The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cornered MP warns Laloo

Patna, July 31: Laloo Prasad Yadav may be seeking spiritual solace in Amravati, but his proxy battle with Mohammad Shahabuddin is raging furiously on his home turf.

The battle reached a climax here today as the special task force geared up to arrest the Siwan MP. The move follows a directive from Bihar director-general of police D.P. Ojha yesterday, ordering the immediate execution of an arrest warrant against Shahabuddin, who is wanted in at least 10 criminal cases.

The order, relating to a two-year-old case in which one CPI-ML worker was allegedly abducted and murdered by Shahabuddin’s men, could not have been issued unless the RJD chief had given the go-ahead, party insiders say.

“Nothing moves in Bihar without his nod. The Rashtriya Janata Dal chief has sent his message out loud and clear. As police get busy in Patna to teach the MP a lesson, he (Laloo) is away on a holy trip to Amravati for spiritual solace pretending that he knows nothing. That is his classic style,” a state minister and party MLA said.

Task force chief V.K. Singh said Ojha’s order was not an empty threat. Confirming he has received the order, Singh said his force was ready to arrest the MP.

“Our forces are supposed to execute the order of the DGP. We are there in Siwan district and keeping a watch on the airport, bus stands and train stations. But we hope he will surrender before the court,” Singh added.

But Shahabuddin, who was available over the phone from Delhi, said: “Whichever political boss is instigating the director-general of police to arrest me will suffer heavy political loss. As a law-abiding citizen, I will knock at the door of the judiciary for justice.”

Without naming him, the MP hinted that Laloo Prasad was behind Ojha’s order. He also alleged that the DGP was out to malign him politically.

Ojha has ordered Shahabuddin be arrested and stripped of his security cover. He has also asked all criminal cases pending against the MP to be shifted to Patna. This would enable witnesses to depose before the court without fear, he says.

One of the cases against Shahabuddin relates to the May 2001 incident at his Pratappur house. The MP had slapped an inspector in public, leading to a virtual police revolt in the district and a raid on his house. Shahabuddin evaded arrest by slipping through the Uttar Pradesh border sporting a burqa.

The MP faces 38 criminal cases, including murder, loot, intimidation and assaulting police officers.

The power Shahabuddin wields can be gauged from the way in which the Supreme Court ordered a murder case against him to be shifted from Siwan to Ranchi. The case related to the murder of three members of an advocate’s family by henchmen belonging to the MP.

Shahabuddin fell out with Laloo Prasad when the RJD chief discovered that the MP was still very close to the expelled RJD vice-president, Ranjan Yadav. Overriding Shahabuddin’s objections, Laloo Prasad approved the appointment of Jha as DGP early this year to signal his displeasure with the Siwan MP.

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