By Imran Khan
Patna : As far as Bihar is concerned, it is just one Shahabuddin down with many more to go. A number of criminals with political links – charged with murders, kidnaps and extortions – are in line for legal retribution.
The life sentence handed to Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) MP Mohammed Shahabuddin, for the kidnapping of a political activist in 1999, has brought the state known for lawlessness a ray of hope that similar punishments await others of his ilk.
"It all depends on the government whether it will go for a speedy trial like in Shahabuddin's case or not," said M.P. Gupta, a senior lawyer of the Patna High Court.
"After Shahabuddin, it may be the turn of others like him. But the government has to show the political will," said a doctor who did not want to be identified by name.
Like Sahahabuddin, there are several accused, including RJD MP Pappu Yadav, Janata Dal-United (JD-U) MP Prabhunath Singh, former JD-U MP Anand Mohan Singh and Lok Janshakti Party MP Surajbhan Singh to face the heat.
There are also the criminals-turned-legislators like JD-U legislator Sunil Pandey, independent legislator Pradeep Joshi, former independent legislator Rajan Tiwari and Bharatiya Janata Dal (BJP) legislator Nityanand Rai in the queue.
If 52 criminal cases were registered against Shahabuddin in the last 22 years, there are over two to three dozens of cases registered against Surajbhan Singh, Prabhunath Singh, Sunil Pandey and Anand Mohan Singh.
Most trials – in different courts – are in the final stages or awaiting judgment.
Pappu Yadav, who is currently lodged in Delhi's Tihar jail in connection with the murder of Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Ajit Sarkar, is awaiting the pronouncement of penance.
Rajan Tiwari, currently in Patna's Beur jail, also awaits the quantum of punishment in the killing of RJD legislator Brij Bihari Prasad.
Anand Mohan Singh, who faces the charge of killing Gopalganj district magistrate G. Krishnaih in Muzaffarpur district in 1994, will get to know the punishment this month.
The state government has decided to expedite the trial of Surajbhan Singh in six cases, including murder. Singh is known to be close to Steel Minister and party chief Ram Vilas Paswan.
The government has appointed a special public prosecutor for the speedy trial of Singh's case, official sources said.
Singh faces charges of murder, extortion and other criminal activities – all between 1992-96 – in Begusarai district. He is also allegedly involved in a double murder – of RJD leaders Akhilesh Rai and Ram Udesh Rai.
The Patna High Court had last month ordered the transfer of Prabhunath Singh's trial in a murder case from a Bhagalpur court to the sessions court here to complete the trial in three months.
Prabhunath Singh, who represents Maharajganj in parliament and is a deputy leader of the JD-U parliamentary party, faces over two dozen criminal charges including murder, kidnapping and extortion.
JD-U's Pandey, who is currently in Beur jail, is charged with extortion, murder and kidnapping, while BJP's Rai is accused of killing two RJD workers.