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Scurry to repair image
- CM agrees to CBI probe into Mukhiya murder to restore confidence in govt & silence critics

Patna, June 6: Nitish Kumar, facing one of the biggest challenges of his otherwise relatively smooth seven-year-reign, today recommended a CBI probe into the killing of Brahmeshwar Singh “Mukhiya”, succumbing to the demand from ally BJP and the Opposition.

“I have asked the officials to complete all related formalities involved so that the central agency can take up the case as soon as possible,” Nitish said, reacting for the first time since the Friday murder of the Ranvir Sena chief and the orgy of violence that Brahmeshwar’s supporters unleashed, sullying the chief minister’s much vaunted image of susashan (good governance).

Sources close to Nitish said he was cut up with the “intelligence failure” that prevented director-general of police (DGP) Abhayanand from assessing the nature and quantum of the crowd that invaded Patna and touched off a wave of destruction during the funeral procession on Saturday.

State BJP chief C.P. Thakur has patted Abhayanand for maintaining “restraint” and the DGP too has said he had asked the forces to maintain restraint to “avoid caste war” across the state. But Nitish, under fire from the Opposition for allowing lawless elements to hold the city to ransom on Saturday, did not defend the police action.

“The chief minister is hardly known for his knee-jerk reaction. But he has taken the lawlessness very seriously. He will evolve his own ways to deal with the administrative and police officials who have failed him,” the source said. “After all,” the source maintained, “Nitish has worked assiduously over the years to restore rule of law in the state. He will work in his own way to identify the officials as well as the elements who have dented his government’s good image with one strike.”

The decision to hand over the case to the CBI preceded a meeting Nitish had with senior officials, including Abhayanand. Besides the DGP, chief secretary Navin Kumar and principal secretary, home, Amir Subhani were present.

“Abhayanand had met the family members of the deceased and had also constituted a special investigation team under his stewardship to probe the murder. The SIT was engaged in carrying out the investigation in a scientific manner. But then came a demand for CBI inquiry. The family members of the deceased too demanded a CBI probe, following which the government decided to hand it over to the agency,” Nitish said.

The chief minister said the DGP would contact the CBI director to ensure speedy investigation.

The decision to hand over the case to the CBI was taken ahead of Nitish’s meeting with Governor Devanand Konwar.

Officials at the chief minister’s office described the meeting as a “courtesy call” and stressed that it had nothing to do with the law and order situation.

Konwar has appreciated the government's decision to hand over the case to the CBI, an official communiqué said.

The decision has also blunted the Opposition attack. RJD chief Lalu Prasad made a feeble attempt to keep up the assault. “Nitish should have taken the decision much earlier. He should also make the points of reference for the CBI probe clear,” Lalu said.

Nitish has also cancelled his Seva Yatra in Bhojpur district scheduled from tomorrow.