The Janata Dal (United) suspended legislator Manorama Devi on Tuesday after liquor bottles were found in her house and the government moved to arrest the legislative council member whose son is accused of killing a student.
Principal secretary of the excise department KK Pathak told HT that the MLC will be arrested because recovery of liquor bottles is punishable in Bihar – a dry state – with a jail term of up to 10 years and fines up to Rs 10 lakh.
“Recovery of bottles from her residence is proof enough for legal action as per the new excise law. Her husband and son are already in jail,” he said.
This came on a day Manorama Devi’s son Rakesh Ranjan alias Rocky was arrested for allegedly killing 18-year-old Aditya Sachdeva during a tiff about overtaking late Saturday night in Gaya.
JD (U) spokesperson Neeraj Kumar said the ‘rule of law’ will always remain the USP of the party.
“In this case, recovery of liquor bottles, as reported, is another thing that the government will hard to accept from a people’s representative house,” he added.
The suspension happened soon after chief minister Nitsh Kumar reached Patna from Dhanbad and indicates the JD(U) is aiming to blunt criticism of favouritism and shielding of the MLC in the controversial case.
The road rage incident has sparked protests in Bihar and embarrassed the government with opposition parties accusing Kumar of losing his grip on law and order.
Pathak said he directed police to include the MLC in the FIR or lodge a separate one. Sources said Pathak was monitoring the matter and called up several times to know if the MLC’s name was included in the FIR.
“I have asked for inclusion of MLC’s name in the old FIR or lodging of a fresh one. When liquor has been recovered from her residence, how can she remain out of it,” he added.
The police recovered liquor in raids at Manorama Devi’s Gaya residence in search of Rocky.
Following the seizure of the prohibited items, Gaya police instituted cases against Rocky and his father Bindi Yadav under the new excise act.
However, no case was initially filed against Manorama Devi, a matter that was raised by BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi.
The Bihar government clamped a complete ban on the sale and consumption of liquor on April 5. Nearly 8,000 persons have been arrested in the pre-prohibition swoop and the first 35 days of total prohibition in the state.
Earlier in the day, police arrested 24-year-old Rocky around 4am from Bodh Gaya, where his father Bindi Yadav owns a dairy and an asphalt hot mix plant, Gaya district magistrate Kumar Ravi told HT.
“Rocky has confessed to his crime. His statement corroborates those of the witnesses that it was a case of road rage,” said Gaya senior superintendent of police Garima Malik.
But Rocky denied confessing to any crime. “I was in Delhi. I came only because my mother called me. I did not fire or kill anyone,” he told reporters.
The incident is a huge embarrassment for Kumar, who won a crushing victory in polls eight months ago but has since grappled with mounting crime and allegations of rape and murder against members of his party or coalition partners.
Sources said Rocky told police he intended to fire at a tyre of the Maruti Swift Dzire that Sachdeva and four friends were driving but accidentally shot through its rear windscreen.
Sachdeva and his friends allegedly ignored signals to let Rocky’s Range Rover overtake on a narrow road. This infuriated the MLC’s son, who chased down the vehicle and – despite pleas for mercy – roughed up the driver of the Dzire.
It was when the five tried to escape that the MLC’s son allegedly sprayed the car with bullets, one of which killed Sachdeva – son of a prominent Gaya businessman.
Malik said police recovered the weapon — an Italian-make Beretta pistol with a bullet — used in the crime, as well as the firearms licence issued to Rocky.
Since Sunday, Kumar has appeared defensive, vowing to bring those found guilty to book. But he has said action will be taken against Devi if her culpability in the incident is established.