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JUSTICE finally seemed to be catching up on controversial RJD MP Mohammad Shahabuddin when a special fast track court sentenced him for life for the murder of a CPI-ML (liberation) worker eight years ago. Already facing conviction and imprisonment for 2 years in connection with a case in which he and his supporters carried out armed raids on a CPI-ML office in 1998, the verdict will compound his problems.

The MP who scripted a rule-book of his own to run down political rivals with the kind of daredevilry not heard before in the Siwan district now even runs the risk of losing his membership of the Lok Sabha. His political career may indeed go for a spin if he fails to find reprieve from the higher court. The special sessions court judge G P Srivastava while sentencing him to life imprisonment allowed the MP a month to appeal. As per the Representation of People Act, a person convicted for an offence and sentenced for more than two years may be debarred from contesting election in future.

There was jubilation in the CPI-ML camp although the family members of the victim were not satisfied with the quantum of punishment meted out to the MP. “He deserved death for he not only kidnapped my husband but also killed him,” said Renu Devi, wife of Chhote Lal Gupta.

The CPI-ML which for more than a decade has been spear heading an agitation against the MP has now demanded his disqualification from the Lok Sabha. “The man is an out and out criminal. He has butchered not less than 18 of our workers. His membership should be terminated straight away” said an office bearer of the party. The state BJP leadership too demanded the termination of his Lok Sabha membership.

The RJD however blamed the Nitish Kumar-led NDA government for ‘targeting’ the MP in its bid to settle political score with him. “From day one, the Nitish government has been trying to prove that he is the biggest criminal,” RJD national spokesman Shyam Razak said adding they would file an appeal in the higher court.

Refuting what Razak said, the deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, however, said the case in which the MP has been sentenced for life was filed during the RJD regime in 1999. “We had no role to play. The case was kept in abeyance due to the patronage extended to the MP by the RJD government. The trials could not continue as the witnesses and lawyers were threatened. Yes, we were able to create the kind of atmosphere in Siwan for ensuring free and speedy trial,” he said.

The man who mocked at law with impunity first became member of the state assembly in 1990 after having won from the Jiradei seat in Siwan district. Though first elected as an independent, he soon switched his loyalty to Lalu Prasad Yadav and retained the assembly seat in 1995.

He has had the honour of representing the Siwan Lok Sabha seat in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2004. He fired at Siwan SP S K Singhal, in 1996. Such was his ways when he contested polls.

He has been accused in 35 criminals cases ranging from abduction, murder , possession of illegal fire arms of foreign make, violation of wild life act, treason etc. Barring the Pratappur incident in which the police raided his native village in 2005, the police seldom dared to touch the MP. He is also known to have murdered former JNU President Chandrasekhar.

The change of guard at the state, however, saw luck deserting him as two special courts were set up in the Siwan jail to ensure his speedy trial. Though he was transported last year to Bhagalpur jail, he was subsequently shifted to Siwan jail although there were apprehensions that his trial in native district could create law and order problem. “But we felt it would be fitting that he was tried in his own den” a police official said.

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