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Mohammad Shahabuddin
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Mohammad Shahabuddin
Mohammad shahabuddin.jpg
Mohammad Shahabuddin
Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha
In office
Preceded byBrishin Patel
Succeeded byOm Prakash Yadav
Member of Bihar Legislative Assembly
In office
Personal details
Born(1967-05-10)10 May 1967
Died1 May 2021(2021-05-01) (aged 53)
Political partyRashtriya Janata Dal
Other political
Janata Dal
Spouse(s)Hena Shahab
Mohammad Shahabuddin (10 May 1967 – 1 May 2021) was an Indian politician. He was a former Member of Parliament from the Siwan constituency in the state of Bihar, Former National Vice President Rashtriya Janata Dal and a former member of the National Executive Committee of the Rashtriya Janata Dal. He was disqualified from contesting elections following his conviction for the kidnapping and disappearance of Chote Lal Gupta, an activist of the Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Liberation for which he served a life sentence. Shahabuddin has also been accused of killing 15 other Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Liberation activist including the former student leader Chandrashekhar Prasad.
Mohammad Shahabuddin was elected for four successive terms to the Indian Parliament between 1996 and 2004 from the Siwan constituency. He was also elected for two successive terms to the Bihar Legislative Assembly in 1990 and 1995 from the Ziradei constituency. His wife, Hena Shahab has contested from the Siwan constituency as the candidate from the Rashtriya Janata Dal following his disqualification and has been described as a proxy candidate.
Mohammad Shahabuddhin is described as a convicted gangster, a bahubhali (strongman) in the Siwan district and a close aide of Lalu Prasad Yadav, the president of the Rashtriya Janata Dal. He has also been described as a "Saheb" by his supporters. He died in 2021 of COVID-19, while serving his life sentence.
1 Early life and education
2 Political career
2.1 Police firefight
3 2004 elections (fought from prison)
3.1 Results and aftermath
3.2 Home arsenal (April 2005)
3.3 Political legacy
4 Criminal trials
4.1 Attempts to intimidate the legal process
5 Convictions
5.1 Two years for assault on CPI-ML office (Mar 2007)
5.2 Life sentence for kidnapping leading to murder (May 2007)
6 Pending cases
6.1 Out on Bail
6.2 Shifted to Tihar Jail, Delhi
7 Death
8 References
Early life and education
Mohammad Shahabuddin was born on 10 May 1967 in the village of Pratappur, in Siwan district of Bihar. He was educated in Bihar and has a Master of Arts and PhD degree in political science.
Political career
In the early 1990s, Shahabuddin came into political limelight, joining the Janata Dal youth wing under Lalu Prasad Yadav. He won the 1990 and 1995 elections to the Vidhan Sabha (state legislative assembly), and was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1996 on the JD ticket, after which he grew in stature.
With Lalu Prasad holding sway over the then state government of Bihar, and the formation of the Rashtriya Janata Dal in 1997, Shahabuddin's power increased dramatically.
A report by the People's Union for Civil Liberties in 2001 states:
The patronage and de facto immunity from legal action offered to him by the RJD government gradually made him a law unto himself giving him an aura of invincibility. Since the police turned a blind eye to his criminal activities and allowed him to turn Siwan district into his fiefdom where his fiat ran. Shahabuddin's reign of terror was so complete that nobody dared depose against him in cases in which he was an accused.
Police firefight
On 16 March 2001 the police were executing a warrant on the president of the local RJD unit, when Shahabuddin objected and slapped the arresting officer Sanjiv Kumar, while his men beat up the police.
The police then re-grouped in strength and a pitched battle was launched on Shahabuddin's house, with help being sought from other police units in the vicinity, including one from Uttar Pradesh.
In the extensive fire exchange that followed, two policemen and eight others were killed, with three AK-47s and other weapons being found near several of the deceased. Shahabuddin and his men escaped, setting fire to three police jeeps, and firing continuously to cover their movements. Neither Shahabuddin nor Manoj Kumar could be arrested. After this episode, several more cases were filed against Shahabuddin; however he could not be arrested.
By the early 2000s, Shahabuddin was running a parallel administration in Siwan, holding sharia inspired khap panchayats to settle family and land disputes, fixing doctors’ consultancy fees, and arbitrating on marital problems. In 2005, the Siwan District Magistrate described him as a habitual criminal.
