Arms to ahimsa, all on Piro don's syllabus

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By NALIN VERMA in Patna
  • Published 17.12.08
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Patna, Dec. 16: What does the “Gabbar” of Piro with 30 cases of murder, armed raids, kidnappings and extortion to his credit likes to do in his pastime? He likes to study, silly.

After having procured a PhD from a state university, Bihar don and suspended JD(U) legislator Sunil Pandey has now begun his DLitt.

The former MLA from central Bihar’s Piro constituency, who is currently lodged at the Beur jail for the abduction of noted Patna neurologist Dr Ramesh Chandra, will be looking into Mahavira’s philosophy of ahimsa or non-violence.

A first-class MA student of history from SB College, Arra, Sunil Pandey completed his PhD on “Mahavira’s preaching in present context” on November 27 from Vir Kuer Singh University, under the guidance of Ramji Rai, the head of history of the college.

For those who believe that the student of non-violence resorted to violent means for his degree — his PhD is allegedly more legitimate than many of his previous dealings.

“VKS University vice-chancellor D.N. Sharma was among the six internal and external experts on Jainism who interviewed Pandey for an hour on November 25, which led to the PhD,” a university official told The Telegraph.

Pandey had turned up for the interview with armed police in tow after receiving a special permission from the court.

When asked about his sudden change of heart, Pandey explained: “Look, I am a politician who is supposed to lead the society. I must be educated. The country is in turmoil presently and peace is eluding it. That’s why I have chosen a topic such as Mahavir, who is the apostle of peace.”

He added: “I am in jail. So what? Many of our leaders wrote marvellous books while in jail…”

Pandey is quite the study of contrasts himself. Known among his colleagues and policemen as a sharp shooter capable of handling AK-47s and lethal firearm with panache, Pandey is also a gold medallist who topped his university examinations in history (MA).

An authority on Jainism and Prakrit, his guide would vouch for the quality and clarity of articles written by him. However clear his articles may be, the man himself prefers to stay drunk. He had to resort to threats in the past when the media portrayed him as a “drunkard” and goon.

A goon he may be, he is also a lifetime member of the Indian Society of Gandhian Studies, All India Oriental Conference and Indian Society of Buddhist studies. Yet, the man with obvious Gandhian inklings, he was convicted for two years by a Sasaram court for carrying out armed raids in a prohibited area.

This is the same Pandey who in 1999 disappeared from judicial custody despite being guarded by eight policemen, remained in hiding for 16 days and abducted some of the men guarding him. He then disappeared into Kaimur range forests for a long time.

He is not the first don-cum-Bihar politician who has procured a PhD while being behind bars. Siwan don and MLA Md Shahabuddin, too, procured his PhD in political science from Bihar University, Muzaffarpur, in 2005.

“Shahabuddin got his degree at gun point. He never studied and there is a case to prove that he got his degree illegitimately,” a Muzaffarpur police personnel said.

On the other hand, Sunil’s teachers and fellow students recall the don as a “bright student who always came first”.

Family members, though not ready to be quoted, believe that he became “wayward” after failing to get a job of his choice in early nineties.

Sunil Pandey won the Piro seat for second term when Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) suspended him after a court awarded him life imprisonments.