Siwas is a district in western Bihar connected to the UP border. Once, it was popular because of India’s first President, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, who was born in Jiradei, Siwan. His wisdom, role in the Independence movement, and post as the first President made the district a prominent place. However, today, Siwan is notoriously famous because of the crime, gang wars, muscle power, and dominance of criminals in politics.
It is a well-known fact that money and muscle power plays a vital role in Bihar elections. As the state elections are not too far, the impact of money and muscle power is becoming more evident in the state. As parties are distributing tickets, the Bahubalis are marking their presence along with their supporters. There are two notorious Bahubalis who are popular in the district and have become the centre of discussion. On one side, it is Mohammad Shahabuddin alias ‘Chote Sarkar’ of Siwan. On the other side, there is Ajay Singh, whose wife Kavita Singh defeated Shahabuddin’s wife in the Lok Sabha elections. Kavita is currently serving as an MP of Siwan.
Lalu Prasad’s ‘Jungle Raj’ and Shahabuddin’s status in the region
If someone writes the story of how Bihar was ruined and stayed backward, there will be a long chapter on the role of Lalu Prasad Yadav’s ‘Jungle Raj’. During his tenure, the fear of Shahabuddin was at the peak in the state. Shahabuddin, along with his henchmen, was considered to be above the law. They openly did whatever they liked, and no one ever dared to touch them. No one in the Siwan region ever dared to go against him.
Shahabuddin was fearless because of the backing he got from Lalu Yadav, and in return, he made sure Lalu got votes in the elections. While for Shahabuddin Lalu Yadav was everything, Lalu considered Shahabuddin to be the foundation of his political career. During that time, kidnapping, extortion, and murder of businessmen were widespread. As Lalu provided full support and cover to Shahabuddin, he made life impossible not only for the residents of Siwan but Bihar as a whole. People used to shiver with fear on hearing his name.
In the 1980s, politics in Siwan was ruled by criminals. Shahabuddin was named in several crimes in the 1980s, after which he entered politics and became MLA twice and MP four times. That was when his name made headlines in every notable crime in Siwan, including the infamous acid attack and murder of Chandrashekhar. Shahabuddin, the ‘Chote Sarkar’ of Siwan, ruled every hospital, school, bank and office in the district.
First case against Shahabuddin in 1986 when he was 19
Shahabuddin has been accused of several crimes, including murder, kidnapping, extortion, pose possessing deadly weapons and rioting. His name started to appear in criminal cases at the age of 19. The case was registered at a police station in Siwan.
Before he joined politics, Shahabuddin was popular as Bahubali. As per the records, the FIR was registered at the Hussainganj police station in Siwan district in 1986. Because of his criminal background, people started to avoid taking his name out of fear. During the time he contested elections, no one dared to put up the flags of opposite contestants in the Siwan city.
His fear had gripped the region to a level where people started to avoid spending money on them. All members of the family would not get jobs. Traders stopped buying new vehicles. Showing any sign of prosperity meant that they had to pay extortion money in the form of ‘tax’ to Shahabuddin. If anyone refused to pay him, death was inevitable. People even started to put up his posters at their homes to show solidarity to him.
As time passed by, he became the most wanted criminal of Siwan. He has 56 cases more than his age registered against him. He has been convicted in six of these cases. Currently, he is facing life imprisonment for kidnapping and murder of Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Liberation party worker Chhotalal Gupta.
In 2003, he was arrested for the kidnapping of a CPI-ML party worker in 1999. However, he started living in Siwan District Hospital with an excuse of health issues. He prepared for 2004 elections from the hospital in which he managed to defeat the Janata Dal (United) candidate by more than three lakh votes.
After the election results came out, his supporters killed eight JDU party workers and beat many activists. They also attacked Omprakash Yadav, the JD(U) candidate, but he narrowly escaped, but many of his supporters were killed. After the incident, 34 cases were registered against Mohammad Shahabuddin in several police stations in Bihar.
Lal Yadav’s support and political debut
There is no shortage of criminals who joined politics in India. Shahabuddin also chose to become a politician. He first came into the limelight in the political arena when he became a member of the youth unit of Janata Dal under the patronage of Lalu Prasad Yadav. As soon as he joined a member of Janata Dal, his true colors started to reveal. In 1990 he got an assembly ticket and won.
