Bihar Minority Welfare Minister Abdul Ghafoor and RJD’s Raghunathpur MLA Harishankar Yadav’s “courtesy call” on former RJD MP and convicted criminal Mohammed Shahabuddin in Siwan jail on Sunday has given the Opposition ammunition to slam the state government’s claims on the law and order front.
The timing of the visit could not have been better for the BJP, which is already attacking the Nitish Kumar government for its inability to arrest Nawada MLA Rajballabh Yadav in connection with the alleged rape of a Nalanda girl.
A video footage that has emerged shows Shahabuddin flanked by Yadav and Ghafoor, with food laid on a table in front.
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Convicted in five cases, Shahabuddin is serving life sentence in the Chhote Lal Shukla murder case and the acid murder of Siwan brothers, Satish Raj and Girish Raj. He was moved to Bhagalpur jail during the assembly elections and was subsequently brought back to Siwan jail.
BJP Legislature Party leader and former Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi said: “How can criminals be afraid of the law when a minister visits him and calls it a courtesy call? It is common knowledge that Shahabuddin played a role in the RJD’s candidate selection process before the assembly polls — and he did it from inside jail. Ministers and MLAs kowtow before him… this government is shielding criminals.”
Reminding the government that the Nawada MLA is yet to be arrested, Modi said, “The chief minister needs to act tough rather than talking about his commitment to law and order.”
Defending the duo, RJD chief Lalu Prasad said, “The BJP has no work these days. It is no big deal for people meeting a jailed leader. What happened if a minister met Shahabuddin? When I was in Ranchi jail, so many people, including important leaders, came to meet me in jail.”
Lalu’s wife and successor as chief minister, Rabri Devi, defended the state government in the Legislative Council after the BJP attacked it over women’s security.
Responding to BJP member Kiran Ghai’s remarks that the government is “going slow” on Rajballabh and SP Pushkar Anand, who faces a sexual assault case in Kaimur, Rabri Devi said, “One knows about rape and murder figures in NDA-ruled states. The government is doing its job.” She also tried to take the attack to the BJP by broaching the issue of Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani’s alleged “insensitivity” in not helping a girl whose father died in a road accident. But BJP MLC Sanjay Mayukh reminded her that the allegations are “baseless”, and that Irani is not a member of the Legislative Council.