Mohammad Shahabuddin

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Not to be confused with Mohammed Shahabuddeen, former Guyanese judge of the International Court of Justice.
Mohammad Shahabuddin
Mohammad shahabuddin.jpg
visit to opd
Member of Lok Sabha
In office
2004–2009
Constituency Siwan
Personal details
Born (1967-05-10) 10 May 1967 (age 47)
Pratappur, Siwan, Bihar
Political party RJD
Spouse(s) Hena Shahab
Children 1 son and 2 daughters
Residence Siwan
Religion Islam
As of 25 September, 2006
Source: [1]

Mohammad Shahabuddin (born 10 May 1967) is a Criminal turned politician.He was four times Member of Parliament from Siwan, Bihar, with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) party of Lalu Prasad Yadav, and 2-time MLA in the Bihar Vidhan Sabha (Legislative Assembly),Because of this conviction, he was not permitted to contest in the 2009 general election. .[1][2]

Md Shahabuddin was elected to four successive terms in the Indian Parliament (Lok Sabha) from 1996-2008. In the 2009 general election, the RJD party had put up his wife Hena Shahab from Siwan constituency in Bihar, but his long-time opponent, Om Prakash Yadav, defeated her by 63,000 votes (9%).

In 2004, Shahabuddin's opponents were intimidated from campaigning even though he was in prison[3] during the elections. Immediately after the election, which he won by a margin of 100,000 votes (16%), nine party workers of the nearest candidate, Om Prakash Yadav of Janata Dal (United), were found murdered, allegedly for daring to put up a credible fight.[4]

He has been winning Lok Sabha elections from Siwan since 1996, prior to which he was elected twice to the Bihar Legislative Assembly (1990 and 1995). Few opponents dare campaign publicly for fear; in addition, he is widely believed to have rigged many polling stations in the past.

In May 2007, Shahabuddin was found guilty in a case of "kidnapping with intent to murder", and he was sentenced to life imprisonment. This may mean that he would be unable to stand for any subsequent elections.

Shahabuddin holds a Master of Arts in Political Science, and a Ph.D., possibly from the B.R. Ambedkar Bihar University, Muzaffarpur.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Md. Shahabuddin is married with Hena sheikh and has a son (Md. Osama shahab) and two daughters (Tasneem shahab and Herah shahab).

Criminal career[edit]

Shahabuddin came into the political limelight while at college in the 1980s; he came to be known for his daredevil fighting and his opposition to the growing reach of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) (CPI-ML) and the Bharatiya Janata Party.[6]

The first criminal case against Shahabuddin was filed in 1986. Since then, Shahabuddin has accumulated an extensive criminal record, primarily in the Hussain Ganj police station at Siwan, where he is listed as a history sheeter type A (a hardened criminal with a history of crime). Type A is taken to indicate criminals who are beyond reform.

Political career[edit]

In the early 1990s, Shahabuddin came into the 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 continuing at the state government, 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 defacto immunity from legal action offered to him by the RJD government gradually made him a law unto himself and gave 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 has been so complete that nobody dared depose against him in cases in which he was an accused.[7]

Police-Shahabuddin firefight (16 March 2001)[edit]

Shahabuddin became extremely arrogant against the police and other bodies, slapping police officers and even shooting at them.

In March 2001 the police were executing a warrant on Mr. Manoj Kumar "Pappu", the president of the local RJD unit, when Shahabuddin objected and slapped the arresting officer Sanjiv Kumar,[7] 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,[7] 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 "kangaroo courts" to settle family and land disputes, fixing doctors’ consultancy fees, and arbitrating on marital problems.[8]

Vivid descriptions of Shahabuddin's style of operation were reported in the media in the runup to the 2004 elections.

2004 elections (fought from prison)[edit]

In late 2003, eight months before the 2004 general elections, Shahabuddin was arrested on charges of kidnapping a CPI(ML) worker in 1999, who was then never seen again. Instead of staying in prison, he managed to get shifted to the Siwan hospital on medical grounds, and where 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.[3] One petitioner turned out to be a policeman seeking a promotion;[4] 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.[4]

Although the elections saw little activity by the opposition - every shop carried a photograph of the Saheb, 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?"[3]

In fact, several phone booth owners and other businessmen were killed after putting up banners or posters of opponents.[9]

A few days before the election, the Patna High Court directed the state government to ensure that Shahabuddin was properly jailed, instead of the hospital floor.[10]

During the elections, largescale rigging and booth capturing were reported from as many as 500 polling stations[9] and re-polling was ordered by the autonomous election conducting body, Election Commission of India.

Results and aftermath[edit]

When the election results were announced, it turned out that although Shahabuddin won comfortably, his nearest Janata Dal (United) opponent, Om Prakash Yadav 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,[11] so this was a huge gain for them.

