Former Rashtriya Janata Dal MP Mohammad Shahabuddin walked out of Bhagalpur prison in Bihar early on Saturday to a grand welcome from his supporters.
Shahabuddin, who has been in jail for a decade over multiple cases, was granted bail by the Patna high court on Wednesday in connection with the murder of a man who witnessed the killing of two brothers in Siwan.
“I have remained away from home for 13 years. Everyone knows I was falsely implicated in the case,” the former parliamentarian said after leaving jail.
Shahabuddin faces more than 40 criminal cases, including those of abduction and murder, and has been in jail for the past 11 years. In the last 10 of them, the former MP was transferred thrice to different prisons – once to Bhagalpur jail and other times to Gaya jail.
From Bhagalpur, Shahabuddin will head to his native place Pratappur in Siwan where security has been scaled up, with reinforcements being sent from other places. Security in Bhagalpur has also been bolstered to manage the crowds.
MP for four consecutive terms since 1996, contesting from jail in 2004, the RJD member said party chief Lalu Prasad was his leader. “The entire country knows which party I am with. Nitish Kumar became a chief minister due to circumstances,” he said.
The release of Shahabuddin, a Siwan strongman, might turn out to be a show of strength of the RJD. All hotels and circuit houses were booked in advance, in both Bhagalpur and his home turf.
But not everyone is happy. Many complainants and witnesses in cases against Shahabuddin have already sought police security. Since 1990, the district has seen blood on the streets because of a brutal battle for supremacy between Shahabuddin and the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation.
Fear seems to have gripped locals.
However, Shahabuddin said he did not want to be painted as a feared man.
“I represented Siwan, which has a population of 22 lakh. How many people in Siwan fear me. It is not possible to keep everyone happy, but there is nothing called fear due to me,” he said.
He also dismissed BJP leader Sushil Modi’s remark that the state government had facilitated his release, saying he didn’t take it seriously.
“I think my party also does not take him seriously. It is a legal process through which I have come out.”
According to sources, of the cases he faces, Shahabuddin received judgment in 12, four of which have been acquittals, while he has nearly completed his sentence in eight cases. He has been convicted in 10 other cases, while in some, trial is incomplete. In some cases, the fact sheet is in compilation stage, while in some part judgements have granted temporarily bail as the cases continue.