“Jungle raj” is not a trend created by fake twitter handles. It is also not a metaphor fabricated by the intellectuals sitting inside the TV studios. It is the raw emotion which conceals the fear of ‘hunt or get hunted’. Everyone living in Bihar in the 1990s has his own way to define those dreadful years. I prefer to choose below lines written by the novelist China Mieville to word my emotion:
“In the deepest places, where physical norms collapse under the crushing water, bodies still fall softly through the dark, days after their vessels have capsized. They decay on their long journey down. Nothing will hit the black sand at the bottom of the world but algae-covered bones”
Jungle raj is associated with the state of utter lawlessness in Bihar during the tenure of Lalu Yadav and his wife Rabri Devi. There was a nexus of politicians, government officials, businessmen and other entities. The whole nexus was end to end tied on by the notorious criminals who used to keep checks and balances. Mohammad Shahabuddin was one of such criminals.
Murders happen usually everywhere in the world. Nature kills people, diseases kill people even Judiciary kills people. However, the sheer ruthlessness by which Shahabuddin used to execute these murders was horrendous. One such example was the murder of 9 JD (U) workers in Siwan immediately after 2004 general election results. In spite of the fact that Shahabuddin won the election by more than 1 lac votes, the close associates of the nearest candidate Om Prakash Yadav of JD (U) were murdered only for putting a credible fight. A report by the People’s union for civil liberties stated: “The patronage and defacto immunity from legal action offered to him by the RJD government gradually made him a law unto himself giving him an aura of invincibility. Shahabuddin’s reign of terror was so complete that nobody dared depose against him in cases in which he was an accused.”
After the 2005 Bihar election, When National Democratic Alliance came to the power in Bihar, Nitish Kumar set up a number of special courts for trying criminal Dons.
Out of 34 criminal cases pending against him, Shahabuddin was awarded life sentence for the kidnapping and murder of two brothers in Siwan.
With the conviction of criminals like Shahabuddin and improving law and order of the state under NDA govt, the horror of Jungle Raj was gradually fading in People’s memory.
The win of RJD- led Mahagathbandhan in 2015 state election in Bihar with RJD emerging as the largest party sent some very cold signals in the social circles of Bihar. Even though Nitish was proposed as the leader of the alliance, everyone was knowing where the actual control would be. Lalu cleared his intention by appointing his son as Deputy chief Minister.
One of the other things Lalu did following this win which didn’t see much traction in the media was the elevation of Shahabuddin in RJD ranks. Shahabuddin was included in the RJD’s national executive committee along with Rabri Devi, Tejashwi Yadav, Misa Bharti & Tej Pratap Yadav. Shahabuddin’s elevation in the RJD clearly underlined that the Don may be barred from contesting election but he will continue to be in power. The criminals who were feeling empowered after Mahagathbandhan’s win in state election took it as the morale booster. The dreaded and lost criminal-politician nexus in Bihar was set the tone for revival. The recent back to back murders are the testimony to that.
The murdered journalist, Rajdeo Ranjan had over 20 years of experience in journalism and was the district bureau chief of the most popular daily ‘Hindustan’ in Bihar. In recent times, there were at least four news reports which Rajdeo had published against Shahabuddin. The latest was the leaking of the picture where Bihar Minister Abdul Gafoor was seen dining with Shahabuddin inside the Siwan jail in March this year. Just a couple of days before being killed, Ranjan had filed a news report on how police have taken remand of Shahabuddin’s sharp shooter “Chawanni Singh” to make headway in one of the murder cases.
“The fineness and professionalism through which Rajdeo was murdered clearly state the involvement of a professional gang,” said Siwan SP. Two people who worked for the former Siwan MP had been detained by the police. The police are further investigating the role of Shahabuddin in the alleged murder.
While the killing of Aditya Sachdeva in Gaya for the trivial reason of overtaking a politician’s son speaks volume about the Gunda-Raaj prevailed in the state, the killing of a journalist Rajdeo Ranjan in Siwan indicates the emerging pattern of Jungle-Raaj. The return of Shahabuddin at the helm of affairs in RJD and following that the attack on the journalist who was on the hit list of the Don in broad daylight undertones the helplessness of Nitish Kumar as a chief minister.
The unique selling point for criminals during Jungle- Raaj was to instill fear in the common masses in such a way that they did not dare to raise their voice against the crimes. The systemic elimination of dissidents used to give the free run to the criminals who were blessed by their political bosses. The recent murder of the Journalist is on the similar lines. The fear is gripping Bihar and Shahabuddin is all set to play the lead role again.
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