The alleged involvement of notorious criminal-politician of Bihar Mohammad Shahabuddin in a journalist murder case took another turn on Friday in the Supreme Court as Tej Pratap, Bihar Health Minister and RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s son, made an appeal to cancel the bail the mafia don got from the Patna High Court.
The apex court asked Tej Pratap to explain how an alleged shooter wanted in the murder of a journalist in the state was seen with him in certain photographs.
“Those who hold positions in party and executive do not think for a second before attaching themselves to such anti-social elements and even render assistance,” the Supreme Court said while issuing the notices to the minister as well as Mohammad Shahabuddin, a former lawmaker, recently released from prison.
The notice came on a petition by slain journalist Rajdeo Ranjan’s wife seeking that the trial in her husband’s murder case be shifted to Delhi as she feared for her family’s life.
The Supreme Court also ordered the local police in Siwan, where Ms. Ranjan lives, to provide protection to the journalist’s family. It has also sought a status report from the CBI, which was asked to take over the investigation in the case earlier this month.
Mohammad Kaif, the suspected shooter whose photographs with Tej Pratap appeared in the social media had already surrendered. He was allegedly spotted in photos and video footage with Mohammad Shahabuddin, serving two life sentences for murder.
The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) is part of Bihar’s ruling coalition led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Opposition BJP is mounting an attack on the coalition government on the ground of returning the ‘jungle raj’ in the state.
Earlier Tej Pratap rebuked allegations of his links with shooter Mohammad Kaif, calling it a BJP conspiracy. ” How would I know who is a shooter from the thousands of people who click photos with me?” he had countered.
His brother and Bihar’s Deputy Chief Minister Tejaswi Yadav, on his part, had earlier tweeted photos and news reports that show BJP leaders with Mohammad Kaif and another alleged criminal called Iqbal Sheikh.
The murder took the state by shock while Shahabuddin was already undergoing two life sentences for another set of murders. At this juncture, his bail granted by the High Court has raised many eyebrows. It has been also alleged that Lalu Prasad was ‘influential’ in getting bail for his party strong man.
Noted criminal lawyer and former law minister Ram Jethmalani is reportedly slated to appear for Shahabuddin on September 26 when the case would resume for further proceedings.
The apex bench of Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Justice Amitava Rai also issued notices on another plea by Chandrakeshwar Prasad whose three sons were allegedly killed by the henchmen of Shahabuddin.
Prasad has also challenged the bail granted to the convict by the high court.
Shahabuddin was quoted by media reports as saying that “I am a law-abiding citizen and respect the court order. Earlier, I was sent to jail by the court and ten days ago I was released from jail after the court granted me bail. It is all for the court to decide”.
The BJP has appealed to Jethmalani, who was earlier a member of parliament of that party, not to defend Shahabuddin in the top court.