Raksha Bandhan was never this joyous for Congress leader Sanjiv Saxena, mining baron Sudhir Sharma and former minister Laxmikant Sharma. Out from jail on bail in Vyapam cases, the high-profile trio celebrated the festival with their sisters in free environs on Thursday.
Unlike last two years, when tearful sisters tied rakhis to the Congress leader at the crowded jail premises, glee was palpable on their faces and Saxena’s.
“I firmly believe that my brother is innocent and fell victim to political conspiracy. Though I pray to God that he comes out clean in all cases, I am apprehensive about whether my brother will celebrate the next Rakasha Bandhan in free air or jail,” says 40-year-old Saroj Kuswah, who has been tying rakhi to Sharma for last 19 years.
“Last two years, we queued up at the central jail to tie rakhi on our brother’s wrist. But we were confident that this year’s Raksha Bandhan, we will see him out of jail. We’re still apprehensive that Sanjiv may return to jail…,” Sindhu Verma and Vandana Raut, foster sisters of the Congress leader, say.
Accused in five cases pertaining to Vyapam scam, Saxena was lodged in Bhopal central jail since his surrender before a court in May 2014. The Congress leader got bail from the Madhya Pradesh high court on May this year.
At his office in Mata Mandir area, Sanjiv described the last two Raksha Bandhan spent inside jail as nightmare. “Around 500 sisters came to the jail in last two years to tie rakhis on my wrist…After the festival, I descended into gloom as I missed my sisters…It took weeks to come out of gloom and I regained myself again only after the festival of Bhai Dooj and Diwali,” Saxena told Hindustan Times.
Saxena’s sisters Archana and Rashmi, one of whom had come down to Bhopal from Bengaluru, reached home early to greet him. “They visited me at the jail during the last two years, but the joy this year is inexplicable,” says Saxena.
Former technical education minister Laxmikant Sharma, who spent 19 months in Bhopal central jail in Vyapam scam cases before release in December 2015, celebrated the festival at native Sironj town in Vidisha district, 100 km from Bhopal.
Another high-profile Vyapam scam accused Sudhir Sharma, who was released on bail in June after spending 692 days behind bars, celebrated Rakha Bandhan in Bhopal due to conditional bail in four cases. Family sources said Sharma did not leave for Jhabua district due to the court’s restrictions.