“Md. Shahabuddin, Bail and the BJP”
Md. Shahabuddin’s Release and his Grand-Welcome
In a much-anticipated Supreme Court’s decision that cancelled the bail granted by Patna High Court to a dreaded criminal and Bihar’s Gangster Md. Shahabuddin, the people of Bihar and more particularly the people of Siwan can breathe a sigh of relief after the Gangster turned politician is once again sent behind the bars by the virtue of Supreme Court’s order that cancelled his bail granted by the Patna High Court.He was granted bail by the High Court on September 7, in connection with the murder of Rajiv Roshan, the sole eye-witness in a much talked about brutal killing of his two brothers Satish and Girish in Siwan upon Shahabuddin’s direction by drenching them into acid. The brutal manner in which both the brothers were killed had shocked the entire nation. Md. Shahabuddin after getting bail from the Patna High Court walked out of Jail on September 10, with a grand welcome of his cheerleaders and sympathisers which included several MLAs and ministers of the current grand alliance governmemt in Bihar apart from the general public who otherwise mourn to be the victim of ‘Jungle-Raj’. He was escorted from the Bhagalpur Jail to his village Pratappur in Siwan by a cavalcade of 1300 SUVs, Scorpios, Pajeros, Fortuners etc. accompanied by his huge number of followers and admirers.
The Moral Quandary of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar
The release of Md. Shahabuddin from the Jail generated an expected big brouhaha and political uproar in Bihar’s politics with the BJP blaming the Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to succumb to Mr. Lalu Prasad Yadav’s pressure and paving the way for the Gangster’s release by not opposing his bail strongly in the Court. This release had left the Nitish Kumar led Bihar Government in a ‘Catch 22’ situation as on one hand Md. Shahabuddin is considered a close aide and a right hand to his grand alliance partner Mr. Lalu Prasad Yadav and on the other hand his release was a major blow to his self-created image of “Sushashn Babu”. Moreover, the Nitish Kumar’s nervousness was further enhanced by Shahabuddin’s open opposition to him after coming out of Jail by terming him a ‘Circumstanicial Chief Minister’. No leader of RJD, the Party with which Md. Shahabuddin has an association with, expressely dismissed this statement of Shahabuddin which must have acted as an adding fuel to the fire for Nitish Kumar in the prevailing circumstances. There is no doubt that all these events had left the Chief Minister Nitish Kumar red-faced and it was becoming difficult for him to save his face in the wake of his strong prior commitment to prioritise ‘Rule of Law’ in the State above his all other committments. The moral quandary of Nitish Kumar could be well understood by the fact that after many a days of Md. Shahabuddin’s release his Government found it perplexing to announce whether it shall go in appeal before the Supreme Court or not against the order of the Patna High Court that enabled the Gangster to come out of Jail. It was only after the celebrated Public interest lawyer and Swaraj Abhiyan’s leader Prashant Bhushan decided to challenge the Patna High Court’s order, that the Nitish Government woke up from its slumber and decided to simultaneously challenge the Gangster’s release in the Supreme Court of India along with Prashant Bhushan.
The Politics, Blame-Game and the Hypocrisy of BJP-led NDA
The BJP-led NDA opposition camp in Bihar, started making anticipated pandemonium overthe Gangster’s release by terming it as as a “Well planned strategy” of the Nitish Kumar led Government. The senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi said, “It is a managed bail. It is a Government’s well planned strategy which cleared the way of Md. Shahabuddin in securing bail.” He also added, “The Government could neither begin trial of Rajiv Roshan murder case within nine months as per the High Court’s direction, nor engaged top lawyers to oppose Shahabuddin’s bail.”The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) had also staged protests across the State against the release of RJD Strongman Md. Shahabuddin. The NDA leaders and workers had staged dharnas at all district headquarters across the state to protest against his release. An NDA delegation had also met the Governor of Bihar in this context claiming, ‘Md. Shahabuddin out of Jail and Rule of Law cannot co-exist in Bihar’. In my opinion, these all allegations upon Nitish Kumar and grand alliance in Bihar by BJP-led NDA, seems to be true beyond any reasonable doubt but there are other sides of the coin too. They too will have to answer certain questions to satisfy the public at large that they were indeed concerned about Md. Shahabuddin’s release and that all the brouhaha was not just a political opportunity that they were discovering in the Gangster being set free. There are certain questions which deserve satisfactory answers from them.
