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Nitish ‘silently’ paving way for jailed ex-MP & strongman Anand Mohan’s return? Change in jail manual spurs row

Patna: The Nitish Kumar-led government in Bihar has “silently” paved the way for the release of former MP Anand Mohan Singh, who has been serving life imprisonment for the murder of a public servant in 1994.

On 10 April, the government notified an amendment to the Bihar Prison Manual that related to the deletion of the clause which specified that those killing government officials were not entitled to release for “good behaviour”. 

The state home department issued a notification stating that Bihar Prison Manual, 2012, Rule 481 (1) a, the mentioned phrase “or, the murder of a public servant will be removed.”  

The amendment, however, drew a sharp response from former IPS officer Amitabh Das, who alleged that the move was specifically designed to aid Singh, who was convicted for the murder of IAS officer G. Krishnaiah in 1994. Krishnaiah, then the Gopalganj district magistrate was lynched by a mob, allegedly incited by the politician, on the outskirts of Muzaffarpur.

“The state government has changed the law to help a murderer. The Dalit IAS officer Krishnaiah was lynched while he was on duty and proceeding to Hajipur from Gopalganj on December 5, 1994,” Das told ThePrint. 

He added that he Saturday wrote a letter to Bihar governor Rajendra Arlekar urging him to intervene as the amendment “would demoralise government employees in Bihar.” 

Singh is currently on parole for the engagement of his son and Rashtriya Janata Dal MLA Chetan Anand. He has been out on parole twice, the second time being for the marriage of his daughter last year.

Incidentally, after the formation of the Mahagathbandhan government in August last year, there have been repeated efforts to get Singh out of jail. The pressure could well be gauged from the fact that in the assembly last year, senior Janata Dal (United) minister Bijendra Yadav speaking about the release had cited the same clause that prevents “those who killed government employees on duty for a pre-release from jail on grounds of  good behaviour.”

According to JD(U) sources, bringing Singh out of jail would help both the JD(U) and the TJD pacify a ‘powerful’ caste and even use Singh’s oratory skills against the BJP at a national level. Before going to jail, Singh had an image as a leader of the Kshatriya Samaj. 

Considering the fact that the Rajputs, according to the caste census in the 1930s, accounted for 4 per cent of the upper-caste votes, the parties aim to cash in on Singh’s influence to fight the BJP.

The move could be all the more significant considering after 2014, like other upper castes, Rajputs have largely swung their loyalty to the BJP, and have remained so even after Nitish left the NDA in August last year.

“Anand Mohan has his qualities, he was a great orator and knows Bihar. He is a great reader and has written books from jail,” said former MLA Akhlaq Ahmad, who was a co-accused in the Krishnaiah murder case, but was later acquitted.  

Speaking to ThePrint, Ahmad said: “In the early 1990s we were opposing the caste politics unleashed by Lalu and fighting against the destruction of Bihar. There was great anger against the government among the people. Then, it was Singh, an upper-caste face, who was a major force against the anti-Lalu fight.”

Also Read: How to beat JD(U)-RJD caste maths? BJP to focus on EBCs & Mahadalits, hunt for ‘vibrant’ leader

Who is Anand Mohan Singh?

Born in a family of freedom fighters in the Saharsa district, Singh was at the forefront of the upper caste resistance against the “rising power of the backward castes”. 

Though he started his political journey with the JP movement, till 1990 there were several cases including murder, kidnapping and ransom, registered against him across Kosi area. 

In the 1990 assembly elections, Singh won from Mahishi assembly seat on the ticket of late former PM Chandra Shekhar. The same year, Pappu Yadav won as an Independent from the Siddheshwar assembly seat, swearing loyalty to Lalu Prasad. 

With the victory of Singh, an upper caste face, and Pappu Yadav as the face of the lower caste, the early 90s saw several caste-based clashes in Bihar’s Kosi, Saharsa, Purnea, Supaul, Madhepura regions.

From 1990-1995, Singh’s stance against Lalu Prasad after setting up his own political outfit, Bihar People’s Party, was an aggressive one. His moment of triumph came in the Vaishali Lok Sabha bypoll when his wife Lovely Anand defeated the RJD candidate. 

It was the first time an anti-Lalu-force had joined hands and proved that even Lalu could be defeated. In his public speeches, Singh used to hit out at Lalu and even threaten him publicly. He was a rabble-rouser and a skillful orator who gained huge popularity, especially among the upper-caste youth. 

“My first goal is to capture the youth,” he had then told this correspondent.

However, after the defeat in the 1995 assembly polls, there were political flip-flops.

In 1996, Singh joined the Samata Party and won from the Sheohar Lok Sabha constituency. He won again in 1999, but this time with Lalu’s backing. This reporter was witness to Lalu showing off Singh at his residence when he joined hands with him. “Remember what you wrote about him?” Lalu asked reporters, mocking them, referring to reports of Singh being against him. Singh’s victory, though, was short-lived.

In 2008, Patna High Court first announced the death penalty against Singh for the murder of Krishnaiah, but after an appeal, the verdict was converted to life imprisonment by the Supreme Court the same year. The six other co-accused in the case were acquitted for want of evidence, though appeals of Singh against the trial court order were set aside by the high court as well as the Supreme Court.

(Edited by Richa Mishra)

Also Read: Why Nitish Kumar is Congress’ best bet for 2024 elections, despite a predictable outcome

Source: The Print

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