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.[4]

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.[9]

After several bullets were fired at Om Prakash Yadav's house, the civil authorities assigned him a posse of eight armed policemen as bodyguards.[4]

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.[12]

Home arsenal (April 2005)[edit]

Despite being the elected representative of the region, he was barred from entering Siwan for many months in 2005, since he was perceived as a security threat.[2]

In April 2005, a police raid led by S.P. Ratna Sanjay with the support of D.M. C. K. Anil on Shahabuddin's house in Pratappur revealed 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.[12] 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[13] 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.[14] 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,[15] 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?[16]

Criminal trials[edit]

In May 2006, Nitish Kumar's National Democratic Alliance government set up a number of special courts for trying criminal-dons including Suraj Bhan 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.[17] 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.[18]

There were more than thirty criminal cases pending, including eight of murder, and 20 of attempted murder, kidnapping, extortion, etc.[2] 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,[19] 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[edit]

In July 2006, 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.[20] Subsequently the Patna High Court ordered that a charge be registered against the lawyer Mahtab Alam.[21]

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 Chhabra, Bihar). No one will survive.[22]

Early in May 2007, the RJD central minister Md Ali Ashraf Fatmi came to Siwan jail to meet Shahabuddin. However, Shahabuddin wanted the meeting in his jail cell, and not in the visitor's area, which is against jail rules. When this was not permitted by jail officials, Fatmi left. Shahabuddin then threatened sub-inspector DK Pandey in court:

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)"[23]

The very next day, he again threatened jailor Sanjeev Kumar:

Tadpa tadpa ke maarenge (I will torture you slowly to death).[24]

Both these incidents were formally registered as First Information Reports under the code relating to criminal intimidation, and deterring a public servant from discharge of his duty.

Convictions[edit]

Shahabuddin is possibly the most prominent criminal-politician in India today; his is the standard to which other criminal-politicians are compared.[25]

Consequently, the Nitish Kumar government felt it important to bring some convictions against this noted criminal, thus re-inforcing its clean image.

Two years for assault on CPI-ML office (Mar 2007)[edit]

In March 2007, Magistrate V V Gupta in a Siwan court (running 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[26] (about USD 20. Indian fines follow antiquated laws, and are often very paltry in today's terms).

Life sentence for kidnapping leading to murder (May 2007)[edit]

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 killed.

While it could be established that Shahabuddin with his gang had kidnapped Chhotelal (an witness could identify him), the dead body was never recovered, so charges of murder could not be upheld. Justice Gyaneshwar Srivastava sentenced him to life imprisonment[27][28] under Article 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.[29]

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.[30] However, Bihar Home Secretary Afzal Amanullah has stated that this conviction needs to be after all appeals are exhausted,[31] 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.[32]

Pending cases[edit]

Meanwhile, other trials are progressing in eight other cases in Siwan where charges have been filed, these cover the following articles from the Indian Penal Code:

  • 302 (murder),
  • 307 (attempts to murder),
  • 364 (kidnapping or abducting in order to murder),
  • 365 (kidnapping or abducting with intent to secretly and wrongfully confine a person),
  • 379 (punishment for theft),
  • 147 (punishment for rioting),
  • 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapon) and
  • 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means)[33]

In addition, charges are yet to be taken up in another 23 cases.

Simultaneously cases are also under trial in other parts of the country, including a triple murder case in Jamshedpur.[2]

One of the important trials is in regard to the abduction and murder of CPI-ML activist Munna Choudhary in 2001,[34] in which witness Rajkumar Sharma, himself a criminal, has surrendered to the police, and is said to have recorded a statement identifying Shahabuddin:

Sharma said on 6 January 2001, he was roaming around on a motorcycle with his friend Munna Chowdhary in Vishunpur village when Shahabuddin, accompanied by his goons Rama Chowdhary, Manoj Das, Jawahar Chowdhary, and Pappu Srivastava arrived in three separate cars and opened indiscriminate firing at them.
One bullet struck the tire of the motorcycle causing them to hit the ground. Shahabuddin then fired one shot at Munna Chowdhary's leg and then dragged him into one of the vehicles and fled, Sharma told the police.
"Later, I learnt that Munna was killed and dumped into an abandoned chimney," he said.[35]

If Sharma stands by this testimony, perhaps more verdicts will be coming up against Shahabuddin (witnesses are often bumped off, even inside court premises, or may be induced to change their statements, e.g., see the Manu Sharma or Sanjeev Nanda trials).

