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Did Bihar law minister skip court warrant in abduction case on oath day? Nitish claims ignorance

RJD minister Kartikeya Singh says court ordered no coercive action against him till 1 September. BJP claims CM Nitish Kumar allowed induction of 'tainted' ministers.

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Patna: Bihar’s new law minister, Kartik Singh, began his tenure on a controversial note when he was sworn in Tuesday — a day when he was allegedly due to present himself in court. Singh, a Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader, is facing an arrest warrant in connection with a case of alleged kidnapping. 

Singh has claimed, however, that he did not appear because the Danapur court had granted him relief till 1 September, saying that no coercive action ought to be taken against him until then.

The case in question relates to the alleged kidnapping of one Rajiv Ranjan in 2014, in which Kartik Singh and former RJD legislator Anant Singh are named as accused. According to an arrest warrant issued on 14 July, he had to surrender before the court by 16 August, the day he took the oath as a state minister.

According to his election affidavit, the RJD leader faces four criminal cases related to kidnapping, theft, damage to public property, extortion, and several other crimes. 

In his own defence, the minister claimed that he had obtained a no-coercive-action order in the kidnapping case from the Danapur sessions court on 12 August.

“I didn’t appear before the court because of the relief given to me,” he told ThePrint, claiming that his political opponents were spreading misleading news about him. “I have all the cases pending against me in the affidavit; I have nothing to say.”

The RJD Member of the Legislative Council (MLC) also claimed that he had a Patna High Court order which states that the victim had not named him in his statement given under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. 

Speaking to ThePrint, victim Rajiv Ranjan’s lawyer Amar Jyoti Sharma said, “Kartik Singh had moved the Patna High Court in 2017 seeking anticipatory bail in the case, but the court rejected it in its order dated 16 February, 2017. He then moved the high court to get the case against him quashed, but it was dismissed by the court of justice Satyavrat Varma on 7 July, 2022.”

The lawyer added that the Danapur court in Patna district “issued an arrest warrant against Kartik Singh on 14 July this year. He has neither been arrested, nor has he surrendered till now. In a way, he is an absconder.”

The development has put Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on the defensive, with the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) claiming that the episode marked the return of ‘Jungle Raj(a term used for the allegedly corrupt and lawless rule of the RJD) in Bihar.

On Wednesday, CM Nitish Kumar expressed ignorance about the development. “I have no knowledge about it,” he told the media before he got into a car at the end of a government function. Nitish also holds the crucial home portfolio.

But former deputy chief minister and BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi went all out to attack Nitish. “How could Nitish Kumar allow the induction of tainted persons like Kartik Singh, Surendar Prasad Yadav, Lalit Kumar Yadav and Ramanand Yadav into his ministry. Nitishji would not have allowed it before,” the senior BJP leader told The Print.

According to the Association for Democratic Reforms and the Bihar Election Watch, 23 ministers (72 per cent) have declared criminal cases against themselves and 17 ministers (53 per cent) have declared serious criminal cases against themselves. 

Also Read: Nitish keeps home & vigilance, but here’s why Bihar cabinet expansion shows CM’s weakening heft

‘Don’s business partner’, RJD’s ‘Bhumihar candidate’

Kartik Singh is a close associate of Anant Singh, a don-turned-politician who was elected from Mokama on an RJD ticket in the 2020 assembly election. Anant Singh was, however, disqualified from the assembly following his conviction in an arms recovery case, for which he was sentenced to 10 years in jail. 

Together with his late elder brother Dilip Singh, Anant Singh was a powerful baahubali (strongman) in the Mokama Tal area, and both Nitish and RJD supremo Lalu Prasad had wooed him for his influence in the constituency.

“Kartik Singh began his career as a schoolteacher in Anant Singh’s village, and was therefore called ‘master’ by the locals. He became the don’s business partner. He has gone to jail once,” a leader of the Janata Dal (United) (JD(U)) told ThePrint. 

Kartik Singh’s inclusion in the Bihar cabinet as part of the Bihar candidate had raised many eyebrows. JD(U) sources claimed that party national president Lalan Singh had opposed the induction because of his allegedly bitter rivalry with Anant Singh. 

But RJD second-in-command and Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav had decided on Kartik Singh because the party did not have another candidate from the Bhumihar community, sources said.

The latest episode comes close on the heels of the “special treatment” given to convicted gangster-turned-politician Anand Mohan Singh when he appeared at a Patna court on 12 August. Mohan is serving a rigorous life term for killing the then Gopalganj district magistrate G. Krishnaiah in 1994.

Social media was abuzz after several photos went viral showing Mohan visiting his house at Patliputra Colony and holding a meeting with his wife and former Vaishali MP Lovely Anand and son Chetan Anand, who is an RJD MLA. Subsequently, six police personnel were suspended and departmental proceedings were initiated against them.

(Edited by Tony Rai)

Also Read: Operation Lantern fails to light up in Bihar. And BJP in search of a Brahmin face in UP


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