A Bihar court on Thursday sentenced a BJP MLA, two former members of Parliament and 11 other people to rigorous imprisonment after they were found guilty in a 17-year-old case of arson and police firing that had left five men dead.
Ram Naresh Yadav, the BJP MLA for Parihar, and former MPs Md Anwarul Haque and Naval Kishore Rai were among those awarded rigorous imprisonment of 10 years. Rai’s bodyguard, at the time of the incident in 1998, was given a lighter sentence of five years in prison.
The then MLA of Pupri, Ram Charitra Rai, and four others had died in police firing after protesters demonstrating outside the Sitamarhi collectorate against alleged anomalies in flood relief distribution went on a rampage.
The Sitamarhi district magistrate, Ram Nandan Prasad, superintendent of police Paresh Saxena and 22 more government employees were wounded in the incident. The protest in August 1998 was called by Naval Kishore Rai.
“These leaders had provoked the agitators to attack officials on duty, the court observed during the hearing,” said a source.
On June 2 this year, the court held 15 people out of 45 accused guilty of arson and subsequent police firing.
The verdict stands to end MLA Yadav’s assembly membership, probably a first in Bihar for an elective representative to lose his seat following conviction in a criminal case.
Earlier, two Bihar MPs had lost their Lok Sabha membership after conviction.
RJD chief Lalu Prasad, former chief minister of Bihar and railway minister in the UPA government at the Centre, and party MP Jagdish Sharma were disqualified in 2013 after they were convicted in the fodder scam case by a Ranchi CBI special court.
This followed a Supreme Court ruling that any member of Parliament, legislative assemblies or legislative councils lose membership of the House if he or she is convicted of a crime and awarded minimum two years in imprison.
The order put to end the practice of convicted members holding on to their seats until they exhausted all judicial remedy in lower, state and the top court.