Nitish Kumar, to become the Prime Minister of India. This step might eventually end up nixing his prime ministerial ambitions. However, anything can happen in politics, you never know!
The fact is that, Nitish Kumar’s efforts had put Shahabuddin behind the bars in 2005, signalling the political and figurative end of Bihar’s 15-year nightmare under former CM Lalu Prasad Yadav. In May 2006, Nitish Kumar’s National Democratic Alliance government set up a number of special courts for trying criminal-dons including MP Suraj Bhan Singh and MP Prabhunath Singh from Nitish Kumar’s own party, Janata Dal (United). However, Shahabuddin claimed to have suffered a slipped disc, and was not in a position to appear in court. Medical reports however, indicated that he was fit to walk. In any event, two special courts were set up inside Siwan Jail to try the cases pending against him. There were more than thirty criminal cases pending, including eight of murder, and 20 of attempted murder, kidnapping, extortion, etc. Of these, charges were initially framed in eight cases. Besides these police-registered cases, many other crimes are unreported. These include a large number of “disappearances” from Siwan; reports in the media allege that as many as a hundred bodies may be buried on the grounds of Shahabuddin’s well-fortified Pratappur palace, the venue where the entire Bihar state police had to retreat after a fierce firefight while attempting to serve a warrant in 2001 (the three policemen killed in this battle also figure in the list of cases against him).
Dogged to cleanse the ill-effects of Lalu raj, Nitish had tied up with the BJP and ushered in Bihar’s own glasnost and restructuring. The reformist steps ensured restoration of law and order and the state was hurled back into the path of growth, earning Nitish the moniker of ‘sushasan babu’. Now after the release of Shahabuddin, the mafia-don-turned RJD leader his goons have become bold. They are active again. Truly, this is an awkward moment for CM Nitish Kumar. If he cannot put pressure on Lalu to rein in Shahabuddin, it will send an unmistakable message that he has been held to ransom by a rogue ally. There have been allegations that the state government did not secure the best legal help to keep Shahabuddin in jail. Shahabuddin is possibly the most prominent criminal-politician in India today; he has set a standard to which other criminal-politicians are compared with. Consequently, the Nitish Kumar government felt it important to bring some convictions against this noted criminal, thus re-inforcing its clean image.
Meanwhile, the seasoned criminal Md Shahabuddin was elected for four successive terms to the Lok Sabha between 1996 and 2008. In the 2009 general elections, the RJD had put up his wife Hena Shahab from Siwan constituency in Bihar, but his long-time opponent Om Prakash Yadav defeated her by 63,000 votes. In 2004, Shahabuddin’s opponents were intimidated against campaigning even though he was in prison during the elections. Immediately after the elections, which he won by a margin of 100,000 votes, nine party workers of the nearest candidate Om Prakash Yadav of JDU were found murdered, allegedly for daring to put up a credible fight. He has been winning Lok Sabha elections from Siwan since 1996, prior to which he was elected twice to the Bihar Legislative Assembly (1990 and 1995). Few opponents dare campaign publicly for fear; in addition, he is widely believed to have rigged many polling stations in the past.
In May 2007, Shahabuddin was found guilty in a case of “abducting with intent to murder”, and he was sentenced to life imprisonment. This may mean that he would be unable to contest any subsequent elections. He is out on bail. Shahabuddin came into the political limelight while at college in the 1980s. He came to be known for his daredevil fighting and his opposition to the growing reach of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) (CPI-ML) and the Bharatiya Janata Party. The first criminal case against Shahabuddin was filed in 1986. Since then, Shahabuddin has accumulated an extensive criminal record, primarily in the Hussain Ganj police station at Siwan, where he is listed as a history-sheeter type A (a hardened criminal with a history of crime). Type A is taken to indicate criminals who are beyond reform.
This is half criminal biography of mafia don who is out on bail, in the next edition I will conclude his criminal activity and political journey.
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