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‘Stamp-sized acquaintance’

Ranchi, Aug. 31: Former Chatra MP and the first Speaker of Jharkhand Assembly, Inder Singh Namdhari, today invoked literary analogy to describe the brevity of his acquaintance with faith crime suspect Ranjit Singh Kohli, alias Rakibul Hassan, the husband of national-level shooter Tara Shahdeo.

Namdhari, whom Kohli had called “like a guardian” in his statement to Ranchi police, attended the marriage ceremony of Kohli and Tara in the state capital on July 7. The former Speaker had apparently taken Kohli’s help to secure the release of “close aide” Praveen Chandra Pathak, convicted in a murder case, on parole.

But today, Namdhari made short of the alleged links with a long literary anecdote.

“When Punjabi writer Amrita Pritam asked for a good title for her autobiography from Khushwant Singh, the renowned author had smiled and said: ‘Amrita your biography can be written on the back of a stamp’. Pritam was so inspired that she picked Rashidi Ticket as the title of her autobiography. My association with Kohli is so short that you can write it on the back of a stamp,” he told mediapersons at a news conference in Ranchi.

However, the former Independent parliamentarian nearly lost his cool when newsmen flooded him with queries.

A visibly upset Namdhari alleged that a section of the media had been running a false story to tarnish his image. The BJP, he added, was also spreading rumours against him.

Rubbishing allegations, levelled against him, Namdhari claimed “my friend Ambika Dutt Pandey” had last year introduced Kohli to him as a sober and intelligent man. Kohli was Pandey’s tenant. Later, Kohli requested meetings with him on a number of occasions during former’s visit to Palamau and Delhi.

“Kohli appeared to be a decent man. Last year, some local leaders apprised me of poor condition of the family of the jailed Praveen. His daughter was ill. I requested Kohli to help Praveen. He had arranged good lawyers who helped Praveen get three months’ parole,” the veteran politician explained.

Namdhari said he had felt an obligation towards Kohli and hence attended his wedding. “That does not mean that there was any nexus between Kohli and me or that I knew about his dubious activities. I knew him as a Sikh,” he said.

Namdhari said he was shocked to know that Kohli had physically assaulted his wife and had forced her to embrace Islam. “After media reports on Tara-Kohli episode came out, I met Tara. I am hurt that some vested interests are levelling baseless allegations against me,” he said.


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