By Arun Srivastava
Perseverance of the real politick finally prevailed over the political morality and forced the Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar to release the gangster, Anand Mohan. Unlike the Gujarat’s BJP government and Union home ministry which had released rapists and killers, without caring for the set legal norms and rules, Kumar government removed a clause earlier this month that prohibited the remission of jail term for those convicted of murdering a public servant, benefitting Anand Mohan, a Rajput leader. Otherwise too Anand had completed his life term in jail.
G Krishnaiah, a dalit, the then District Magistrate of Gopalganj, was killed by a mob allegedly at the provocation of Anand Mohan. A lower court had sentenced him to death in 2007. However, the Patna High Court commuted it to life imprisonment, which was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2012. The state’s law department stated in its notification that the new rules apply to prisoners who have served the actual sentence of 14 years or a sentence of 20 years with remission. It is worth mentioning that in March 2021, Nitish had rejected the demand to remit Anand Mohan’s jail term. At that time BJP was Nitish’s ally. He didn’t have “upper-caste insecurities”.
The clause of the Rule 481(i)(a) of the Bihar jail manual makes it amply clear: “Every convicted prisoner, whether male or female, undergoing sentence of life imprisonment and covered by the provisions of Section 433A CrPC, shall be eligible to be considered for premature release from prison immediately after serving out the sentence of 14 years of actual imprisonment, i.e. without the remissions.”
Other convicts of heinous crimes benefiting from the government order include Dasgir Khan (75), Pappu Singh alias Rajiv Ranjan Singh (43), Ashok Yadav (46), Rajballabh Yadav alias Bijli Yadav (82), Shivji Yadav (420, Kirath Yadav (65), Collector Paswan (40), Kishundev Rai (65), Surendra Sharma (68), Devnandan Nonia (49), Rampravesh Singh (69), Vijay Singh (59), Ramadhar Ram (50), Patiram Ram (93), Hridaynarayan Sharma (55), Manoj Prasad (67), Panchadand Paswan (43), Jitendar Singh (78), Bindeshwari Yadav (83), Khelawan Yadav (85), Allauddin Ansari (42), Mohammed Khudbuddin (36), Sikandar Mahto (44) and Awadhesh Mandal (42).
A closer look at the names of the prisoners released makes it sure that Nitish could not be accused of helping only the Rajput prisoners. It includes OBCs, Dalits and Paswans. Obviously the accusation of BSP chief Mayawati does not hold. She said; “The move by the Nitish government to prepare the release of Anand Mohan after changing rules in the case of the brutal murder of extremely honest IAS officer G Krishnaiah, who belonged to a poor Dalit family from Andhra Pradesh’s Mehboobnagar (now in Telangana), is being discussed for negative and anti-Dalit reasons in the whole country”.
For quite some time Nitish has been facing severe pressure from the Rajputs of the state to release him as he had completed 14 years. In January this year, JD(U) held a Rajput conference in Patna where he was greeted with ‘free Anand Mohan chants from the supporters of the jailed gangster-politician. Nitish’s reply was: “You don’t worry about him, I’m trying my best.” Nitish and his deputy Tejashwi Yadav even attended the engagement function of Chetan Anand, an RJD legislature on Monday
The immediate reason which conjured Nitish to agree to his release has been the plan of the BJP to push the state in a class war by pitting the Rajputs and other upper castes against the OBCs and EBCs. Only a couple of months back, the entire village dominated by Yadavs was burnt in Gopalganj by Rajputs against the thrashing of their castemen by the Yadavs of that village.
Of late BJP leaders have been desperately striving to forge some kind of alliance between the upper caste and the OBC. Anand’s release ought to be seen as an attempt of Nitish to foil any such saffron move. In fact Uma Devi, wife of Krishnaiah just after the order was passed, commented; “We are not happy, as it is wrong. There is caste politics in Bihar. He is a Rajput and can garner the votes of his community. That is why he is being released from jail. Otherwise, what is the need for bringing out a criminal from jail?”
