RJD legislator from Nawada in Bihar, Raj Ballabh Yadav, surrendered before a Biharsharif court on Thursday almost a month after an arrest order was issued against him in connection with the rape of a minor.
“I have surrendered as I respect the judiciary,” the 53-year-old legislator said.
Yadav, a former minister in the Lalu Yadav-led Rashtriya Janata Dal government and three-time MLA, said he is innocent and has been framed.
Yadav was charged with rape of a Class 10 girl on February 6. Police, which had initially denied registering a case, was forced to file it on February 9 after a chance inspection by DIG (central range) Shalin. An arrest order was issued on February 13 against Yadav in connection with the rape case.
The incident in Nalanda, chief minister Nitish Kumar’s constituency, set off a political war with the BJP-led NDA attacking the government for what it called a return to the jungle raj. The opposition also used the incident to drive a wedge in the Janata Dal-United and RJD alliance.
Yadav surrendered exactly a month after the Patna high court, where he had applied for an anticipatory bail, failed to take up the case despite a change of bench.
A Biharsharif court headed by ADJ-1 Rashmi Shikha, which registered the case under protection of children from sexual offences act (POCSO), had earlier denied bail to Yadav and also ordered that his property be attached, saying it was a heinous crime which could not be overlooked.
Biharsharif administration and police have cancelled his vehicle and gun licenses and his attached homes on orders of the court.
The girl had told the police that she was lured by a woman, Sulekha Devi, and her daughter to the MLA’s house, where she was raped. She later identified Yadav as the offender recognizing in person and from photographs the police had shown her.
Sulekha Devi, her sister, daughter and mother have been arrested by Biharsharif Police.
The Nitish Kumar administration took a strong view of the case and confronted opposition barbs over the delay in Yadav’s arrest saying, “He cannot run. How far can he? He will be arrested, booked and put through speediest of trials and jailed.”
Kumar had also ordered a medical re-examination of the girl after taking into cognizance a National Women’s Commission teams’ observation that the one-man medical team report was fallible. The doctor was recommended for suspension.
The political war, however, spilt over with the NDA effecting a bandh in Biharsharif on March 6 and threatening a statewide strike, if the state failed to arrest Yadav.