| Anant Singh after his arrest. Picture by Deepak Kumar
Patna, Nov. 1: A Bihar MLA was arrested today for assaulting reporters who had sought his reaction to the allegation that he may have had a hand in the murder of a woman found dead near his official residence.
Police yesterday found the body near the Mall Road residence of Janata Dal (United) MLA Anant Singh, whose name spells terror in the area.
The first-time legislator, who has snakes and horses as pets at his official residence, faces a dozen cases of murder, rape, armed raids and other crimes.
The arrest came weeks after chief minister Nitish Kumar received a letter from a woman called Reshma who accused Singh of repeatedly raping her at the Mall Road house. Her brother Munna wrote another letter a few days ago to the Dal(U) leader, alleging that the legislator had told him that he had killed Reshma and dumped her body.
Senior police officers wouldn’t comment on the allegation but sources said the needle of suspicion pointed at Singh, though the dead woman’s identity was yet to be established.
Neither Reshma nor Munna had in their letters mentioned their addresses.
Nitish, whose government is trying to improve crime-racked Bihar’s image, has ordered a CBI probe. “I want justice and the truth to come out in the case,” the chief minister said.
But no one in the government or the administration was willing to explain why no action was taken after the brother-sister duo pleaded for help. Deputy inspector-general of police (Patna range) Sunil Kumar merely said: “Patna senior SP Kundan Krishnan has been investigating the case.”
The Opposition has called a 12-hour Bihar bandh tomorrow. Former chief minister Rabri Devi, whose RJD regime earned the sobriquet “jungle raj”, described the Nitish era as the “real jungle raj”.
In Reshma’s undated letter (written in Hindi), she said: “One Mukesh Singh took me to Anant Singh’s house on October 10 on the pretext of giving me a job. Singh, who was exercising, instantly forced me on his bed and raped me repeatedly asking me how much money I needed for the act. The MLA later got me picked up several times and raped me.”
Reshma had appealed to the chief minister for help and sent copies of her letter to the Bihar DGP, IG, Patna, and several other top officials.
A few days later, Munna wrote another letter to Nitish — copies were sent to the DGP, the chief justice of Patna High Court and newspapers — saying Mukesh, a builder and Singh’s friend, took his sister to the MLA’s house on October 27.
“I phoned Anant Singh after waiting for my sister for a couple of days. Anant Singh told me that he had killed Reshma and had thrown her body nearby,” the letter said.
Munna quoted the MLA as telling him: “I will kill you, too, if you speak about the issue. Nitish Kumar is in my pocket. Even the Patna SP touches my feet. Stay silent.”
Confronted with the charges today by the reporter of a TV channel, the MLA whipped out his gun and began beating him and the cameraman with its butt. His henchmen closed the doors of the house and kept the journalists hostage for close to two hours.