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Shahabuddin gives in after power show

Siwan, Aug. 13: Controversial MP Mohammad Shahabuddin, who was dodging arrest for over a week, today surrendered in court here after an elaborate show of strength and was remanded in two weeks’ judicial custody.

Since morning, crowds started gathering near his Pratappur house. Around 9 am, he held a meeting with his confidants and then prayed for some time. Ten minutes later he came out in denim trousers and a green-and-pink striped shirt and got into a silver Scorpio. All the while the crowd continued to swell and finally he started at the head of a cavalcade of 400 vehicles and around 250 two-wheelers.

Even as he started for the court in a cloudy morning, people continued pouring into the streets leading to Kachhari More, where the court is located. When he reached JP Chowk, where a JNU student leader was killed in 1997, a crowd of about 20,000 people gave him a rousing welcome.

Among them were ministers in the Rabri Devi government like Indradeo Prasad and Ejazul Haque, who joined shouting slogans like: “Shahabuddin mat ghabrana, tere sath hai sara zamana (Shahabuddin don’t worry, you have the backing of the world).” All along the route, not a single policeman was seen.

“Look at the show, this is no less impressive than the one that followed Laloo Yadav during his surrender in the Ranchi court in November 2001,” said a minister. Addressing the crowd, Shahabuddin attacked his party chief Laloo Prasad Yadav without naming him, saying that if any political group was against him, its condition would be pitiable.

But the bravado and the Rayban shades could not hide his tension, betrayed by creased brows. Accompanied by 12 advocates, he finally gave himself up at the court before Siwan chief judicial magistrate Sushil Kumar Sinha around 10.30 am.

The advocates said the “honourable MP” was surrendering in connection with four cases, including the one involving the alleged abduction and murder of CPI(M-L) activist Munna Chowdhary. Led by Ist Deo Tiwari, they pleaded that the cases were old and the MP’s name was being dragged in as an afterthought by the police. However, the MP decided to submit himself as he was a law-abiding citizen. They did not appeal for bail.

Over 10,000 people kept shouting slogans against director-general of police D.P. Ojha on the court compound, braving intermittent showers. Shahabuddin has been targeting Ojha after he gave the go-ahead to execute an arrest warrant pending against him since 2001.

After the court order, the MP held a press conference in a room adjacent to the courtroom. “I live like a lion, whether it is inside the jail or outside,” he said. Shahabuddin again directed his barbs at Ojha, calling him “politically ambitious”. “He has got a political agenda under his sleeve,” the MP said and called upon the state to probe his links.

In his private and public life, the MP flaunts his fascination with the likes of Osama bin Laden. His son is named Osama and he has said if the child his wife is expecting is a boy, he would be called Mullah Omar, after the head of the former Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

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