Murdered journalist Rajdev Ranjan’s wife says he had once turned down an invitation to meet former RJD MP Mohammed Shahabuddin in jail.
“A few days after a picture of Mohammed Shahabuddin meeting a Bihar minister in Siwan jail appeared in newspapers and on social networking sites, Rajdev got a call from Siwan jail. The caller said Shahabuddin wished to meet him but Rajdev did not oblige,” Asha Ranjan told The Indian Express at her Siwan residence.
Asha said her husband had not looked upset about the call and gone about his work as usual. “He was used to such things. As a journalist, he would report every little happening regarding Shahabuddin without fear,” she said. “It did not mean that he reported only negative things about Shahabuddin,”
Asha urged Siwan police or the CBI — which is yet to take over the case —to track down the “chief conspirator”. “There must be a chief conspirator, who must not get away,” she said.
Rajdev Ranjan, 46, Siwan bureau chief with Hindi daily Hindustan, was shot dead on May 13 while returning home from office. Siwan police have so far named over a dozen people including Laddan Mian, the alleged kingpin, who is said to be a close associate of Shahabuddin. The jailed RJD leader was moved from Siwan jail to Bhagalpur central jail recently.
Though Siwan police have not ruled out Shahabuddin’s direct or indirect involvement in the journalist’s murder, they admit they have not got any corroborative evidence against the former MP. The police, however, have been going through call records of at least 40 people who had gone to meet Shahabuddin in Siwan jail before he was shifted to Bhagalpur.
Asha Ranjan has returned to her Mahadeva Mission Compound house in Siwan town from Rajdev’s ancestral house in Hakkamgaon on the outskirts of Siwan town. Her husband had built the two-storey house in the town some six years ago with support from his two brothers, Kalicharan and Gautam.
Asha’s immediate concern is the admission of her son Ashish Ranjan after he scored CGPA 9.2 in Class X. “There is no question of keeping Ashish in Siwan. We are living in constant fear after the brutal killing of my husband. Ashish will study somewhere else. I cannot disclose where,” Asha said.
Asha’s daughter Sakshi Ranjan, 7, is in Class III. She silently watched her mother speak, as did Ashish, his tonsured head covered under a cap. Ashish’s uncles and cousins kept shuttling between the two sections of the family household. Rajdev’s brothers, both watch mechanics, live in Hakkamgaon with their parents, Radhe Choudhary and Sankeshia Devi.
Asha is a contract teacher at Hakkamgaon primary school.
“Though I am overwhelmed with the solidarity of the media fraternity, I urge CM Nitish Kumar and Education Minister Ashok Kumar Choudhary to regularise my job,” Asha said. “I cannot support my children with my salary of Rs 17,000. Besides, fighting for justice will be a long process and Rajdev could be forgotten like sundry other cases.”
Asha expressed satisfaction with the police investigation so far and alleged there have been attempts to derail the case but said the police have been doing their business.