Thursday, November 29, 2007

Paswan predicts premature death for Nitish Government

Ram Vilas Paswan's organised the Sankalp rally on 28 November, Paswan made a fervent appeal to the people to help him come to power. Paswan had booked 27 special trains to ferry his supporters from across the state. He had toured Bihar and held public meetings for a month to mobilise people to come to his rally.

His Lok Janshakti Party sought a chance after 15 years of Lalu-Rabri regime, and the last two years of Nitish government’s performance. He indicated that he wanted to widen his support base beyond the Dalits in his preparation for theassembly elections are due in 2010. He was of the view that due to the internal bickering within the JD(U), the Nitish government may die a premature death.

“I contested the Lok Sabha polls in 1999 with NDA and ensured that I won more than 30 seats. Vajpayee formed the government and I was given the ministry of telecommunication. However, despite my performance being outstanding, I was duped and shifted to the coal ministry."

Similarly, in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls I contested in alliance with the RJD and Congress and the UPA won 30 seats from here which helped it form the government. But Lalu duped me and grabbed the railway ministry. He also worked hard to get my candidates defeated at many places,” Paswan alleged.Lalu Yadav had held his party’s Chetawani rally at the same venue on the same date last month.

Cop killer arrested

Ara: The proverbial long arms of law appeared short enough for three decades, before they finally caught up with a criminal.

According to the PTI release November 27, 2007 Suraj Singh, who allegedly shot dead Bharat Lal Prasad, officer in-charge of Udwant Nagar police station in Bihar's Bhojpur district in 1977, was arrested from his native Karisat village. Superintendent of Police Umesh Kumar informed the PTI.

Now 48, Suraj, who plunged into the world of crime by shooting Prasad and a co-villager Jainandan Singh when they had gone to Karisat to settle a land dispute, dodged the law all along though the 13 other accused in the case either surrendered or were arrested and even sentenced for various durations for their involvement in the crime.

"He will be tried and police will seek his conviction," the SP said.

No weapons were found on Suraj at the time of his arrest, though police claimed that he was involved in several crimes all these years of absconding.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Who is Reshma Khatun?

Mokama MLA Anant Singh's involvement in the alleged rape and suspected murder of
Reshma Khatun deserves more attention. In the aftermath of the attack on the journalists, it appears that the MLA has succeeded in diverting the attention of the media from the case of Reshma Khatoon who had despatched a letter to various TV channels claiming that she was raped by the MLA and his associates Mukesh Singh and Bipin Singh.

Later a man, who identified himself as Reshma's brother Munna had called up NDTV to inform that she had been killed and her body dumped by the roadside in Shastri Nagar,Patna. The antecedents of Reshma and Munna are not known.

Moakama is the same area which witnessed a gruesome attack on Dalits in Belchi in 1978 that horrified public opinion. After Emergency and electoral defeat Indira Gandhi was isolated and unpopular but her response to this atrocity brought her center stage. In the face of the apathy of the Janata Party rulers, she moved into the country side in the monsoons that had made the roads impassable, reached Belchi on elephant back to meet victims of atrocities on Dalits late at night. Belchi and Mokama blocks of Barh Subdivision in Patna district. Emergence of likes of Anant Singh shows that not much has changed since 1978 despite India Gandhi and her party's return to power. Not surprisingly, Congress party is on the verge of extinction in Bihar.

Anant Singh is a MLA from the ruling Janata Dal (United) party, who was arrested Thursday afternoon for having an NDTV crew beaten up, has promised that he will get the NDTV correspondent Prakash Singh killed. MLA Anant Singh, a noted Patna don, is in custody but he says that's no problem, he will get Prakash Singh killed even if he remains in jail. Bihar is known for its criminal-turned-MLAs and Anant Singh is no different. Singh is a much-feared figure in Patna and is a known history-sheeter. He has two dozen criminal cases against him, including murder, kidnapping and extortion. A dozen of those cases are lined up for a speedy trial. Singh won his assembly seat from Mokama seat in 2005. Soon after he was released from Buxar Jail.

Prakash was at Anant Singh's house for an interview when the attack took place. He went Singh's house to get his comments on allegations that he is responsible for a rape and murder case of a woman in Patna.

But instead of a comment supporters and bodyguards of the MLA at his residence attacked the NDTV and ANI crew. They were beaten badly. The NDTV cameraman, Habib, escaped but the reporter, Prakash Singh, was held captive for almost two hours during which time he was beaten further. The police refused to respond initially but after journalists staged protests they went and freed the two journalists. Habib Ali has been taken to the Patna Medical College Hospital after he complained of chest pain.

Attack condemned

Leaders cutting across political spectrum strongly condemned the attack on NDTV correspondent and other mediapersons in Patna by a ruling JD(U) legislator on Thursday.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, while describing the incident as unfortunate, said he had asked the state police chief Ashis Ranajan Sinha to take immediate action and added that five persons, including the MLA Anant Singh, have already been arrested.
Two of those held are the MLA's supporters, one is a personal bodyguard and one an official guard. The Bihar government has also decided to hand over to CBI the case of alleged rape and murder of a woman, which had led journalists to query JD(U) MLA Anant Singh triggering a brutal assault on them. ''The state Home Secretary has been asked to recommend a CBI probe into the alleged rape and murder of a woman by Anant Singh's associates. A journalistic inquiry into this incident led to the unfortunate attack (on media),'' Chief Minister Nitish Kumar told reporters. ''Those shedding crocodile tears over the attack on journalists and shouting from rooftops demanding a CBI probe are the people in power at the Centre. They are requested to use their influence to ensure that the CBI, which functions under the Prime Minister, takes up the inquiry,'' Kumar said.

Shameful incident

Asserting that his government was acting without ''fear or favour'', Kumar said Anant Singh and four of his associates were arrested and the case would be brought to its ''logical conclusion''. Two of the accused named in the FIR Mukesh Singh and Bipin Singh are absconding, Kumar said adding raids were going on to apprehend them and, if need be, police would move the court for attachment of their properties.

JD(U) president Sharad Yadav said the incident was condemnable and added that state government would take strong action. Rubbishing charges of lawlessness leveled by RJD supreme Lalu Prasad, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi said ''this is not 'Lalu Raj' where criminals are given protection. We have already arrested the MLA and others''.

Leader of the Opposition in Bihar Assembly Rabri Devi said the attack on the mediapersons is an assault on the freedom of the media. RJD has called a statewide Bihar bandh on Friday in protest against the attack. The RJD President described the incident as ''very shameful'' and demanded action against ''all the criminal elements in JD(U)''. LJP President and Union Minister Ramvilas Paswan demanded stern action against the MLA. He criticised the Nitish Kumar government saying its claim to providing good governance was hollow. (

Prakash Singh recounts assault:

We wanted to get the ruling party MLA's version on allegations of his involvement in the rape and murder of a woman whose corpse was found yesterday, said Singh.

But when we reached his house Anant Singh's supporters attacked us under the watch of government appointed guards.

Some climbed over the gate and chased my colleagues. One car of the media was damaged and the keys of NDTV's OB van were snatched by the MLA's goons. My cameraperson Habib Ali managed to run away to get help.

I was held captive inside the MLA's house and was beaten repeatedly with rifle butts

It took the arrival of the police to rescue me and ANI cameraperson Ajay Kumar. His leg was injured because of the beating

It was only after the protests by the media that the MLA and four of his supporters were arrested and sent to jail for 14 days. They are charged with attempt to murder and under the Arms Act.

Many in Bihar would say that the trauma we went through today is a fact of everyday life here - living with goonda raj.