Already on the backfoot after the release of former RJD MP Mohammed Shahabuddin on bail, the Nitish Kumar government was further embarrassed when pictures of Mohammed Kaif — a suspect in the Rajdev Ranjan murder case — with Shahabuddin and State Health Minister Tej Pratap Yadav went viral on social media.
One photograph showed Siwan resident Kaif, who is wanted in an extortion case, standing beside Shahabuddin after the latter’s release from Bhagalpur jail. Kaif, who has several cases registered against him in Siwan since 2005, reportedly travelled with Shahabuddin from Bhagalpur to Siwan. In another photograph, Kaif, sporting long hair, is seen presenting a bouquet to Tej Pratap Yadav. The picture was allegedly shared by Kaif on social media.
Although he has not been named as an accused in the Rajdev case, Bihar Police have been looking for Kaif because call detail records showed that he had spoken to Rajdev just two days before the murder, and had also been in touch with Laddan Mian, the main accused who was chargesheeted a month ago along with five others. Kaif is allegedly a sharpshooter who was associated with Laddan Mian, a key Shahabuddin aide.
Reacting to the controversy, Health Minister Tej Pratap Yadav said: “I do not know the person. I meet thousands of people. It is the handiwork of the BJP”.
Deputy CM Tejashwi Prasad Yadav also came out in his brother’s defence, saying: “Even Asaram Bapu has a picture with the PM. So what?”
Police, meanwhile, said they were getting a questionnaire ready for Shahabuddin. Siwan SP Saurav Kumar Sah said: “We are preparing a questionnaire for Mohammed Shahabuddin. He has to tell us how he knows Kaif, who is so far a suspect in the Rajdev Ranjan murder case. We have mobile phone records of Kaif being in touch with Rajdev and Laddan Mian. Kaif is a small-time criminal, who was wanted in a month-old extortion case. It is true that we want to interrogate him in the Rajdev case and decide if he can be named as an accused.”
Asked if Siwan police were preparing to challenge Shahabuddin’s bail in the Supreme Court, Sah said: “We are studying some video footage to see if he has threatened anyone after his release. We are also waiting for witnesses in old cases to complain if they feel threatened after Shahabuddin’s release.”
The district police has also written afresh to the Bihar Advocate General to initiate a bid to vacate stay on trial of 30 cases involving Shahabuddin.
The Patna High Court had stayed trial in these cases after Shahabuddin successfully pleaded before the court that he had no money to hire a lawyer. The court had engaged a lawyer, but Shahabuddin, though lodged in jail, did not get the government’s correspondence.
The Rajiv Roshan murder case of 2014, however, is not covered under the verdict as the murder took place after the court order.