The Questions which BJP needs to answer on this issue
The High Court in February itself had directed the State to complete Md. Shahabuddin’s trial in nine months.Mr. Sushil Kumar Modi said, “The Government could neither begin trial of Rajiv Roshan murder case within nine months as per the High Court’s direction, nor engaged top lawyers to oppose Shahabuddin’s bail.” My question to him in particular and his Party in general is that, ‘Was Bihar BJP and Mr. Sushil Kumar Modi in slumber for last 7 months when the Bihar Government had not made any progress in the said case despite High Court’s direction or was he and his Party waiting for the bail to be granted to Md. Shahabuddin so that allegations can be put upon the grand alliance and Nitish Kumar when Md. Shahabuddin is released from the Jail and may thus reap the political benefits out of it? How many times did he and his Party raise their voice in the last 7 months for Md. Shahabuddin’s trial being not conducted by the State despite HC’s ruling? Were they not aware of the facts that his trial is not being conducted in defiance of the High Court’s order? Where were BJP and Mr. Sushil Kumar Modi, when Md. Shahabuddin had been getting bails after bails in rest of the cases against him? Why was not the similar outcry made by them previously when he was constantly getting bails in several other cases? If they considered Md. Shahabuddin to be such a big threat and menace for the society, why did they not decide to legally support Chanda Babu by engaging a top lawyer to represent him, especially when Bihar Government was in dilemma about whether to go in appeal or not against the Patna High Court order? Is there any dearth of good lawyers inside his Party or is BJP an economically ‘Poor Party’ to assist the victim legally and economically? Why an independent lawyer like Prashant Bhushan had to stand for this cause who has several other important matters to deal with on daily basis? The BJP-led NDA had made a similar furore after the murder of journalist Rajdeo Ranjan in Siwan, allegedely upon Md. Shahabuddin’s direction in which the Bihar government had to refer the matter for CBI probe under intense Media and opposition pressure. The probe in this matter could start only in the last month under Media pressure when the matter got highlighted once again after Md. Shahabuddin came out of Jail. The slain journalist’s wife had to even meet the Home Ministetr Rajnath Singh to requesthim to direct the CBI to soon start the probe in the matter. She had said after meeting the Home Minister that, “Since nobody was listening to us in Bihar, I met Rajnath Singh. He assured me that the matter will bee forwarded to the competent authority. There has been no word yet on when CBI will take over the murder case. For the last four months, we have been getting only assurances from several quarters.” My question to Mr. Sushil Modi is why the slain journalist’s wife had to say that no one is listening to her in Bihar? Did he ask his BJP-led Government in the centre to make sure that an early probe by the CBI in this journalist’s murder case gets started? This was comparatively an easy task for him as his Government was in power at the centre under whose jurisdisction the CBI functions. Did he write to to the Central Government in this regard?One more perplexing observation which I made is that hardly any senior leader of BJP on national level made any statement against Md. Shahabuddin’s release and primarily only the Bihar BJP unit was handling the matter. This question becomes pertinent in the wake of BJP President Amit Shah’s previous remark during his Bihar elecetion campaign that, “If grand alliance wins Bihar election, it would be Md. Shahabuddin who would be mostly benefitted.” Isn’t it strange that when Md. Shahabuddin was behind the bars, he was referred by the BJP President in his election speech but when he indeed come out of the Jail, the same Amit Shah maintained an intriguing silence on his release? Does it not indicate that Md. Shahabuddin was just an issue of political mentioning for Amit Shah during the Bihar state elections? These are some questions which Mr. Sushil Kumar Modi and his party cannot escape as they have a moral obligation to answer these in public interest to show that Md. Shahabuddin’s release from the Jail was a real concern for them and not a fake agitation to gain the maximum possible political mileage in the matter.
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