The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Breathe easy till law rules

Siwan, Feb. 18: Siwan is breathing, free and easy, after a long time.

Not just because the sultan, whose writ is law here, has been taken away to Patna. But more so since the brand new administration ' the district magistrate and the superintendent of police to be exact ' is doing its job like a dream, thanks to a determined Election Commission.

People realise that the heaven of today could well be a chimera, as shortlived as the elections that end later in the month. But even a hint of freedom is hugely welcome. Secrecy of ballot, they assert, is a great leveller, capable of making paupers out of kings and inflicting huge psychological blows.

Too many developments have taken place in too little time. Rashtriya Janata Dal MP Mohammad Shahabuddin, behind bars on murder charges, has been made to cool his heels in Patna's Beur Central Jail. His supporters are on the run and forced to lie low till the elections are over.

Top guns like Janata Dal (United) MP Prabhunath Singh and RJD leader Jitendra Swami have been debarred from entering the district. The police are conducting raid after raid ' seizing weapons, rounding up habitual trouble-mongers, busting liquor dens and building electors' confidence.

Swami perhaps did not read the message right and moved out with a lot of weapons and faithfuls on Wednesday night. Pinned down by the special task force, his men opened fire on the policemen. Swami, whose father Umashankar Singh is the RJD's nominee from Maharajganj, is regretting his bravado.

Witnesses said Swami got the beating of his life in full public view. Police said they had to take on the 'gang' because it was necessary for self-defence.

A thoroughly injured Swami said the STF was 'biased' and so was police superintendent Ratan Sanjay, whom he charged even with taking financial favours. The young IPS officer laughed it off and said, 'I am doing my work and will complete it.'

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