The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Battle of barbs fans cop axe embers

Patna, Dec. 7: Sidelined Bihar police chief D.P. Ojha continued in a combative mood today as the Opposition BJP came out in his support and exchanged punches with rival Rashtriya Janata Dal over his ouster.

“I have been removed from the post to appease Shahabuddin, the real issue was Shahabuddin,” said Ojha, who was shunted out as director-general of police yesterday, a day after he submitted a 100-page report on the criminal activities of the RJD’s Siwan MP to the government.

“I am free now to take the matter to the people and to the court,” he said. Ojha had alleged yesterday that his ouster was a reflection of the government’s mala fide intentions.

An aggressive BJP, too, claimed that Ojha’s removal showed the criminal face of the government whose leaders are in the grip of criminals. The party took out several protest marches in the capital to observe a “black day”. The state NDA has decided to observe a Bihar bandh on Tuesday.

State BJP chief Gopal Narayan Singh said it was not a crime to speak the truth and, as the head of the police, Ojha was justified in speaking out against his subordinates. It is sad that someone is punished for speaking the truth.

The RJD struck back, with party chief Laloo Prasad Yadav saying Ojha had begun to talk like Sushil Kumar Modi, the leader of the Opposition from the BJP. “He (Ojha) tried to project himself as a reformer greater that Jayaprakash Narayan,” he had said earlier.

Excise minister Shivanand Tiwari, who faced a public backlash at a book fair yesterday for leading the sack-Ojha charge, was more scathing.

“After 33 years of service, he suddenly realised the system is inefficient. With only three months left for his retirement, he started the tirade. This shows he has political ambitions and he wants the support of the NDA for this,” he said.

As the parties engaged in a battle of barbs over Ojha’s attempt to break the criminal-politician nexus, the policeman at the centre of the row received backing from, ironically, a politician behind bars.

Surajbhan Singh, Independent MLA from Mokama, said Ojha incurred the wrath of the government for taking action against notorious criminals and the mafia. The history-sheeter, now lodged in a Patna jail, is said to be close to the NDA.

While the world raved around him, Ojha clarified that he has not yet resigned due to technical problems. He had vowed yesterday not to spend another day under the RJD government.

“In any case, I am not going to work under this government. It is as good as that. I may opt for voluntary retirement though I have just two months left for retirement,” he explained.

He has been shifted to civil defence, but has not taken charge yet.

Ojha’s replacement, W.H. Khan, took office with a dig at his predecessor, saying individuals could not fix the priorities of the force, when asked if he would carry on the struggle to clean the system.

He would prefer to quit the moment he developed a dislike for the present system, he said.

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