2004 elections (fought from prison)
Shahabuddin ran for the Siwan Lok Sabha constituency in 2004. In late 2003, eight months before the 2004 general elections, Shahabuddin was arrested on charges of abducting Chote Lal Gupta, a Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Liberation worker in 1999, who was never seen again. Instead of staying in prison, he arranged to have himself shifted to the Siwan hospital on medical grounds; there, a complete floor was set aside for him. Here he conducted meetings organizing his elections, and anyone could walk in to meet him, subject to checks by his bodyguards. Every afternoon at four, he held audience for his subjects, who arrived to meet their Saheb (boss), and to get their problems resolved. One petitioner turned out to be a policeman seeking a promotion; Sahabuddin called up the police bosses on his mobile phone and arranged things on the spot. For another petitioner, he called up a minister in Delhi. Another petitioner, wishing to resolve a land dispute, brought him a rifle as a gift, right there in his prison.
Although the elections saw little activity by the opposition – every shop carried a photograph of Shahbuddin, and according to a BBC report:
There is almost no sign of the opposition campaigning in the constituency. One villager, pleading that his identity should not be disclosed, said: "Do you want to get us hanged by telling you what we feel about elections here and who we would like to vote for?"
Several phone booth owners and other businessmen were killed after putting up banners or posters of opponents.
A few days before the election, the Patna High Court directed the state government to return Shahbuddin to jail, instead of in Siwan hospital.
Results and aftermath
Shahabuddin won comfortably, though the second place finisher Om Prakash Yadav of the Janata Dal (United) party, had managed to get two lakh votes, about 33.5% of the electorate. In the 1999 elections, JD(U) had polled only 7.5% of the vote.
Within days of these results being announced, nine party workers of the Janata Dal (United) were killed, and a large number were beaten up; it is widely believed that this was a retaliation for daring to put up a credible fight.
Harendra Kushawaha, the mukhia (chief of Panchayat or village council) of the Bhanta Pokhar village where Om Prakash Yadav had a strong majority, was shot dead at a government office.
After several bullets were fired at Om Prakash Yadav's house, the civil authorities assigned him a posse of eight armed policemen as bodyguards.
During the elections, largescale rigging and booth capturing were reported from as many as 500 polling stations
and re-polling was ordered by the autonomous election conducting body, Election Commission of India.
Well after the elections, a case was filed against Shahabuddin that he had lied in his electoral declaration; whereas he had said he had been named in 19 cases, at the time, there were 34 cases pending against him.
Home arsenal (April 2005)
Despite being the elected representative of the region, he was extended from Siwan for months in 2005, since he was perceived as a security threat.
In April 2005, a police raid led by then Siwan S.P. Ratna Sanjay with the support of D.M.Siwan C. K. Anil on Shahabuddin's house in Pratappur helped recover illegal arms such as AK-47s, and other military weaponry authorized
for possession only by the army, including night-vision goggles, Laser-guided guns, etc. Some of the arms had the markings of Pakistan ordnance factories, and the then Chief of Police (DGP), Bihar, D.P. Ojha alleged in a report that Shahabuddin had ties with the Pakistan intelligence agency
Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
Subsequently, eight non-bailable warrants were issued for arresting Shahabuddin.
However, his party was part of the United Progressive Alliance headed by Manmohan Singh, and clearly he had considerable clout. Thus, although he was living in his official assigned quarter in Delhi, and attending parliament, the Delhi police and a special team sent from Bihar could not arrest him for over three months. However, a team from Bihar, without informing anyone, was finally able to arrest him from his official residence in New Delhi in November 2005. Subsequently, he was refused bail by the Supreme Court of India, where he was asked at one point:
By virtue of being an MP, are you entitled to keep these weapons, including a night vision device, when even the police, CRPF and other security agencies do not have it and only the army possesses it?
Political legacy
His wife Heena Shahab ran unsuccessfully for his former seat in parliament in 2009, 2014, and 2019 as a member of the RJD party.
Criminal trials
In May 2006, Nitish Kumar's National Democratic Alliance government set up a number of special courts for trying criminal-dons including Surajbhan Singh MP, and MP Prabhunath Singh from Nitish Kumar's own party, Janata Dal (United).
However, Shahabuddin claimed to have suffered a slipped disc, and was not in a position to appear in court. Medical reports however, indicated that he was fit to walk.
In any event, two special courts were set up inside Siwan Jail to try the cases pending against him.
There were more than thirty criminal cases pending, including eight of murder, and 20 of attempted murder, kidnapping, extortion, etc. Of these, charges were initially framed in eight cases.
