Minister's meeting convict Shahabuddin rocks Bihar Assembly

Patna, Mar 9: Bihar Minister Abdul Gafoor's visit to Siwan jail to meet imprisoned RJD strongman Mohammad Shahabuddin rocked the state Assembly today, with opposition BJP demanding his resignation.

Gafoor, the Minority Affairs Minister, however, refused to quit saying he did not commit any crime by meeting a former party MP in jail and he would go and meet Shahabuddin again if he got a chance.

Mohammad Shahabuddin

As the House sat for the day, BJP members, supported by NDA allies RLSP, LJP and Hindustani Awam Morcha, demanded that the House take up the issue first before everything else. Leader of Opposition Prem Kumar made the demand to Speaker Vijay Chaudhary who continued with the Question hour.

NDA legislators then trooped into the well of the House shouting slogans against the government. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was not present in the House at that time, but his deputy Tejaswi Yadav was there. The Speaker carried on with the Question hour for 15 minutes amidst pandemonium and then ordered adjournment till post-lunch session.

Prem Kumar said the Minister going to Siwan jail to meet a convict has sullied image of Bihar and hence he should quit and if he does not do so, the Chief Minister should dismiss him. Gafoor and RJD MLA Harishankar Yadav paid a visit to Shahabuddin in Siwan jail on Sunday.

A photograph of the three in the jail has gone viral on social media. Lodged in Siwan jail since 2005 in several cases of murder and kidnapping, Shahabuddin has been convicted by Siwan court in eight cases and was sentenced to life in two.

The Chief Minister has ordered an enquiry into the issue. Later, talking to reporters outside the House, Prem Kumar demanded a probe by a retired High Court judge into the event to bring to light how rules were violated to facilitate the meeting with the Minister and an RJD MLA Shahabuddin in jail.

The opposition leader also hit out at RJD president Lalu Prasad for describing the meeting as "courtesy" and justifying their sharing snacks during the meeting. "Lalu Prasad, whose party is the largest constituent of the Grand Secular Alliance government wishes to take Bihar back to days of 'jungle raj'," he said.

Even as the NDA was gunning for his head, Gafoor, an RJD MLA, stuck a defiant posture and ruled out quitting.

"It was a courtesy meeting with Shahabuddin who has been MP from the party for long. I did not commit any crime in meeting him. So why should I resign?" he told reporters. Stating that he did not violate any jail manual and did not carry mobile phone inside the jail, Gafoor said, "I will meet him (Shahabuddin) again if I get a chance."


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