His journey to Lok Sabha in 1996
In 1995, he again won the elections. Based on his growing strength, the party decided to give him a Lok Sabha ticket in 1996. He also won the election and became a Member of the Parliament. When Lalu Decided to form Rashtriya Janata Dal in 1997, Shahabuddin got a high position in the party. With his help, RJD increased its status and reached Bihar quickly. In return, Shahabuddin’s hold on the state became stronger.
The police force became a mute spectator
A report of the ‘People’s Union’ for Civil Liberties in the states in 2001 revealed that the RJD government was patronizing Shahabuddin. He was getting protection and support from the government during the legal proceedings. The report also suggested that despite of the criminal activities of Shahabuddin, police stood as a mute spectator. There was no action or FIR on him out of his fear.
Police officers got abused and slapped
Shahabuddin got so intoxicated with power that he started targeting the police officers. There were reports that he and his goons assaulted several police officers. In one such case, he even fired shots at police officers. In a recent case, Vikas Dubey killed eight police officers in Uttar Pradesh that shook the country but during Shahabuddin’s time, such cases were common. He had killed several police officers, and no actions were taken against him.
In March 2001, a police team led by SP BS Meera arrived at RJD local president Manoj Kumar Pappu with a warrant against him. Shahabuddin slapped the arresting officer Sanjeev Kumar. In that encounter, eight people were killed, including two police officers.
The incident shook the Bihar Police. They took immediate action and called the State Task Force and Uttar Pradesh Police for support. Their teams surrounded the village and house of Mohammad Shahabuddin and attacked him. Several rounds were fired from both sides resulting in many deaths, including police officers. Police vehicles were set on fire. However, after the encounter, Shahabuddin managed to escape and fled to Nepal.
It is believed that he regularly treated the police officers in a very derogatory manner that irked the department resulting in the said operation. However, Shahabuddin’s dominance in the state showed its color within a day, and all the senior officers in the district, including Meena, were transferred by the then-Rabri Devi government.
Though Shahabuddin was not arrested in operation, but the police revered a cache of weapons, including AK-47, from his house during the raid. Shahabuddin vowed to kill the SP as revenge and said that he would chase him even if he had to go to Rajasthan, SP’s home state.
Shot SP SK Singhal in 1996, sentenced to 10 years
Recently, IPS officer SK Singhal took charge of DGP Bihar after DGP Gupteshwar Pandey took Voluntary Retirement (CRS) from his post. He is the same IPS officer of 1998 rank who was attacked by Shahabuddin in Kathan 24 years ago. On the day of Lok Sabha elections in 1996, Shahabuddin fired shots on then-SP SK Singhal, who came to arrest him for creating menace at a polling booth. Shahabuddin himself fired several shots on Singhal, and he had to escape from the scene to save his life.
Singhal did not take the case lightly and used his position and law to teach a lesson to Shahabuddin, who was contesting the election to become a Union Minister at that time. As a result, he was sentenced to ten years in jail. He was also convicted in the Acid Attack case in which he was awarded life imprisonment. As of now, he is in jail since 2005.
DP Ojha gathered evidence against Shahabuddin in 2003
For a long time, Shahabuddin received political patronage from RJD President Lalu Yadav. However, in 2003, DP Ojha became DGP of the state, and he started to collect evidence against Shahabuddin. He reopened several cases against him.
Those cases were also reviewed that were handled by CID. A warrant was issued against Shahabuddin in the case of kidnapping and murder of activist Munna Chaudhary, after which he had to surrender in court. As soon as he surrendered, the state politics started to play its role, and seeing the matter getting out of hand; the state government removed DP Ojha from the post of DGP.
Shahabuddin’s relations with ISI and recovery of Pakistan-made weapons from his home
DP Ojha, then-DGP of Bihar, in a 100-page report about Shahabuddin, established his link to ISI. The report became a hot topic of discussion across the country. In April 2005, Siwan’s then-SP Ratan Sanjay and DM CK Anil raided Shahabuddin’s house in Pratappur. They recovered several Pakistan-made weapons, including AK-47, which were used only in the military.
They also recovered night vision goggles and laser-guided guns. The weapons had stamps of Pakistan Ordinance Factory. After the incident, the tension prevailed in the district for several months. During that period, the task force remained active to control the situation. Shahabuddin was well connected to not only Kashmir terrorist organizations but also with ISI and Dawood Ibrahim.