Besides these police-registered cases, many other crimes are unreported. These include a large number of "disappearances" from Siwan; reports in the media allege that as many as a hundred bodies may be buried on the grounds of Shahabuddin's well-fortified Pratappur palace, the venue where the entire Bihar state police had to retreat after a fierce firefight while attempting to serve a warrant in 2001 (the three policemen killed in this battle also figure in the list of cases against him).
Attempts to intimidate the legal process
In July 2009, one of the session judges trying the cases, V.B. Gupta, was threatened by lawyer Mahtab Alam, who initially offered "allurements" for "rescuing" Shahabuddin. When this did not work, he threatened to eliminate the judge. Subsequently, the Patna High Court ordered that a charge be registered against the lawyer Mahtab Alam.
In August 2006, while undergoing treatment in New Delhi, some supporters of Shahabuddin were prevented from entering by the Assistant Jailor of Patna's Beur Jail Vashisht Rai, then on deputation at the ward in AIIMS. Apparently Shahabuddin told Rai:
Your family lives in Baniapur (near Chhapra, Bihar). No one will survive.
Bahut din se tum logon ki pitai nahin hui hai. Bail hone do peet ke rakh denge (you people have not been beaten up for a long time. Let me come out on bail and I will thrash you)"
The next day, he allegedly threatened jailor Sanjeev Kumar:
Tadpa tadpa ke maarenge (I will torture you slowly to death).
Shahabuddin is possibly the most prominent criminal-politician in India today; his is the standard to which other criminal-politicians are compared.
Two years for assault on CPI-ML office (Mar 2007)
In March 2007, Magistrate V V Gupta in a Siwan court (held inside the prison) sentenced
Mohammad Shahabuddin to two years imprisonment for the assault on the CPI-ML offices in Siwan on 19 September 1998. Shahabuddin and his armed supporters had bombed the premises and assaulted office secretary Keshav Baitha, who was brutally beaten up and suffered splinter injuries from the bomb blast. The court has also fined him Rs1,000 (about US$20. Indian fines follow antiquated laws, and are often very paltry in today's terms).
Life sentence for kidnapping leading to murder (May 2007)
In May 2007, he was convicted of the abduction of the trader and CPI(ML) worker, Chhote Lal Gupta, in February 1999, who was never seen thereafter and is widely presumed to have been
While it could be established that Shahabuddin with his gang had kidnapped Chhotelal (a witness identified him), the dead body was never recovered, so charges of murder could not be upheld. Justice Gyaneshwar Srivastava sentenced him to life imprisonment
under Section 164 (abduction with intent to murder).
The verdict has been challenged in Patna High Court; some of the points noted are that the conviction relied on a lone witness, who identified Shahabuddin in court, after a gap of seven years, without the benefit of a prior identification parade.
Under Indian law (section 8(3) of the Representation of the Peoples Act, 1951), a person is disqualified from contesting elections if sentenced for more than two years. However, Bihar Home Secretary Afzal Amanullah has stated that this conviction needs to be after all appeals are exhausted, but it is likely that the Election Commission may have considerable latitude in this matter.
Thus he may be barred from the 2009 elections; however, he continues to be a member of the present Parliament.
Subsequently, he has been convicted in a number of other criminal cases, including a ten years rigorous imprisonment for attempted murder on the then Superintendent of Police, S.K. Singhal, in 1996.
Pending cases
Trials are progressing in eight other cases in Siwan where charges have been filed.
Simultaneously cases are also under trial in other parts of the country, including a triple murder case in Jamshedpur.
One of the important trials is in regard to the abduction and murder of CPI-ML activist Munna Choudhary in 2001.
Out on Bail
On September 11, 2016, Shahabuddin walked out of the Bhagalpur Special Central Jail. Moments after coming out of Jail he jabbed at Nitish Kumar, the person under whose term and directions he was sent to jail. Though Shahabuddin said neither was Nitish instrumental in sending him to jail nor did he help in getting him bail.
Speaking to the media persons gathered outside, he professed his loyalty to RJD chief Lalu Prasad, while making it clear that Nitish Kumar may be the chief minister but he was not his leader. “Everyone knows whom I have been with all these years, and whom I will remain with. Nitish Kumar paristhitiyon ke neta hai (a leader born out of circumstances),” he said, replying to a question.
Shifted to Tihar Jail, Delhi
On 30-09-2016 Shahabuddin's bail was cancelled. On 15 Feb 2017 the Supreme Court directed that he be transferred from Siwan Jail in Bihar to Tihar Jail in Delhi.
Shahabuddin died of COVID-19 on 1 May 2021, after having been hospitalized a week prior. He had been kept in isolation from the 20,000 other inmates, but may have caught the disease from a jail officer.
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