The Bihar government officially issued the notification to release don-turned-politician Anand Mohan, currently serving life sentence for the murder of former District Magistrate of Gopalganj G. Krishnaiah. On April 24 evening, the Bihar government issued the notification containing the names of 27 prisoners, including that of Mohan.
When the news came, Mohan, who is on parole, was at the engagement of his son Chetan Anand.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Prasad Yadav went straight to the venue of the Ring Ceremony at Vishwanath Farm located in Chakbairiya locality, the outskirts of Patna. Both had just landed at Patna airport after meeting West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav.
Mohan and his wife Lovely Anand received them at the entrance and took them to the stage for the photo session with Mr. Chetan Anand who is to be married to Ayushi Singh, a doctor.
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Mohan, a don-turned-politician, is a Rajput and once ruled the Koshi region and is considered a leader of the upper caste community. He was also an MP from Sheohar Lok Sabha seat in 1996 while in jail. Mohan’s associate Chhotan Shukla was killed in a police encounter after which Mohan, along with Bhutkun Shukla, killed the then Gopalganj DM on the Muzaffarpur-Vaishali road in 1994.
Ms. Anand earlier represented Vaishali Lok Sabha seat in 1994 on the ticket of Bihar People’s Party, which is now defunct. She was also a member of the Bihar Assembly.
At present Mr. Chetan Anand is an MLA from the Sheohar Assembly constituency on an RJD ticket and his mother is also a member of the party. Ms. Anand was a candidate of the Hindustani Awam Morcha Secular in the 2015 Assembly election for the Sheohar seat but lost the election.
Mr. Nitish Kumar had indicated the possibility of Mohan’s release when he had stated that he was doing enough to get Anand Mohan out of jail during a function organised to honour Rajput king Maharana Pratap Singh at Patna’s Miller High School ground on January 23, 2023.
Three months down the line, the Nitish Kumar government tweaked the jail manual. The amendment in the Bihar Prison Manual, 2012, removed the “murder of a public servant on duty” clause from the list of cases for which remission of jail term cannot be considered. This particular amendment helped the early release of Mohan.
Mayawati slams move
On April 23, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) president Mayawati criticised the Nitish Kumar government for tweaking prison rules allegedly to facilitate the release of Mohan. She stressed that the move had caused a lot of anger among the Dalits across the country.
Former IPS officer Amitabh Kumar Das while speaking The Hindu strongly criticised the State government move calling it unprecedented. He also said that he would approach the Patna High Court asking it to strike down the amendment.
“In my entire career, I have never gone through such a change in the jail manual; this is unprecedented, not only in Bihar but in India as well. I am going to challenge the amendment in Patna High Court through PIL, my lawyer is already drafting the petition. I was trying to convince Ms. Uma Krishnaiah, the widow of G. Krishnaiah to file a PIL against the amendment but she was threatened by Anand Mohan’s gang and she refused to come to Bihar. Anand Mohan should be back at Saharsa jail. Any amendment should be in public interest rather than for any individual. He is not Nelson Mandela. Anand Mohan has committed a cold-blooded murder of a serving IAS officer. To save a murderer, Nitish is amending the rule which is mala fide. It will not stand in the court,“ Mr. Das said.
He further said that technically this issue should be raised by the IAS association of Bihar as Krishnaiah was an IAS officer.
Senior BJP leader and Rajya Sabha member Sushil Kumar Modi said, “This decision is against the public interest, it is unconstitutional, arbitrary, unnecessary and anti-Dalit as well. It is not only the question of Anand Mohan alone, along with 26 dreaded criminals are being released from the jail. Out of the 27, half a dozen criminals are convicted because of murder SC/ST people and government employees.”
Asked about the Opposition allegations that he was being released due to the pressure from Mr. Kumar and the RJD, Mohan mockingly said, “I think in the Bilkis Bano case in Gujarat too, the accused were released due to the pressure of Nitish Kumar ji and RJD. Let people say anything, I don’t care”
Asked about Ms. Mayawati questioning the release, Mohan said that he did not who she was. He also said that once he was out of jail, he would once again enter active politics.
Taking a cautious approach, senior advocate in the Supreme Court and Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said that the Bihar government’s remission order could not be compared with the remission of the convicts in the Bilkis Bano gang-rape case.
“It’s a policy of remission for people who have done 14 years in certain categories and Anand Mohan may be a beneficiary. That has been done by many States and somebody can challenge it. I am not supporting Anand Mohan or the policy but the two are not comparable. This remission [Bilkis Bano case] is specific to six-seven people in Gujarat,” Mr. Singhvi said.
BJP leader and Union Minister Giriraj Singh said: “Nobody has any objection to the release of Anand Mohan ji, rather he has been made a scapegoat after being in jail for so many years. However, the kind of work this State government has done in the name of Anand Mohan ji to release several other criminals, society will never forgive, ” Mr. Singh said in Patna.