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April 1, 2000
'Absconding' Samata MLA Sunil Pandey arrested
Our Correspondent in Patna
Sunil Pandey, the underworld don-turn-Samata Party legislator who has been evading arrest for the last couple of years, was finally arrested by the Patna police moments after he came out of the Bihar assembly after taking oath on Friday afternoon. He has been sent to the Ara jail as his arrest warrant was issued from there.
Another don who is yet to surrender is Dhummal Singh, an independent MLA who also supported Nitish Kumar in his brief attempt at forming the government.
Pandey, whose original name is Narendra Kumar Pandey, is one of the 'commanders' of the Ranvir Sena, the private army of Bhumihar farmers. According to police sources he was wanted in a number of cases. He is alleged to have led marauders in at least two cases of massacres against Harijans in central Bihar.
Pandey's arrest had been expected as he informed the speaker, Sadanand Singh, about his decision to take oath. He arrived at the assembly around 3:30 pm.
The bearded Pandey, who represents the Piro segment in Bhojpur district, came along with the independent legislator Jagdish Sharma. A contingent of police led by DSP (law and order) had a tough time when he finally emerged from the assembly building, as a large number of second-rung Samata leaders and supporters were present there with garlands in hand. They raised slogans in his favour even as he was taken into custody.
Sunil's arrest was certainly not as dramatic as his remaining at large had been. According to Samata leaders in the assembly, he was present inside Raj Bhavan when Nitish Kumar took oath as the chief minister on March 3. Not only that, on a couple of occasions during the eight-day Nitish government he came to the assembly but did not enter the building. Despite this he could not be arrested for the obvious reason that he was a member of the then ruling party.
A junior police official present at the time of Pandey's arrest later told rediff.com that arresting Dhummal Singh would not be so easy. Dhummal has been absconding for the last 22 years and is wanted by police for four other states. However, he will have to come to the assembly to take oath if he wants to remain an MLA.
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