| A boy helps JMM chief Shibu Soren put on his shoes as he prepares to leave for Jamtara on Saturday. Picture: Prashant Mitra
Ranchi/Jamtara, July 31: Another case has tumbled out of the closet to haunt former Union minister and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha chief Shibu Soren with a police team from Giridih arriving in Jamtara today to seek his remand in a murder dating back to 1974 — a year before the Chirudih massacre.
Soren is among the accused for the murder of two persons at Pirtand in Giridih.
Tension mounted in Jamtara as Soren prepared to address a public rally tomorrow and the JMM began mobilising men and material for it.
Party supporters all over the state today took out processions, demonstrated against the BJP-led government, burnt effigies of BJP leaders and handed over memoranda to the respective deputy commissioners, demanding dismissal of the Arjun Munda government and withdrawal of all old cases against Soren.
The arrival of the Giridih police team with a “production warrant” incensed JMM workers at Dumka and Jamtara. This was one more indication, they felt, of political vendetta by the ruling NDA.
A large number of criminal cases, they argued, had been instituted against Soren before he acquired a certain stature and entered Parliament. Why were the cases all being revived now, after three decades and more, they asked.
The Pirtand case accuses Soren and 10 others of the murder of Chandni Rai and Khirodar Singh on April 15, 1974, at Kudko village. An FIR was lodged by one Jang Bahadur Singh under Sections 302 and 307 of the IPC.
The Giridih police team claimed that the chargesheet was filed in 1980 and a non-bailable arrest warrant had been issued against Soren the next year. While it is not clear if he was ever arrested in the case, it appears that a production warrant was issued in 1983 when Soren was lodged in Dumka jail in connection with a different case.
Soren’s failure to appear before the court in Giridih is blamed by JMM leaders on the Dumka jail authorities. Since he was already in judicial custody, they argue, the onus was on the Dumka authorities to take him to the court.
An irate JMM central committee member, Jamiluddin Ansari, declared that the police cannot possibly declare Soren an absconder in the Giridih case as well.
Party leaders agree, however, that a piquant legal situation has arisen following the chief judicial magistrate, Giridih, turning down Soren’s plea for recalling the warrant.
JMM leaders across the state addressed small public meetings to denounce the “political conspiracy” to hound their leader. Their anger was specifically directed at the BJP.
The party’s leaders, they pointed out, had remained ministers in the Union government although criminal cases were pending against them. But the same set of leaders had orchestrated a campaign against Soren, they said, merely because he was an Adivasi. They vowed to teach the BJP a lesson in the Assembly elections, which are round the corner.