| Munna Shukla |
Muzaffarpur, Oct. 31: A massive search operation was launched at Shaheed Khudiram Bose Central jail this evening, following the allegations against former JD(U) MLA Vijay Kumar Shukla, an inmate at the prison, of making extortion calls of Rs 2 crore from an engineering college director.
Vijay, alias Munna Shukla, is cooling his heels at the central jail with a life term after conviction in the murder case of minister Brij Bihari Prasad. He has been recently accused of demanding Rs 2 crore as extortion money for the November 4 Adhikar Rally of the JD(U) in Patna from Sant Lal Yadav, the director (HR) of Patna Sahib Group of Colleges at Bhagwanpur in Vaishali district.
Senior officials of the prison department in Patna said a team led by Muzaffarpur district magistrate (DM) Santosh Kumar Mall and senior superintendent of police (SSP) Rajesh Kumar searched all the prisoners’ wards at the central jail this evening. The search was on till the time of filing this report.
A member of the raiding team, who did not want to be named, said: “Despite the raid and seizure of cellphones from the prison a few days ago, some inmates were still making extortion calls from their cells.”
On October 28, during another raid, a cellphone, a charger and an earphone were recovered from the prisoners’ ward. Verification of the seized cellphone revealed that Shukla had used 47 SIM cards to make phone calls for 130 hours in a month. Surprisingly, the SIM cards could not be recovered.
“We are verifying the call details of the numbers to solve extortion and other allegations against Shukla,” said Mithanpura police station house Satyedev Prasad Singh.
Additional director-general of police (Tirhut zone) Gupteshwar Pandey told The Telegraph that the case would be solved within a week. “We have formed a special team to crack the case. The offenders will not be spared. Substantial evidence is being gathered to prosecute the offender.”
Sources said the police are also trying to find out the people who have been working as aides of the incarcerated politician. Inspector-general (prisons) Anand Kishore did not rule out the involvement of prison employees. “A few personnel are already under the scanner of the department and they would have to face the music,” he said.
DM Santosh Kumar Mall has ordered a complete shuffling of security persons at the jail. Acting jail superintendent Ajay Kumar has issued necessary orders to shift wardens, constables and watchmen. Sources said the entire team of prison staff could be transferred. “At least 15 prison employees were quizzed,” said an officer of the investigating team. He added: “Proximity of prison employees to influential inmates is an open secret.”
SSP Rajesh Kumar said: “I have asked the SHO of Mithanpura police station to get the names of the persons to whom the SIM cards were issued. We would also investigate the 15 jail officials who allegedly helped Shukla carry out his extortion threats.”
Vaishali superintendent of police Upendra Sinha said Shukla could also be interrogated.
Sources said the Muzaffarpur DM had in March this year recommended shifting of Shukla from Muzaffarpur either to Buxar or Bhagalpur central jail in view of his involvement in illegal activities.
The former MLA was charged with keeping a laptop in his possession and chatting with his friends on a social networking site. Shukla, however, refuted the charge and said that he was falsely being implicated.
Jailer Samuel Mitra said: “The security has been tightened at the jail and we have begun to physically search each and every visitor.”