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Soren sent to principal ‘cell’

Jamtara, Aug. 2: The biggest political cat-and-mouse game in recent times formally ended today with a court sending former Union minister Shibu Soren to judicial custody after he turned himself in.

Denied bail and remanded till August 13, Soren was moved to a makeshift jail here, the office chamber of the Jamtara Women’s College principal, under heavy security. He is expected to be moved to the Hazaribagh central jail.

The fast-track court judge, U.. Mishra, however, allowed Soren two attendants after his lawyers pleaded that he was not well.

The former minister earlier surrendered as directed by Jharkhand High Court last week. He was wanted for trial in a case of mob violence in which 10 people were killed in 1975 at Chirudih, 25 km from here. Soren was accused of jumping bail and abstaining from court since 1986.

The court compound resembled a fortress as security personnel and the Rapid Action Force (RAF) took up position. Hundreds of restive JMM workers had assembled in the court and intermittently shouted slogans against the BJP and Jharkhand chief minister, Arjun Munda.

Apprehending trouble, authorities mounted a public address system and requested Shibu Soren’s son, Durga Soren, to address and pacify the crowd. The former minister’s son announced that his father’s bail application had been rejected but requested the crowd to disperse peacefully.

Shouts of “jail ka darwaza tootega, Shibu Soren chootega” (prison walls will not be able to hold back Shibu Soren) rent the air, accompanied by beats of drums.

Adding to the courtroom drama, police teams from Giridih and Jamshedpur produced warrants against Soren and requested his custody. They said Soren was wanted for trial in cases in the two districts but the court turned down their plea.

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