CBI was today directed to proceed with its probe into the murder of journalist Rajdev Ranjan by the Supreme Court which asked the Bihar police to provide protection to his family that has claimed threat to life from controversial RJD leader Shahabuddin.
A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and C Nagappan also sought the response of Shahabuddin, Bihar’s health minister and RJD supremo Lalu Prasad’s son Tej Pratap Yadav and Bihar government on a petition by Ranjan’s wife who has also sought transfer of the case from Siwan in Bihar to Delhi.
The RJD chief’s son was seen in a photograph published in newspapers with one of the two sharp shooters of alleged gangster Shahabuddin.
“In view of that, we direct that the CBI may proceed with the investigation but not finalise it and shall file the status report before this Court on October 17,” the bench said, adding “Superintendent of Police, Siwan district, shall provide police protection to the petitioner and her family.”
The counsel for Ranjan’s wife Asha Ranjan claimed before the bench that CBI has not even started its probe into the case due to “political influence” and “fear of Shahabuddin” as the state machinery was protecting the history sheeter, against whom there were 58 criminal cases according to Bihar government’s 2014 affidavit in the apex court.
When the counsel said the case should be transferred to Delhi, the bench said “CBI shall continue the investigation there. Eventually, after hearing them, we may consider whether to transfer the case. There is no trial as of now. Let them investigate.”
The counsel told the court that five persons were arrested by Bihar Police in connection with the case, but the two alleged sharp shooters of Shahabuddin were not.
“CBI did not dare to take up the investigation in the case due to fear of Shahabuddin. Two sharp shooters, Md Kaif and Mohd Javed, were seen with Shahabuddin and Health Minister of Bihar Tej Pratap Yadav. Entire state machinery is protecting Shahabuddin,” he alleged. Kaif surrendered before a Siwan court two days ago.
He said that Rajdev, a journalist, had written various stories about the “criminal deeds” of Shahabuddin and after RJD-JD(U) alliance came to power in Bihar, he was shot dead.
“Terror of Shahabuddin was so high that even the trial judge, who had convicted him in one of the case, has requested for transfer from Siwan to Patna,” he alleged while seeking transfer of the case from Siwan to Delhi.
Reacting to the apex court’s notice, Tej Pratap today said in Patna that similar notices should have been issued against BJP leaders also whose photographs had appeared with a suspect in the case and other criminals.
Asha’s counsel Kislay Panday also said an FIR should be registered against Shahabuddin and Tej Pratap for allegedly “harbouring and sheltering” Kaif and Javed, who were declared as proclaimed offenders in the case in which “hapless and helpless widow” ran from pillar to post for justice.
He said Kaif has surrendered before the police but Javed has not been arrested so far.
Panday said that Asha and two children of the slain journalist have been compelled to live in constant fear after Shahabuddin was released from Jail.
If the probe and trial of the case was conducted in Bihar, Shahabuddin and others would “terrorise the witnesses” due to which they would not get any justice, he contended.
In its order, the bench referred to submissions advanced by the counsel which said, “criminalisation of politics have been heavily commented upon and deprecated by this court in many a decision…and case at hand depicts a disturbing affair in that regard, for Shahabuddin and Tej Pratap, though (they) hold party position and position in the political executive, yet do not even think for a moment before associating themselves with such kind of anti-social elements and, in fact, sometimes render assistance.”
The bench said “on perusal of the petition, it is prima facie discernible that the petitioner who lives with two small children, after losing her husband and the developments that have taken place in District Siwan, is in a state of continuous fear.”
“It has been said that courage is the mother of all virtues and a man with courage can always sustain his or her dignity. But, sometimes, situations are created by certain powerful protagonists which instill fear in the mind of a citizen and that fear has the potentiality to usher in atrophy to the sense of dignity.
“It is also asserted in the petition that in the obtaining fact situation, this Court may direct for giving her protection by the competent authority failing which it is difficult to fathom, what kind of danger shall visit her,” the bench noted.
Regarding the prayer for police protection, the bench asked SP Siwan and the concerned police station to provide protection to Ranjan’s family.
“The Superintendent of Police Siwan District shall provide police protection to the petitioner and her family. The concerned Station House Officer of Nagar Thana shall also see that the protection is given. We have directed both the Superintendent of Police and the Station House Officer so that the petitioner, a lady in distress, shall feel protected,” the bench said.
Asha had moved Supreme Court seeking transfer of probe and trial in the case to Delhi alleging that media photos had shown two absconding killers of her husband in the company of Shahabuddin and Tej Pratap Yadav.
She had sought reliefs including a direction to CBI to take up the investigation forthwith in view of the fact that the proclaimed offenders, Mohd Kaif and Mohd Javed, have been spotted with Shahabuddin and the state Health Minister, where several cops were also present. Kaif surrendered in a Siwan district court of Siwan on September 21.
The scribe, working with a vernacular daily, was shot dead on the evening of May 13 in Siwan town by some sharp- shooters allegedly at the instance of then jailed RJD leader, the plea alleged, adding that despite being named by family of the journalist, Siwan police did not name Shahabuddin in the FIR as a key conspirator.
It also alleged that the RJD leader was irked over some reports by the slain journalist on the issue of murder of three sons of Chandrakeshwar Prasad. Shahabuddin has been convicted and awarded life term in one of the cases.
Shahabuddin, who was granted bail by the Patna High Court on September 7, was released from Bhagalpur jail on September 10. He was in jail for 11 years in connection with dozens of cases against him.