Weakening of clout[edit]

Following these verdicts, it appears that some of Shahabuddin's clout may have weakened. Contrary to the situation in April 2004, he is in a real prison now, and several mobile phones have been recovered from him and his henchmen in the jail by police officials.[36] This resulted in yet another case being lodged against him for violation of jail rules, and two police constables being suspended.[37]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "31 cases against Shahabuddin, charges framed in eight cases". The Tribune, Chandigarh. 8 May 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-08. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Shahabuddin is a Habitual Criminal; Says Siwan DM". Patna Daily. 21 April 2005. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  3. ^ a b c Jyotsna Singh (21 April 2004). "Jail no bar for Bihar candidates". BBC News. Retrieved 2007-05-08.  BBC report from Siwan on the eve of elections 2004.
  4. ^ a b c d e Saba Naqvi Bhoumick (April 2005). "The Saheb of Siwan". First Proof – The Penguin Book of New Writing from India I. New Delhi: Penguin. ISBN 0143032445. 
  5. ^ Parliament of India website Profile of Dr. Mohammad Shahabuddin
  6. ^ "Paradox called Siwan- State of national heroes & anti-heroes". The Telegraph, Jamshedpur. 22 May 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  7. ^ a b c People's Union for Civil Liberties (October 2001). "Encounter Between the Police and Md. Shahabuddin's Group at Pratappur, District-Siwan on 16.03.2001: The Report of Bihar and Jharkhand PUCL". PUCL Bulletin,. 
  8. ^ irshad azmi (4 December 2005). "The govt of Siwan". Mumbai Mirror/SiwanTimes Blog. Retrieved 2007-05-08. [dead link]
  9. ^ a b c Amarnath Tewary (23 June 2004). "After ballot, now bullet rules in Shahabuddin's Siwan". The Pioneer. Retrieved 2007-06-02. 
  10. ^ "Jail Siwan MP properly: Patna HC". Times of India. 24 April 2004. Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  11. ^ Election Commission of India website; 1999 general elections Siwan constituency results website
  12. ^ a b Anand Mohan Sahay (24 April 2005). "Raids at Shahabuddin's house yield firearms". rediff.com. 
  13. ^ "Criminalisation of Politics in Bihar". indian-elections.com. Retrieved 2007-05-08. 
  14. ^ "RJD minister quits, Shahabuddin held". Tribune News Service. 6 November 2005. Retrieved 2007-05-08. 
  15. ^ United News of India (2 February 2007). "SC dismisses Shahabuddin bail application". indlawnews.com. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-08. 
  16. ^ The Hindu Legal Correspondent (9 January 2007). "Why do you need arms? Supreme Court asks Shahabuddin". The Hindu. Retrieved 2007-05-08. 
  17. ^ Ashok Pandey (letter / blog) (18 June 2006). "Shahabuddin, the Manipulator". Patna Daily. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  18. ^ Dipak Mishra (29 May 2006). "Shahabuddin to face fast track court". Times of India. Retrieved 2007-05-08. 
  19. ^ Srivatsa Krishna (23 May 2005). "Wanted: Men With Guts". Outlook (magazine) web. Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  20. ^ pti (28 July 2006). "Shahabuddin associate threatens judge". Outlook (magazine). Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  21. ^ "Court Orders FIR Against Siwan MP's Lawyer". Patna Daily. 30 July 2006. 
  22. ^ "Shahabuddin in Trouble, Again!". Patna Daily. 28 August 2006. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  23. ^ PTI, Siwan (2 May 2007). "Fresh FIR against Shahabuddin". Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  24. ^ PTI, Siwan (3 May 2007). "After police officer, now jailor files FIR against Shahabuddin". Outlook (magazine). Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  25. ^ Sanjay Singh (8 May 2007). "SP fears the wrath of a spurned don". Indian Express. Retrieved 2007-05-24. 
  26. ^ Jai Prakash Yadav (3 March 2007). "Shahabuddin gets two years imprisonment". Indian Express. Retrieved 2007-05-08. 
  27. ^ Sanjay Singh / PTI (5 May 2007). "Shahabuddin convicted in kidnapping case, acquitted in two". Daily News and Analysis, Mumbai. Retrieved 2007-05-08. 
  28. ^ Amarnath Tewary (8 May 2007). "Indian MP given life for kidnap". BBC News. Retrieved 2007-05-08. 
  29. ^ "Hearing on Shahabuddin deferred". CNN-IBN. 28 May 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  30. ^ "Shahabuddin sentenced to life for murder". monstersandcritics.com. 8 May 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-08. 
  31. ^ NDTV Correspondent, Siwan (8 May 2007). "Siwan court sentences Shahabuddin for life". NDTV. Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  32. ^ http://www.indianexpress.com/news/shahabuddin-gets-10-years/213727/
  33. ^ "Political slugfest over Shahabuddin". CNN-IBN. 8 May 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  34. ^ Press Trust of India (21 May 2007). "Fresh setback to RJD MP Shahabuddin". Hindustan Times, Patna. Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  35. ^ "Shahabuddin's Troubles Continue to Mount". Patna Daily. Patna: 19 May 2007. 
  36. ^ Javed Akhtar, Siwan (16 May 2007). "Two mobile phones recovered from Shahabuddin in Siwan jail". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  37. ^ pti (17 May 2007). "Yet another case against Shahabuddin". Outlook (magazine). Retrieved 2007-06-04.