The release from jail of former MP Anand Mohan Singh, a bahubali (strongman) from the Kosi area of north Bihar who was convicted of inciting the murder of a district magistrate in 1994, has sparked a huge controversy.
The Opposition BJP urged the State unit of the IAS Association to challenge his release in court, while the Bihar chief secretary, the seniormost IAS officer in the State, asserted that Singh had been released from jail under the prescribed rules and regulations.
The former MP and convict was officially released from Saharsa jail in the wee hours of Thursday, but his whereabouts could not be traced after that. Family members and villagers kept waiting for Singh at Pachgachhia village in the Saharsa district of north Bihar — just a few kilometres away from the jail — in order to welcome his release after several years in prison, but he had not turned up till Thursday evening.
Singh, an upper caste Rajput bahubali of the Kosi region and MP of the Rashtriya Janata Party, had served over 15 years in jail in connection with the murder of the then-Gopalganj district magistrate G. Krishnaiah. The Dalit IAS officer, 37, was returning from Hajipur to Gopalganj on December 5, 1994 when his car was waylaid by an irate mob led by Singh at Khabra in Muzaffarpur, which was protesting the killing of local criminal and gangster Chhotan Shukla. They lynched Krishnaiah and shot him dead. Singh was subsequently convicted of inciting the mob to kill the officer, and was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Patna High Court.
On April 10 this year, the Bihar Government tweaked some provisions in the State’s jail manual. Ten days later, on April 20, the government issued a notification for the release of 27 prisoners, including Singh, on remission. A week later, he left the jail on the morning of April 27, after completing all formalities.
The Central IAS Association expressed its “deep dismay” over Singh’s release, and urged the Bihar Government to “rethink” its decision. The Andhra Pradesh IAS Association also expressed “strong objection” to the decision to release the convict of such a brutal killing. The late Krishnaiah hailed from Andhra Pradesh, and his wife and daughter now live in Hyderabad.
“We do not agree with the move of the Bihar Government to release him from jail. In a way, it’s encouraging the criminals. It sends out a message that you can commit a crime and go to jail, but then get freed and join politics. We urge the State Government and the Central Government for justice,” said the late Krishnaiah’s wife Uma and daughter Padma Krishnaiah.
Opposition BJP leader and Rajya Sabha member Sushil Kumar Modi said he was “baffled” by the studied silence of the State IAS Association, and urged them to mount a legal challenge against Singh’s release. “His release from court after tweaking jail manual rule is unconstitutional and arbitrary. The complete silence of the Bihar chapter of the IAS Association is baffling. They should approach the court and challenge Singh’s release from the jail,” Mr. Modi said. However, some state BJP leaders such as Neeraj Kumar Singh ‘Bablu’ have welcomed the government’s move to releasing Singh from jail on remission.
Soon after Mr. Modi’s statement, senior IAS officer and Bihar Chief Secretary Amir Subhani told journalists that Singh had been released from jail following all rules and regulations. When asked about the central IAS Association expressing dismay over the tweaking of the rules and Singh’s resultant release, Mr. Subhani said that “every organisation, association or individual has got right to express their opinion”.
Several Public Interest Litigations (PIL) have been filed to the Patna High Court seeking to quash the circular issued by the State’s Home Department of Prisons, which amended Rule 481(1)(a) of the Bihar Prison Manual, 2012 dealing with the early release of convicts serving life imprisonment. Patna High Court advocate Alka Verma and Amar Jyoti, state in-charge of an organisation named Bharat Ekta Mission, have filed the PIL, saying that the government’s decision was “arbitrary, unreasonable, malafide, irrational, unfair and reeks of ulterior motive”.