Surrounded by friends and media persons at her Jubilee Hills residence in Hyderabad, T Uma Devi, wife of 1985 Bihar cadre IAS officer G Krishnaiah, who was lynched in 1994 in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district, wondered whether all the media coverage would amount to anything.
She was reacting to the Bihar government’s decision to prematurely release the prime convict in the Krishnaiah murder case — gangster-turned-MP Anand Mohan Singh — a decision against which his 1985 IAS batch officers are now planning to move the Supreme Court.
At the time of incident, Krishnaiah, a Dalit officer, was posted as the district magistrate of Gopalganj district.
“Nobody is there to feel our pain or listen to us except his batch officers. Whatever decision the IAS Officers Association will take, we are with them,” 63-year-old Uma Devi, a retired chemistry professor at the Government Degree College for Women at Begumpet, told South First.
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How was Anand Mohan released?
The Bihar government tweaked the 2012 State Prison Manual on 10 April to amend the clause where anyone accused of “murder of a public servant on duty” wasn’t eligible for premature release.
Fourteen days later, on 24 April, it notified the release of 27 prisoners, including Rajput strongman Anand Mohan, serving a life sentence in Saharsa jail.
Calling Mohan’s release a travesty of justice and the “second killing” of Krishnaiah, his batchmate and retired IAS officer Sanjeev Chopra told South First that the 70 officers of the 1985 batch plan to file an “application” in the Supreme Court against the Bihar government order in the coming days.
“The application would seek to strike down the order by which he would be released. Unless it is cancelled, nobody can stop his release. We are hopeful it will be struck down by the Supreme Court and once that happens, he will be back in jail,” Chopra said.
Meanwhile, on 25 April, Bihar Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), which rules the state in coalition with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal-United, or JD(U), remarked on Mohan’s release, “What’s the controversy in this? He has served his sentence and is being released legally.”
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Rule of law should be uniform
Noting that rule of law should be uniformly applied in a country, Krishnaiah’s batchmate JRK Rao told South First, “If somebody is a convict, be it a powerful man or a poor person, law should be same for them. Several undertrial convicts are also languishing in jail, but nobody pays attention to them.”
Reacting to the Bihar government’s decision, don Anand Mohan, who was out on parole for his legislator son Chetan Mohan’s engagement on 25 April, referenced the release of the killers and rapists in the Bilkis Bano case and told reporters: “In Gujarat, some people were released and garlanded. Perhaps, that also happened under pressure of JD(U) and the BJP?”
On this Rao asked, “If that becomes a precedent, how will the rule of law prevail?”
In case their application is not entertained by the Supreme Court, Chopra said they would file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL).
“This will be along with a supplementary affidavit that such an order, which allows the state to cut short his prison term, is against the morale of the service.”
While the Bihar State IAS Officers Association is keeping a discreet silence on the issue, the Central IAS Association on 25 April expressed dismay at the decision of the Bihar government.
In the meantime, Krishnaiah’s batchmates are also in the process of writing to the President and other authorities demanding a repeal of the order.
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What happened on 5 December, 1994?
Bihar People’s Party (BPP) member and gangster Kaushlendra alias Chhotan Shukla was murdered in 1994. His killing triggered the attack on the IAS officer Krishnaiah, which was led by Anand Mohan Singh, founder of BPP.
The 37-year-old bureaucrat was attacked and lynched on the evening of 5 December, 1994, in a village on the outskirts of Muzaffarpur city by the mob protesting with the body of Shukla.
Krishnaiah’s driver Deepak Kumar’s testimony was key to getting Anand Mohan convicted.
Mohan was sentenced to death by a lower court in 2007, along with two others. But the Patna High Court later commuted the penalty to life imprisonment. Mohan has been in jail since 2007.
Four others, including Mohan’s wife Lovely Anand, were given life imprisonment and a fine of ₹25,000. The remaining 29 accused were acquitted in the joint trial.
‘Rajputs might be forcing CM’
Critics say that release of Anand Mohan is an effort by the ruling RJD-JD(U) in Bihar to woo voters from his powerful Rajput, or Thakur, community.
The criticism came even as Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, his deputy Tejashwi Yadav, and several of his Cabinet colleagues on 24 April attended Mohan’s son’s engagement function.
Reacting to this, Uma Devi said, “After seeing pictures of the chief minister at the engagement function, we were thinking, ‘Why is he going into their functions’.”
“It’s not good if he is associated with a criminal (Anand Mohan) and deciding to release him shows that anything is possible in politics. People will think they have chosen wrong leaders by this decision of the Bihar government. Other leaders with criminal charges will also get motivated by this decision,” she added.
Uma Devi also believes that the decision is taken under pressure from Rajput politicians and community. “Their community might support the government in the coming elections,” she said.
‘SC, PM and President should intervene’
Noting that she wanted the death sentence and not life imprisonment, Uma said: “If one convicted politician is hanged to death, other politicians would fear doing such a crime.”
“But from the death sentence being reduced to life imprisonment, and now to his release, the government is aiding a criminal. Will people have faith in a government that frees criminals?” a dejected Uma Devi asked.
Uma Devi added that Bihar government never helped her family. “They never called and asked how’s my family. Only the Andhra Pradesh government and my husband’s batchmates helped us, and made us feel secure.”
She sought an early intervention by the Supreme Court, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and President Droupadi Murmu in the matter.
“Law and order would not prevail if each and every chief minister starts taking such decisions,” Uma asserted.
Apart from his wife, Krishnaiah is survived by two daughters — Padma and Niharika.
They fought for freedom & Independence with valour, sacrificed lives & in the last 75 yrs the word 'Independence' has been reduced to mean 'independence' of ruling elite politicians to do anything.
She is G Uma Krishnaiah W/o Dalit IAS G Krishnaiah
Plz stay🙏1/14 pic.twitter.com/7wgSOXcUZF
— RAHUL (@RahulSeeker) April 25, 2023