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Campaign for bhai, cuffs for bhaiyya

Bokaro/Ranchi, March 25: Younger brother canvasses for votes in Jaridih as a common UPA candidate for Giridih Lok Sabha seat, elder one goes behind bars in Nawadih 30km away. All part of a day’s work in Bermo subdivision, Bokaro, today.

A day after state chief electoral officer P.K. Jajoria asked police to probe into the alleged involvement of JMM’s Dumri MLA Jagannath Mahto and Congress-backed JMM nominee from Giridih parliamentary seat in the kangaroo court murder of Nawadih youth Santosh Pandey, Bokaro police today arrested the MLA’s brother Baidyanath.

North Chotanagpur IG Laxman Singh said: “The MLA’s elder brother Baidyanath Mahto has been arrested by the police. Police probe into the MLA’s role is on.”

Insiders say what the police are claiming credit for is actually a botched-up surrender attempt on Baidyanath’s part.

More importantly, Jagannath Mahto, who figures on the FIR (55/14) among the nine accused based on the statement of Santosh’s brother and others, is roaming free.

The FIR with Nawadih police indicts Baidyanath and Jagannath for being “personally present” during the kangaroo court on March 20 that decreed Santosh be beaten up mercilessly for “polluting” Alargo village in Nawadih block by falling in love with a 21-year-old girl, a fellow villager. Santosh died within hours.

Despite widespread outrage over the kangaroo court diktat, JMM scion and chief minister Hemant Soren dug in his heels and contradicted the FIR, saying the MLA-cum-Giridih MP hopeful was in Bokaro, not Nawadih, that day.

After the EC prod, police bosses have now instructed their Bokaro district counterparts to find out Jagannath’s cellphone details on March 20 to locate his whereabouts.

“I got a complaint from former energy minister Lalchand Mahto who alleged police did not take action against Jagannath Mahto, as he is an MLA of the ruling alliance and is contesting Lok Sabha polls. An FIR was lodged against him on March 20 night, but he filed his nomination papers (for Giridih) in Bokaro a day after,” Jajoria quoted Lalchand Mahto.

Jajoria added he forwarded the matter to Jharkhand DGP Rajeev Kumar.

In response, state police spokesperson Anurag Gupta and an IG-rank officer said: “A special investigation team (SIT) has been formed under Bermo subdivisional police officer and city deputy superintendent of police to probe into the matter.”

He added the police had video footage where Santosh, before dying, alleged Baidyanath and others beat him up. He did not mention Jagannath.

The footage shows the youth recalling his fiancée insisted they go to Chennai.

They got married in Chennai, but were brought back home by the girl’s parents on March 20 on the ruse of hosting a wedding reception. Then, they were tried by the kangaroo court.

On the FIR indicting the MLA-cum-MP hopeful, a policeman said it was “only a piece of document”. “I am not choosing sides. But as the matter involves a politician, opponents would be behind him. The job of the police is to investigate and prove if the MLA was physically present at the spot when the youth was being beaten up,” he said.

Four other persons also named in the FIR — Jitendra Puri, Kailash Puri, Suraj Puri and Meghlal Puri — also surrendered in the court of first-class judicial magistrate S.K. Dubey in Tenughat (Bokaro).

Baidyanath was also taken to Dubey’s court. He and the Puri quartet were sent to Tenughat jail, 48km from Bokaro steel city, bringing the number of those arrested to seven. Nemi Puri and Ganesh Puri were arrested earlier by Nawadih police. Among the nine named in the FIR, the MLA and one Kewal Mahto, have not been arrested so far.

Other leading contenders from Giridih are BJP sitting MP Ravinder Pandey, JVM’s Saba Ahmed and JD(U)’s Jaleshwar Mahto.


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