Tue. May 21st, 2024

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Patna:

Former Bihar MP Anand Mohan Singh walked out of jail in the early hours today amid a huge row over the Bihar government’s prison rule change that cleared the path for his release.

The current location of Singh, who has served 15 years in jail for abetting the murder of an IAS officer in 1994, is not known. His son and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) MLA Chetan Anand is unreachable on phone and the family’s house in Saharsa is locked.

The gangster-turned-politician was initially to be released around 7 am. But the sudden change of plan was reportedly made to avoid the media.

Singh was out on a 15-day parole for his son’s wedding. During the break, he spoke to media. He returned to jail only yesterday.

The former MP’s release from jail comes after the Nitish Kumar government in Bihar tweaked the jail rules. Earlier, anyone convicted in connection with the murder of a public servant on duty was not eligible for a remission in sentence. This was changed by the Bihar government, paving the way for the release of 27 convicts, including Singh, who have served 14 years or more behind the bars.

The move has sparked a huge controversy, with Nitish Kumar government drawing fire from the Opposition BJP. BJP’s MP Sushil Kumar Modi, also Bihar’s former deputy Chief Minister, has said Mr Kumar had sacrificed law to stay on in power with support from ally RJD.

Singh, who represented RJD in Lok Sabha, is considered a prominent Rajput face. And his release is being seen as a move to attract Bihar’s upper caste votes in the 2024 general election. The release also comes against the backdrop of Mr Kumar meeting Opposition leaders to stitch a joint front to take on the BJP in 2024.

Singh, who faced multiple cases, was found guilty of instigating a mob that lynched district magistrate G Krishnaiah, a Dalit IAS officer, in 1994. Krishnaiah was attacked by a mob protesting with the body of Chhotan Shukla, another gangster-politician of Anand Mohan’s party, who had been killed a day earlier. Singh was sentenced to death by a lower court in 2007, but the Patna High Court later commuted the penalty to life imprisonment.

The late IAS officer’s wife has expressed disappointment over Singh’s release. Speaking to NDTV, Uma Krishnaiah said, “We don’t agree with the move. It’s in a way encouraging the criminals. It sends out a message that you can commit a crime, and go to jail but then get freed and join politics. The death penalty was good.”

The Central IAS Association, the top body for bureaucrats in the country, has slammed the move. “Such dilution leads to impunity, erosion of morale of public servants, undermines public order and makes a mockery of administration of justice,” it has said.

Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati, too, has criticised the Bihar government’s move that paved the way for Singh’s release, calling it an “anti-Dalit” step.

Speaking to the media during his parole break, Singh had responded to the uproar over his release. Taking a dig at the BJP, he had said sarcastically, “A decision has been taken in Gujarat due to pressure by Nitish Kumar and RJD. Some people have been released and greeted with garlands.” Asked if he was referring to the Bilkis Bano gangrape case, he said, “Yes, that’s what I am referring to”. BJP is in power in Gujarat.

He had said all the 27 people whose names are in the list for remission of sentence have served their time in the jail. “It’s not that the state government is letting people walk free just like that. There is a Supreme Court directive.”

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