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Tailed MP dodges arrest

Patna, Aug. 2: Controversial MP Mohammad Shahabuddin, who was returning to Siwan by train from Delhi, today dodged arrest by a Special Task Force team waiting for him at the station by alighting suddenly at Gorakhpur in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh.

The path for the arrest of the Rashtriya Janata Dal parliamentarian, who has around 36 criminal cases pending against him, was cleared by court today when it refused to stay an arrest warrant against him and dismissed an anticipatory bail plea filed by a lawyer.

Bihar director-general of police D.P. Ojha has tightened the screw on Shahabuddin by proceeding on an arrest warrant issued in 2000 in the case of the abduction and murder of CPI-ML activist Munna Chowdhury.

Dismissing the petition for the anticipatory bail and a stay on the arrest warrant, Siwan district and sessions judge Abhijit Sinha sought to inspect the Munna Chowdhury case diary. As the police could not produce it today, the hearing has been deferred till August 7.

As Ojha’s attempts to put the MP in the dock rocked the RJD, a delegation of BJP MLAs met governor M. Rama Jois and asked him to get the cases against Shahabuddin shifted to the CBI for a thorough probe. The delegate apprised Jois of the reign of terror unleashed in Siwan and mentioned several incidents of the killing of political opponents there.

The BJP claimed that at least eight people, including the son of party district unit president Ramakant Pathak, had been killed. The CPI-ML (Liberation), which did not join the delegation to the governor, estimates that at least 15 key leaders were butchered in the last couple of years.

When the judge read out his order, Shahabuddin was already on the train. But news somehow reached him and he kept the police team and hordes of supporters waiting at Siwan station while he quietly disembarked at Gorakhpur.

Shahabuddin has kept everyone guessing about his next move, but some reports said he was proceeding to Siwan by car. Sources close to him said he would take his own time to decide when to surrender in court. The MP is learnt to have told loyalists that he would address a mammoth rally before surrendering, but didn’t mention a date.

Though Shahabuddin’s most vocal supporters remained low-key, he is supposed to have threatened, in a statement circulated among his aides, that if the RJD thought he was alone, it was mistaken because he had mustered the backing of 100 MLAs.

The BJP is keen to pre-empt any attempt by the ruling party to coerce the DGP and is belie-ved to have geared up to press-ure the Rabri Devi government to take Ojha’s move to a logical conclusion.

“It is ultimately an issue involving the rule of law in the state. The DGP’s initiative to force an MP with 36 criminal cases against him to submit before law and make him face trial needs to be backed by parties of all hues,” said BJP Opposition leader in the Assembly, Sushil Kumar Modi.

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