Ranchi, Aug. 18: As the row over alleged police atrocities on Opposition MLAs rocked the Assembly, an Independent member stunned the House by revealing that he had been facing threat to his life from a senior officer.
Bhanu Pratap Sahi, the MLA from Bhawnathpur in Garhwa, said police superintendent Deepak Verma had conspired to lodge a false case against him. “The SP, who himself stands implicated in the murder of (then Bagodar MLA of the CPI-ML) Mahendra Singh and embezzlement of Rs 82 lakh seized from Maoists, provoked a block cooperative officer and a doctor to lodge a false FIR against me,” said Sahi, who himself has several cases against him.
Sahi said the superintendent looking after Garhwa had unleashed a reign of terror. “The SP had provided security guards to those who had lodged the case against me. But I have not been given security cover in spite of writing several times to the SP, the home department and the chief minister. So pronounced is the terror of the SP in Garhwa that no one is ready to speak against him in the entire district,” he said.
Sahi said he feared a threat to his life. “I know the SP will get me eliminated for speaking against him in the House. Mahendra Singh too had been eliminated within 15 days of speaking out against Deepak Verma in the House,” he said.
(Verma was contacted for his reaction to the charges but refused to comment on proceedings in the Assembly.)
The BJP’s Ravindra Rai and JD(U)’s Radhakrishna Kishore suggested that the Speaker summon Verma and also the block cooperative officer and the doctor, who were allegedly prompted to frame Sahi, for explanation. Speaker Inder Singh Namdhari agreed but Sahi and other Opposition leaders rejected the proposal on the plea that nobody from Garhwa would speak the truth against the SP for fear of reprisal.
The Opposition campaign began even before the House assembled for the day, with leaders gathering at the gate holding placards that depicted “police barbarity”. The agitated members demanded the “dismissal” of Verma for “framing” Opposition members in “false cases”.
During the Assembly debate, leader of Opposition Sudhir Mahto explained how the police had framed false cases against various members, including Manoj Yadav, Sukra Oraon and Sahi, for speaking on “issues of public interest”. Oraon alleged how the police framed him in a false case recently after he tried to lodge a complaint against a group of hooligans who had reportedly raped an eight-year-old girl near a market in West Singhbhum.
Oraon said local people had informed him that criminals had picked up the girl from a Manoharpur market. “I acted swiftly and identified the culprits. Then I approached the local police station to lodge a complaint against the culprits. But the police, instead of rewarding me, accused me of being hand-in-glove with the Maoists and framed me in a false case.”
Surprisingly, the treasury benches remained mute spectator to the Opposition attack.