Nevertheless the general secretary of the CPI(ML) Liberation, Dipankar Bhattacharya, partner of the ruling Mahagathbandhan alleged that the policy of release of prisoners must be fair and transparent. He demanded that all the TADA14 inmates should also be released. Release all the oppressed poor people who have been locked up unfairly under the prohibition act. He sought to know; “Why this selective release of prisoners in Bihar? While 27 prisoners who have completed 14+ years are being released, six rural poor activists from Arwal – Comrades Jagdish Yadav, Churaman Bhagat, Arvind Chaudhary, Ajit Sau, Laxman Sau, Shyam Chaudhary – who have been in jail for 22+ years are left out!”
Dipankar also said; “They are the surviving members of the fourteen comrades who were convicted under TADA in 2003 in a blatant travesty of justice. Six of these TADA14 prisoners – Comrades Shah Chand, Madan Singh, Sohrai Chaudhary, Baleshwar Chaudhary, Mahangu Chaudhary, and Madhav Chaudhary – have already died in prison.”Only one of the TADA14 comrades, Comrade Tribhuvan Sharma was released by the High Court in 2020. Three years have elapsed since then, one more TADA inmate passed away in jail, and now this selective release of prisoners has inflicted more injustice on these victims who have already spent more than two decades of their lives in the jails of Bihar.
Meanwhile the CPI(ML) legislators would be holding a day long dharna on April 28 before the residence of the chief minister seeking the release of the TADA prisoners. Actually they were jailed for fighting against the landlords who had launched repression on the landless agriculture labourers and Dalits in eighties.
From electoral point of view, this action of Nitish has come as a major setback for the BJP which has been seriously contemplating to forge a fresh alignment of upper caste and smaller political parties. In the beginning of April, during his visit to Bihar, Amit Shah had dropped the hint that he was seriously working on the plan to evolve some new coalition. But even before Shah’s move could acquire a concrete shape, it has been torpedoed by Nitish by releasing Anand.
On his part expressing his gratitude to Nitish, gangster Anand Mohan said “All these years, others have been mere spectators. The sufferers have been my wife Lovely and the family members of G Krishnaiah,” Singh told reporters. “I wonder if those who are making noise over my release from jail, have ever cared to wipe the tears of the family members of the slain IAS officer.”
Crestfallen BJP leaders have been using all kind of jibes and vitriolic against Nitish. They have been targeting Nitish for ‘leaning on a criminal syndicate’. A tweet by a national leader reads; “Shame on Nitish Kumar for capitulating to RJD’s sinister machinations. Bihar government had surreptitiously removed the “murderer of a government servant on duty” category of prisoners by amending the Bihar Prison Manual, 2012, paving the way for release of don-turned-RJD politician Anand Mohan, who was serving life term for murder of G Krishnaiah, a Dalit IAS officer. Can someone who is leaning on a criminal syndicate, to hold on to power, be the face of India, even as opposition leader? Corruption, crime and bid to defend their shrinking political turf is the glue for India’s opposition, from Mamata Banerjee to Nitish Kumar, Kejriwal to KCR…”
In a retort the JD(U) spokesperson said; “In Nitish Kumar government, there is no difference between ‘aam’ (commoner) and ‘khas’ (special). Anand Mohan has served his full sentence and has got remission which he was not getting due to a clause, which was meant for certain class of prisoners. That distinction has been removed and the BJP people have developed stomach ache, as they believe in protecting own people and implicating opposition. Nitish Kumar neither implicates anyone nor protects anyone”.
Anand Mohan was one of the co-founders of the Samata Party along with Nitish, and continues to be counted as one of the most prominent politicians, with sizeable clout among voters. In fact Anand threw a challenge to the critics of Nitish Kumar, mainly to the BJP leaders,” by declaring prisoners serving long prison sentences can be released and the same has happened with me. Those who are questioning the decision to release me can go to court. Those opposing it are disrespecting the rule of law”. (IPA Service)