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Gangster-turned-politician Anand Mohan walks out of jail amidst protests

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PATNA/SAHARSA, April 27 (PTI): Gangster-turned-politician Anand Mohan, who was serving a life sentence for killing an IAS officer in Bihar three decades ago, walked out on Thursday amid protests by family members and well-wishers of the slain bureaucrat.

Mohan, who had been an MP prior to his conviction in 2007, was released from Saharsa jail on Thursday morning after being behind the bars for 15 years.

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The gangster-turned-politician’s supporters who believe that their leader was “framed” in the murder of G Krishnaiah, the then district magistrate of Gopalganj,had planned a celebratory procession but the release was done in a manner which precluded any such gathering.

Krishnaiah, who hailed from Telangana and was from a scheduled caste, was beaten to death by a mob in 1994 when his vehicle tried to overtake a funeral procession in Muzaffarpur district.

Mohan, who was the sitting MLA from Mahishi, was leading the procession taken out upon the death of his close associate Chhotan Shukla, another dreaded gangster who fell to bullets of his rivals before realizing his political ambitions.

Mohan’s name figured in a list of more than 20 prisoners who were ordered to be set free by a notification issued by the state law department earlier this week as they had spent more than 14 years behind bars.

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His remission of sentence followed an April 10 amendment of Bihar Prison Manual by the Nitish Kumar government whereby the restriction on early release of those involved in killing of a public servant on duty was done away with.

This, critics claim was done to help release Mohan.

The relaxation has predictably been opposed by the wife and daughter of Krishnaiah. They have appealed to the Bihar government to reconsider the move, which has also drawn condemnation from the IAS Officers’ Association.

Red-faced over the controversy, the government got chief secretary Amir Subhani to address a press conference and assert that the release was in accordance with norms.

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“No special favour has been done to anybody. The prison rules are amended from time to time, in the normal course. The clause about government servant on duty was dropped because it was found to be discriminatory. Moreover, we found no other state treating such killings differently,” Subhani claimed.

He said that the State Sentence Remission Board, which includes two members of the judiciary, has received 1,061 clemency petitions in the last six years during which it has met 22 times.

“Release of 698 prisoners has been approved, based on the feedback on conduct of the inmates received from authorities concerned.

“This is besides special pardons given to first-time offenders, who are serving jail terms of 10 years. Such prisoners are freed on occasions like Gandhi Jayanti, Republic Day and Independence Day,” Subhani said.

He pointed out that Mohan had spent 15 years, nine months and 25 days in prison but parried questions as to whether aggrieved family members of Krishnaiah were given an opportunity to raise objections against his release.

When some journalists asked whether alleged recovery of mobile phones from the possession of Mohan in 2021 was taken into account while certifying his good conduct in jail, the chief secretary said he was not aware of such a charge against the former MP.

Subhani also urged that there should be “no politicization” of the issue.

Opponents of the ruling ‘Mahagathbandhan’ have accused the regime of wrong doing.

Some leaders of the BJP, the principal opposition in the state, were categorical in their condemnation of Mohan’s release.

However, the party, which draws its primary support from among the upper castes, also seemed to be wary of annoying the Rajputs. Especially, as Mohan enjoyed a Robinhood-like image in his heydays.

Upper caste leaders like Union Minister Giriraj Singh, former union minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy and ex-state minister Neeraj Kumar Singh Bablu have gone on record saying that they have “no problem with the release of Anand Mohan” but alleged “many other criminals have been freed alongside for political gains”.

The allusion has been to the fact that more than half of the prisoners released vide the order dated April 24 are Yadavs or Muslims, who are said to be supporters of the RJD, the largest constituent of the ‘Mahagathbandhan’.

Meanwhile, Mohan’s wife Lovely Anand, a former MP herself, expressed relief over his release for which she profusely thanked Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

She maintained that her husband, who was awarded death penalty by the trial court which got commuted to imprisonment for life by the High Court, was “innocent”.

“We are pained by the brutal manner in which an honest officer like G Krishnaiah was killed. I fully empathise with the suffering of his wife. But my husband was not even present at the site of the incident. Had he been there, he would have tried to save Krishnaiah even at the cost of his own life,” she added.

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