NATIONAL

Bihar Minister resigns

PATNA APRIL 9. The Bihar Minister of State for Excise, Surendra Prasad Yadav, resigned from the Council of Ministers today in the wake of the issuance of non-bailable arrest warrants against him and two others in a case relating to abduction, torture and obstructing police from discharging their duties.

The Governor, V.C. Pandey, accepted his resignation. Mr. Yadav, was in fact directed to put in his papers by the Chief Minister, Rabri Devi, on learning about the order of the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate of Gaya, Raj Bhavan sources said.

Neither Mr. Yadav, nor his two other accomplices — Azad Gandhi, RJD MLC, and Pappu Yadav, brother-in-law of the RJD MLC, Shubash Yadav (Ms. Rabri's brother) — have surrendered before the police as yet.

According to sources, they are likely to seek anticipatory bail. The arrest warrants were issued following a complaint by the police that three personnel along with an accused, Atul Prakash, whom they were escorting from Gujarat, had been abducted and tortured at Mr. Yadav's residence in Gaya.

They had also charged the three with obstructing them from discharging their duties.The Gaya police have since arrested the three police personnel for complicity in the crime. The three-member team headed by a Sub-Inspector had been dispatched from the Kotwali police station here. But as things turned out, they had travelled in the luxurious company of the Minister and the two RJD leaders and at their behest allowed the accused to be taken to Gaya on Friday last instead of bringing him to Patna.

The SI, Ramakant Ram, brought the matter to the notice of the Gaya SP, Ravindran Shankaran, when he feared for the life of the accused after three days of torture.

The role of a couple of other police officials of the Kotwali police station and that of the Minister's personal assistant, Mohan Shrivastava, and Bachcha Rai, an associate of Pappu Yadav, was also being investigated in lodging a complaint against Atul Prakash — of duping them of Rs. 5 lakhs.

The Leader of Opposition, S.K. Modi, alleged that the amount involved was Rs. 5 crores and that this was part of the fodder scam money. He claimed that Atul Prakash happened to be the son of a fodder scam accused, P.N. Sinha, and demanded a CBI probe into the whole affair.

According to sources, the CBI and the IT were also said to be looking into the matter to see if the fodder scam money was actually the cause for the entire episode.