Accused of killing JNU student union president
In March 1997, Chandrasekhar, then-president of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union, was holding a ‘Nukkad Sabha’ in Siwan. He was shot dead, and a close aide of Shahabuddin, Rustam Mian, was convicted for the murder.
The court of Shahabuddin
Shahabuddin’s influence on society was increasing quickly. With the rise in political protection, his influence in the Siwan region became prominently visible. His court was one of the highlights during the period when he was at his peak. He was running a parallel government in Siwan district until the early 2000s.
He used to give decisions, just like a court. Due to his fear, people were forced to accept whatever he says. From settlement in land dispute to the fees of doctors was decided by Shahabuddin. In 2004, just eight months before the Lok Sabha elections, he was arrested in the case of 1999 kidnapping and alleged murder of a CPI-ML worker.
The one who got beaten up by Shahabuddin publicly defeated him twice
Shahabuddin was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2007 for kidnapping and murder. After he got convicted in a criminal case, the Election Commission banned him from contesting elections. Thus, he could not contest the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. RJD gave a ticket to his wife, Heena Shahab, in 2009 and 2014. However, she got defeated by independent candidate Om Prakash Yadav by 60,000 votes.
Later in 2014, Om Prakash Yadav contested elections from the BJP ticket and again defeated Heena by more than one lakh voted. This was the same Om Prakash who was once beaten publicly by Shahabuddin. Heena Shahab is currently a national executive member of RJD.
Killed two brothers with acid
In 2004, two brothers were killed by acid bath in Pratappur village. They were sons of Chanda Babu. The incident revealed the nexus between the criminals and police as the police asked the family of Chanda Babu to go somewhere else rather than taking action against the killers.
Three sons of the same family were murdered for 10-12 feet piece of land. In the first week of August 2004, some anti-social elements tried to capture a shop in an under-construction house that belonged to Chanda Babu, resident of Gaushala Road, Siwan. During that time, two brothers were brutally murdered by pouring acid on them.
The third brother, who was an eyewitness of the murder of two brothers, was killed before he could register his statement in the court. The case shook the nation, and the role of the police was heavily criticized. The case went to a special court, and Shahabuddin was awarded life imprisonment. It was only after the formation of a government under Nitish Kumar that Shahabuddin was jailed.
The Patna High Court also upheld the life sentence in the murder of two brothers. The judgment was challenged in the Supreme Court, where the decision of the High Court was upheld. This is not the only case that made him popular as a notorious criminal. There were several cases registered against him. However, many people did not file any complaint out of fear.
Murder of a journalist, murder of a communist leader, slapping a police officer, firing on the police force, hoarding Pakistani weapons at home, threatening jailer and judge, money extortion, kidnapping and several other cases are the ‘gems’ of his long career as a criminal. He used to have his courts and political patronization made him one of the most dangerous criminals in Bihar.
There are stories of his posh lifestyle in jail that are also popular. It was because of Nitish Kumar that he was sentenced to jail. However, when Nitish formed a government with Lalu in 2015, he was granted bail. After coming out from jail in 2016, a convoy of 1300 vehicles accompanied him to Siwan.
He openly called Lalu Yadav as his leader and said that Nitish is a ‘leader of circumstances’. His wife continues to contest the election after he went to jail. Shahabuddin will be one of the major issues in the upcoming elections.
How close Shahabuddin is to Lalu Yadav becomes evident by the fact that RJD made his wife Heena Shahab their candidate in 2019 elections, too though she never won any election. During a meeting, Lalu Yadav admitted that he had a telephonic conversation with him during his stay in Siwan.
Punishment in these 8 cases
- Sentenced to life imprisonment in 2007 in Chhotalal kidnapping case
- Sentenced to 10 years in 2008 for possessing foreign pistols
- In 1996 SP SK Singhal was shot dead, sentenced to 10 years
- Male office was attacked in 1998, sentenced to two years
- Sentenced to 3 years in the kidnapping case of government servant Rajnarayan in 2011
- Stolen bike recovered, sentenced to 3 years
- Got one year sentence for threatening a police officer at Jiradei station
- Life sentence for Siwan acid attack
Even the Nitish Kumar administration is not free of Bahubalis. Several leaders of Janata Dal (United) were Bahubalis, but they did not get political protection to that extent. Nitish always allowed the law to work at its own pace and refused to interfere in any investigation involving his party MLAs. As a result, several high profile Bahubali leaders like Sunil Pandey and Anant Singh left his party.