K. Balchand

PATNA: The CBI special court on Wednesday sentenced Rashtriya Janata Dal MP Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav, former MLA Rajan Tiwari, and an associate Anil Yadav to life imprisonment for the murder of CPI(M) MLA Ajit Sarkar and two others on June 14, 1998.

The special court judge, B.M. Shrivastava, also imposed a fine of Rs. 10,000 on each of the three convicts who were present in the court room when he pronounced them guilty and awarded their punishment.

The court had concluded the trial on February 14 and reserved its verdict. The Patna High Court had directed it to conclude the case by January but later extended the deadline by a fortnight.

61 witnesses examined

The CBI in support of its prosecution examined 61 witnesses to prove the murder of Sarkar, his driver Harendra Sharma and CPI(M) worker Ashfaqur Rehman in Purnia, which constituency Sarkar represented.

Mr. Pappu Yadav’s political rivalry with Mr. Sarkar was a much-publicised affair. He, however, broke down in the court room and urged for leniency. The judge pointed out that he had the privilege to appeal in the appellate court.

40 cases against him

The RJD MP from Madhepura, facing more than 40 cases, was brought to Patna from Tihar Jail where he has been lodged on the directive of the Supreme Court for violating jail rules during his stay in Central Jail, Beur holding durbas and using his mobile phones with impunity.

He used a wheelchair. He would be taken back to Tihar Jail on Thursday.

His lawyers said that they would move the Patna High Court for bail on Thursday and consequently appeal against his conviction.

Sarkar’s widow and former legislator, Madhvi Sarkar, and daughter Reema Sarkar welcomed the verdict and said that justice had been done to them after almost a decade of wait.

Corrections and clarifications