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Tihar-bound Shahabuddin taken to Delhi by sleeper class

The Supreme Court had on February 15 ordered the Bihar government to move former RJD MP Mohammad Shahabuddin to Tihar jail in New Delhi to ensure his “free and fair” trial.

india Updated: Feb 19, 2017 23:51 IST
Avinash Kumar
Avinash Kumar
Hindustan Times, Patna
Shahabuddin,Siwan,Tihar jail
Former Rashtriya Janata Dal MP Mohammad Shahabuddin was brought to Rajendra Nagar Terminal station in Patna amid tight security. (SANTOSH KUMAR/HT photo)

Former Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) MP Mohammad Shahabuddin was, on Saturday, taken to New Delhi, where he will be lodged in high security Tihar Jail as per a Supreme Court’s order.

More than 20 armed security personnel accompanied Shahabuddin as he boarded the New Delhi-bound Sampoorna Kranti Express which left Rajendra Nagar Terminal station at 5.45pm.

Shahabuddin was brought to Rajendra Nagar Terminal station in the state capital amid tight security from Beur Central Jail, in the outskirts of Patna, where he was shifted from Siwan prison earlier in the day.

Rajendra Nagar Terminal station was turned into a virtual fortress by the police administration as a large number of supporters of the former MP jostled to get a glimpse of the gangster-turned politician.

The former MP from Siwan was moved out of the Beur jail at around 4 pm in a prisoners’ van, which was followed by more than 10 police vehicles.

The administration chose to take him to Rajendra Nagar terminal, the originating point of the train in an apparent bid to avoid any chaos at the busy Patna junction railway station.

Sources said the terminal was also chosen for security reasons and to make the shifting a low key affair by keeping the media at bay.

The police also anticipated trouble at Patna junction as a large number of Shahabuddin’s supporters had started assembling there.

“We did not want to take any chances during the shifting of the former MP from Beur jail to the station and to keep it a low key affair,” said a senior police officer, seeking anonymity.

The police administration also took all care to ensure that Shahabuddin was not provided any special treatment as per the directives of the Supreme Court during his transfer to Tihar jail.

He was booked in a sleeper class (S-2) compartment of the Sampoorna Kranti Express like an ordinary prisoner and whisked away to the train from the prisoners’ van at 5 pm after waiting outside the station for almost half-an-hour.

Sources said 22 policemen from Siwan were also booked in the train.

Earlier, he was escorted out of Siwan jail at 2.40am and brought to Patna by road amid tight security. Police and administrative officials reached Siwan divisional jail around 1am and informed Shahabuddin that he was being shifted to Tihar as per SC’s order.

Supporters of former RJD MP Mohammad Shahabuddin outside the Siwan jail before he was shifted from there. ( HT photo )

However, despite efforts of the prison administration to keep Shahabuddin’s shifting plan a secret, supporters of the former Siwan MP got wind of the developments and gathered outside the jail from midnight onwards. They also raised slogans against the Siwan district administration and the state government.

Jail officials said after the mandatory medical examination by doctors of Siwan sadar hospital, in accordance with the jail manual, Shahabuddin was escorted to a black SUV, which drove him to Beur jail.

Members of Bihar police’s special task force (STF) and officers, including the additional superintendent of police and the sub-divisional officer, accompanied him in seven other vehicles.

At least 10 SUVs, carrying supporters of Shahabuddin followed the vehicle carrying the RJD leader, but STF personnel forcibly stopped them near Nayagaon in Saran district, about 40km from Patna, and seized the keys of their vehicles.

Siwan superintendent of police (SP) Suarabh Kumar Sah said all directives of the top court were followed and no special facility was provided to Shahabuddin while he being shifted to Patna.

The SUV in which he was taken to Patna belonged to police and he was flanked by two armed security officials in the vehicle, the SP added.

The Supreme Court had, earlier this week, ordered the Bihar government to move Shahabuddin to Tihar jail to ensure his “free and fair” trial.

The top court order came on petitions filed by Asha Ranjan, wife of slain journalist Rajdeo Ranjan and Chandrakeshwar Prasad alias Chanda Babu whose three sons were murdered allegedly at Shahabuddin’s behest.

Last month, Shahabuddin triggered a row with his purported selfie showing his changed look inside Siwan prison, which went viral on the social media.

Siwan jail officials, however, denied that a selfie was clicked by Shahabuddin and said some “well-wisher” who might have come to meet him could have taken the photo and posted it on the social media.

Asha Ranjan had filed a plea stating that free and fair trial against Shahabuddin was not possible if he remain lodged in any Bihar jail as witnesses would not be able to depose against him.

Rajdeo Ranjan was shot dead in May last year near the Siwan railway station.

Shahabuddin is facing trial in 45 cases. The top court had sent him back to jail on September 30, 2016, by reversing a September 7, 2016, Patna high court order granting him bail.

First Published: Feb 18, 2017 11:46 IST