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Oppn calls for Bihar bandh
JD(U) MLA held for assaulting scribes
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, November 1
Popularly known as “Chote sarkar” in his fiefdom, the ruling JD(U) MLA from Mokama Anant Singh was among five arrested by the police today for assaulting three television journalists at his Mall road residence in Patna.

The Patna chief jusicial magistrate subsequently remanded Anant Singh and his four associates in judicial custody till November 13. They were sent to high security Beur jail.

Even though today’s shocking episode was yet another glaring example of the legacy of lawlessness in Bihar, the decision by the Nitish government to put its own party MLA behind the bars within hours of the incident was second such example of its apparent administrative boldness in the memorable past.

Another JD(U) MLA Sunil Pandey was arrested last year on charges of a drunken brawl at a city hotel. Later suspended from the party, Pandey, an MLA from Piro, was now languishing in the jail. Pandey too then had threatened a TV cameraman with dire consequences for daring to shoot his drunken brawl.

Prakash Singh and Habib Ali of NDTV 24X7 and Ajay Kumar of ANI had gone to the MLA’s residence today to get his version on the recovery of a sack containing a woman’s body, reportedly identified as Reshma Khatoon, from the state capital. The MLA’s involvement was suspected in the case.

A news carried by a local daily today also claimed that the woman, allegedly being molested by the MLA recently, apprehended threat to her life.

Besides puting his own party MLA behind the bars for his alleged unlawful acts, Chief Minister Niitsh Kumar also decided to hand over the probe into the mysterious death of the girl to the CBI.

Talking to a delegation of media at his residence, Nitish categorically stated that no one was above the law. His deputy Sushil Modi also ruled out any political protection to Anant Singh. “Law will take its own course”, both Nitish and Modi said while assuring a logical conclusion to the case.

Known as a history sheeter, Anant Singh has two-dozen cases of crimes registered against him. He won from the Mokama seat in 2005, soon after he was released from Buxar jail.

Incidentally, Anant Singh had hit the headlines in the past after he had purchased the horse that once belonged to RJD supremo Lalu Prasad from the Asia famous Sonepur cattle fair last year. Lalu reportedly was forced to put his favourite horse on sale due to space problem at his present 10 Circular road residence after he had to vacate 1 Aney Marg for Nitish.

Meanwhile, describing Anant Singh as a criminal-turned-politican proteted by the JD(U), the opposition RJD has called for a state-wide bandh tomorrow against the attack on journalists.

Describing the attack on the mediapersons as an assault on the freedom of the Press, the leader of the oposition Rabri Devi also demanded a CBI probe into the incident. She today visited the Gardanibagh hospital where injured mediapersons were being treated.

Narrating his harrowing experience, Prakash Singh of NDTV 24X7 told the media that while initially the MLA was willing to give his version of the story, as soon as he saw that a report being aired showing him in poor light in the case he lost his temper.” The MLA got angry when I approached him for his reaction and hurled abuses and beat me and Habib Ali with rifle butts and batons. Some of his henchmen too joined in,” Prakash said.

What reportedly followed next was a shameless display of MLA’s executive power and a mockery of the law of land. Even the vehicles belonging to them were smashed.

Somehow cameraman Ali managed to escape and went to the house of director-general of police Ashish Ranjan Sinha located nearby.

On being informed that the journalists had been assaulted and illegally confined at the house of the MLA, the sentry on duty at the DGP‘s house asked Ali to file a written complaint. Ali then rushed to the nearby Sachivalaya police station to file the FIR.

Folowing the FIR, a team headed by DSP Shridha Mandal rescued the reporters after about an hour of their captivity at MLA’s residence .

Showing solidarity to the fellow journalists and raising their voice against the political high handiness against free Press, almost entire media in Patna later converged at the MLA’s house demanding his immediate arrest.

But to their shock even they were also threatened by guns and lathi-brandishing goons of the MLA.

Despite being put behind the bars, before moving into the prison van the seemingly unfazed “bahubali” MLA Anant Singh reportedly threatened to eliminate NDTV correspondent Prakash from inside the jail itself.

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