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For Dal toehold, crime pays
Kidnap brain in Nitish party

Patna, Dec. 2: Mera Kislay kahan hai (Where is my Kislay — a schoolboy whose abduction had sent shockwaves through the state)?” former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had famously asked while addressing a public meeting in Patna ahead of the February 2005 Assembly elections in Bihar.

Eight years down the line, Rakesh Kumar alias Chunnu Thakur, the prime accused in the kidnapping of Kislay Kaushal, the son of then assistant commissioner of commercial taxes, K.K. Gupta, has become a member of the ruling Janata Dal (United).

Thakur, who faces over 20 cases of kidnapping, murder and extortion in Muzaffarpur and its adjoining areas, joined the JD(U) at the party’s office in Patna on Sunday. He is the latest in a string of new entrants with criminal records to the party.

Chief minister Nitish Kumar brushed aside suggestions that the JD(U) was going the RJD way — Lalu Prasad, now jailed in the fodder scam, had been accused of sheltering criminals in his party when it ruled the state. “Many types of people join political parties. But there is a law that would take its own course against individual offences,” Nitish said today.

Soon after getting membership of the party, Thakur said: “I am deeply influenced by the able leadership of Nitish Kumar. Nitish’s personality has impressed me enough to join politics and his party.”

Thakur, who has been accused of extorting the staff of Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar Bihar University in Muzaffarpur, joined the JD(U) within a fortnight of the entry of another don-turned-politician, Shah Alam Shabbu. Shabbu had unsuccessfully contested the 2010 Assembly elections on Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party’s symbol from Kudhani constituency in Muzaffarpur. Police records show Shabbu as being part of a land mafia.

Babloo Dev, a dreaded gangster of the Champaran region, joined Nitish’s party last week. He was earlier elected as MLA from Kesaria on an RJD ticket. He is also facing charges of murder, kidnapping and extortion.

Thakur, in his early forties, has, of late, been charged with running a vehicle-lifters’ gang. Thakur shot to notoriety after his name figured in the kidnapping of Kislay from the Patel Nagar locality of Patna on January 19, 2005. Kislay, then 14, was a Class IX student of Delhi Public School.

Thakur’s wife Kiran was picked up from her Gunnipur (Muzaffarpur) residence for interrogation. Police investigation revealed that the plan was chalked out in the Hajipur divisional jail where Thakur was lodged in another case. His close aide Vicky Thakur was assigned the task of kidnapping the boy.

The abductors decided to release Kislay after about a fortnight following the arrest of three captors, including Vicky, from Saket in Delhi. Then Patna senior superintendent of police Nayyar Hasnain Khan had charged Thakur with plotting the kidnapping of Kislay.

The high profile kidnapping had drawn widespread media attention and was seen as a huge setback for the Lalu Prasad-Rabri Devi regime, which was battling accusations of promoting jungle raj in Bihar. Then President APJ Abdul Kalam expressed concern over the incident. Vajpayee, during his visit to Patna for a rally on January 27, 2005, had blasted the RJD regime for failing to secure its citizens.

The case is pending for trial in the court.

Grapevine has it that all three bahubalis (influential persons having criminal background) — Thakur, Shabbu and Babloo — joined the JD(U) after it snapped ties with former ally — the BJP in June.

Former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi alleged that Nitish was going soft on criminals. “The party has given shelter to such elements,” he said.

Thakur, however, defended himself and also the JD(U). “I am being dragged into a controversy for political reasons. The cases are pending in the court,” he said.

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