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March 19, 2001
The Rediff Interview/ Mohammad Shahabuddin
In his mid-thirties Mohammad Shahabuddin stormed into the Bihar assembly for the first time in 1990 as an Independent from Jiradie, the ancestral village of India's first President, Dr Rajendra Prasad. A case was filed against him then that he was not 25 when he won the election, but by the time the judgment came, that assembly's term had expired.
In 1995 he joined the then Janata Dal and in 1996 became its MP from Siwan for the first time. He owes his rise to the Brahmin, Bhumihar and Rajput farmers who needed him most for their fight against the CPI-ML.
Now a rebel Rashtriya Janata Dal MP, Shahabuddin is in no mood to surrender before the rebellious policemen of his hometown, Siwan. He invited their wrath by allegedly slapping the deputy superintendent of police outside an examination centre.
A day later, agitated policemen swooped down on his native village and in the exchange of fire and subsequent violence, about a dozen lives were lost.
On Sunday, Shahabuddin spoke to Soroor Ahmed from his hideout over a mobile phone.
What led to the clash between your supporters and the police in your village, Pratapur, on Friday?
We have formed a Kadachar Nivaran Udan Dasta (a flying squad for the removal of unfair means in exam). It was because of our efforts that Siwan has witnessed the smallest number of cases of the use of unfair means in examination. On Thursday we received two complaints. The first one from the DAV College centre where a constable, who was appearing in the high school examination, was expelled as he was found cheating. He threatened the centre superintendent of examination, Professor B N Dubey, with dire consequences.
The second case came from the Daroga Prasad Rai College examination centre where the brother of a sub inspector, Bharat Ram, was openly indulging in unfair means. It is to hide this incident that the police gave a twist to the entire incident. You can take the phone number from me and ask Professor Dubey whether this is true or not.
But the police said you manhandled them when they wanted to arrest Thakur Manoj Kumar Pappu, who was wanted in a kidnapping case, and was accompanying you.
I have read two varied versions by the police in newspapers. They are all wrong. True, Pappu was with me then, but he was there in his capacity as district president of the Rashtriya Janata Dal.
Why does your name always figures in such incidents?
No. It is for the last ten years that my name has been dragged in all the incidents. All the MPs in this period wrote to their higher ups that I run a parallel government. This is simply because it is because of my efforts that there is hardly any crime in Siwan. No extortion, no murder, the town has never witnessed any communal or caste violence in the last ten years, there is complete peace. Hindus and Muslims are living together with amity. The police are not getting any opportunity to earn money. This is why the police have singled me out.
Surprisingly, it is not only the Bihar police, but the Provisional Armed Constabulary of Uttar Pradesh which has indulged in large scale loot and arson. The arms being displayed by the police to the mediapersons do not belong to us. The police only want to make a false case against me and my supporters.
Is it true you slapped the deputy superintendent of police?
This is a matter of inquiry. And if the charge of the policeman is proved right, then I will quit politics. You come to my district and see for yourself how peaceful it is.
Do you think this happened because you are in the camp of rebel RJD leader, Dr Ranjan Prasad Yadav?
No, no, no. I am not in any camp. After all, it is the government of my own party. In the present situation the RJD government is simply helpless. What can one do when policemen start behaving like this?
Are you going to surrender?
There is no question of surrendering. The police are trying to make the issue an ego clash. Instead it is the SP, B S Meena (both he and District Magistrate Rashid Ahmed Khan were transferred on Sunday night) who should surrender first as he has killed innocent people, including old people and children.
Are you still in your village, Pratapur?
Yes, I am still in my village, but not in my own house.
Design: Domnic Xavier
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