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This article was first published 7 years ago  » News » 'I will fight Shahabuddin till my last breath'

'I will fight Shahabuddin till my last breath'

By M I Khan
September 30, 2016 19:34 IST
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'I have nothing more to lose. My three sons were killed. I am not going to sit silent.'
M I Khan reports.

Mohammad Shahabuddin whose bail -- granted by the Patna high court earlier this month -- was cancelled by the Supreme Court on Friday, September 30, was a law unto himself and ruled Siwan district in north Bihar for almost a decade at the turn of this century when he enjoyed the patronage of the Rashtriya Janata Dal which was in power then.

Among the 63 cases pending against Shahabuddin in the courts, a number of them pertain to 'conspiring' to steal a bicycle, motorcycle, mobile phone and electricity.

The only 'real' case he is accused of, Shahabuddin maintained, is an attack on the police at his native village Pratappur.

But Chandrakeshwar Prasad and his wife Kalavati Devi, whose three sons were allegedly killed by the former RJD MP's henchmen, will differ with Shahabuddin on that.

After the Supreme Court rejected Shahabuddin's bail and sent him back to jail, the couple said: "Aaj aisa laga ke nyay bhi hota hain. Supreme Court ne nyay kiya hain. Hum khush hain, mere ankhon mein aansu hain lekin yeh khushi ke hain (Justice has prevailed today. We are happy with the Supreme Court's verdict. My eyes are moist, but they are tears of hoy)," Chandrakeshwar, who is in his late 70s, said.

"I will fight against Shahabuddin till my last breath. I have nothing more to lose. My three sons were killed. I am not going to sit silent," he added.

"Shahabuddin deserve harsh punishment," his wife Kalavati Devi added. "We will celebrate the day he is awarded the death sentence."

Unlike September 10, when Shahabuddin's supporters burst crackers outside his house after the Bahubali's release from Bhagalpur jail, Chandrakeshwar feels no fear now.

"We have been provided security. Police personnel have been deployed outside my house and the district administration has been doing everything to protect us," he said.

Shahabuddin was arrested in 2003 after he surrendered in a local court in connection with two criminal cases and later got bail. He was re-arrested in 2005 in Delhi after which he spent 11 years in prison.

Most of the criminal cases against Shahabuddin -- ranging from murder, extortion and kidnapping -- were lodged during the years RJD chief Lalu Prasad and his wife Rabri Devi ruled the state. He was convicted in seven cases.

After the RJD was ousted from power in 2005, Shahabuddin lost much of his clout in Siwan.

When Shahabuddin met his supporters at Pratappur, after his release on bail a fortnight ago, BJP MP Om Prakash Yadav challenged him to field his wife Heena Sahab to contest the polls and ensure her victory if he enjoyed the people's support.

Shahabuddin's wife lost two successive Lok Sabha elections after her husband was jailed. The RJD lost the polls in Jiradei and Siwan, both of which were considered his strongholds.

Shahabuddin's rise as a muscleman began when he was elected an independent legislator. In 1995, he joined hands with Lalu Yadav and contested and won the assembly polls. In 1996, he won the Lok Sabha election from Siwan.

Several people are unaware that Shahabuddin holds a master's degree and has completed his PhD. His teacher Ravi Shankar Pandey, who taught him science and math, recalls him as a bright student and a promising cricket player.

"Before Lalu came into the picture in the early 1990s, Shahabuddin was supported by the landed upper castes to counter the rise of the CPI-ML (Communist Party of India-Marxist-Leninist). His rise in politics is linked with the tacit support of the powerful upper castes to defeat the CPI-ML," says one political analyst.

His popularity soared in the mid-1990s when he ordered Siwan's doctors and lawyers to stop charging exorbitant fees from the people. Shahabuddin also acquired a large plot of land to set up an educational institute. He is also said to have helped many poor people by providing dowry and cash for their daughters' weddings.

Amid this populist image, Shahabuddin was linked with the murder of political rivals, the most infamous being the killing of former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union president Chandrasekhar in 1997.

Until the 2005 assembly polls, the campaign vehicles of other political parties were not permitted on the roads of Siwan. Rival party workers were scared even to put up posters in the north Bihar constituency.

The CPI-ML was the only political force in Siwan that openly challenged Shahabuddin. When no one else dared, CPI-ML leader Amar Nath Yadav contested the election against Shahabuddin at great risk to his life.

When the state was under President's rule in March 2005, IAS officer C K Anil and IPS officer Ratan Sanjay, then the district magistrate and superintendent of police of Siwan respectively, cracked down on Shahabuddin, externing him from the district.

Shahabuddin was convicted for the first time in 2007 for the abduction of CPI-ML worker Chote Lal Gupta. Sentenced to life in prison, he was thereafter convicted in half a dozen other cases.

Photograph: PTI Photo

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