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When the long arm falls short

- Power of politics keeps police off crime pursuit

UP police found minister Azam Khan’s missing buffaloes in much less time than what their Jharkhand counterpart would perhaps take to lodge a complaint in a high-profile criminal case.

The state capital’s men in uniform are, currently, investigating three headliner crimes. One involves Sunil Sahay, the younger brother of Congress heavyweight and Ranchi MP Subodh Kant Sahay; another has the Singhania cracker barons in the lead; and the last but not the least revolves around the bahu of Jharkhand’s first family, JMM MLA Sita Soren.

Sahay Junior is facing an arrest warrant in a cash-for-vote case after police and income tax officers seized over Rs 20 lakh from a city hotel a day before the mayoral polls in Ranchi in April last year.

It has been alleged that the said amount was meant to influence voting in favour of incumbent Rama Khalkho whom the Ranchi MP had inducted into his party. Police arrested local Congress leader Niranjan Sharma and his employee Sudhir Sahu in the case. They were later granted bail by Supreme Court. Khalkho, the key accused, surrendered after the court issued an attachment of property order. She too is out on bail.

The arrest warrant against Sunil was issued in December last year. But, so far, police have failed to even “trace” him, let alone execute the warrant, though he has been seen in public places off and on. Sunil’s clout as the younger brother of a Congress heavyweight and also the fact that the party is in power probably stop police from launching an earnest pursuit.

Singhania brothers Kamal, Vimal and Jai Kumar are once again classic examples of how the powerful can give a hoot to the law. The trio run firecracker business in Jharkhand and are known to hobnob with top JMM leaders.

On October 25 last year, the Singhanias had attacked a team of five IT officers led by assistant commissioner Vidyacharan Kishore during a search at their outlet, Trade Friends in Upper Bazar, over a Rs 1-crore stash and unaccounted investments tip-off. The three brothers kept the IT officers confined for half an hour before the law intervened. The Singhanias went into hiding, while police took more than 10 hours to lodge an FIR against them.

“We are conducting raids at different locations whenever we get information about the Singhania brothers. The police are not relaxing. In the cash-for-vote case, investigation is going on and person/s concerned will be arrested,” Ranchi SSP Bhimsen Tuti told The Telegraph on Tuesday.

And what about the Sita Soren case? “Probe is on,” Tuti kept it brief.

On December 24, 2012, the widow of JMM chief Shibu Soren’s eldest son Durga had allegedly abducted her private aide Vikas Pandey — a CBI witness against her in the Rajya Sabha cash stash case — with the help of her two bodyguards.

Sita kept Pandey confined for hours at her Dhurwa residence. A team from Argora, Dhurwa and Jagannathpur police stations rescued him in the presence of mediapersons. He had been beaten black and blue, and accused Sita of threatening him with dire consequences if he did not withdraw as witness. Reportedly under political pressure, police gave Sita the long rope and she secured interim bail from Supreme Court in May last year.

Hearing the matter this January, the Jharkhand High Court bench of Justice D.N. Upadhyay asked police why an FIR was not lodged against other co-accused, including Sita’s father B.N. Manjhi. Despite being reprimanded by the court, the force is still waiting prosecution orders from Assembly Speaker Shashank Shekhar Bhokta to file a chargesheet.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Pandey’s lawyer Rajiv Kumar said: “The court asked under what circumstances was Sita alone made the accused in the case when my client’s statement recorded under Section 164 of the CrPC clearly mentioned that he was beaten up by Manjhi, Sita besides Soren’s guards and servants. Police are protecting the high-profile.”

When confronted, SSP Tuti reiterated: “I am not aware of the court’s remarks. In this case, the Speaker has sought probe on certain points and the same is on.”

Yet another case against political big wigs is slipping into oblivion.

On June 21 last year, supporters of Jharkhand Youth Congress president Anup Singh, son of health minister Rajendra Prasad Singh, and Dhanbad MLA Mannan Mallik opened fire on each other at Swami Shradhanand Road. FIRs were lodged, but police are now closing the case “for want of evidence”.