In view of the collapse of Mr. Shahabuddin's criminal empire, let us see how his misfortune began. His burgeoning days reveal that he had a particular and striking liking for crime. As he set out to make fortune he had a running start but he chose the path of Kidnapping and murder without thinking what the consequences would be. Criminal minds have one thing in common. They do not care for consequences and they wish to establish their domination. Likewise, Mr. Shahabuddin became the undisputed boss of his criminal empire and rejoiced being the most dreaded man. His cohorts admired his audacity to challenge the law enforcement authorities and he enjoyed living in the world of terror. For a long time nothing moved in Siwan without his permission, only he moved freely in the caravan of SUV's with men brandishing AK-47. Killing and kidnapping became so common that life in the district came to a stand still. Siwan became the breeding ground of criminals and Mr. Shahabuddin became its leader. Whether Mr. Shahabuddin killed people himself or not, it is true that where there is smoke there is fire. If the law enforcement authorities conclude that killing and kidnapping was the way of Mr. Shahabuddin's life, it had to be so and no body would disagree with it.
Then came the political incarnation of Mr. Shahabuddin. It was not an accident because criminals in India do have passion for politics. It was not a coincident that some body else was looking at Mr. Shahabuddin with keen interest. The induction of Shahabuddin by Mr. Laloo Prasad Yadaw. could have been motivated by attracting Moslem Vote bank but it had a different importance for Mr. Shahabuddin. Mr. Shahabuddin. needed political clout as a decoy to keep the law at bay. Finally, birds of same feathers made an unholy alliance to win the election from the land of Dr. Rajendra Prasad. The victory of criminal was a disgrace to the First President of India but the story did not end there. Mr. Shahabuddin made himself so indispensable for Laloo that Laloo saw it fit to promote him from legislature to the Member of Parliament. What did Mr. Shahabuddin do for Laloo is not known but rumors are abound that they were partners in crime. They possess same values and have the same alter ego.
Having the backing of the most powerful person of Bihar, Mr. Shahabuddin was free to do as he wished. He used his alliance with the Chief Minister to further his criminal empire. It was a virtual license to create havoc. To oppose Mr. Shahabuddin was invitation to get killed as it happened in the case of the Young man from JNU. He did not kill people only for money, he killed them or have them killed for no reason at all. Regrettably, he used the color of politics and his reach to high places to stave off the dragnet of the law. There were a few uncorrupt police officers like Ratan Sanjay who defied the norm and challenged his hegemony. Their courage has paid the dividend. The day of reckoning for Mr. Shahabuddin has arrived and it is pay back time for him.
I had an occasion to see Mr. Shahabuddin in 1996 when he was lodged in Siwan Jail. I was visiting Siwan Kachahari where jailing of Shahabuddin was the talk of the town. Some one recommended that I should see the man. On the spur of the moment, I went to Siwan Jail where he was allowed to hold his Darbar and accept visitors. I saw him sitting beside the window of his jail cell, demoralized and helpless but undaunted. He asked me what could he do for me. I said I was there to see what kind of M. P. we had who was so feared and reviled yet so popular. He seemed dumbfounded at my answer but mildly said if he could do anything for me to contact him. However, after seeing Mr. Shahabuddin in person, I was restless to know more about him. In search of answer I talked with many people. I was surprised that as soon as I posed the question about Mr. Shahabuddin, people began to tremble and looked both sides of there shoulder as if some one was watching them. I felt widespread psychosis of fear. Suddenly, it dawned on me that he was opposed by the Male in the election. Probably they could give me their version of Mr. Shahabuddin. I asked a cousin of mine if he knew any body who belonged to Male. The answer baffled me. He named a villager of mine who was a business man in Delhi, and staunchly supported Male. I made it a point to see the man in Delhi on way back to the USA. He was very kind to respond to my questions. The following is what I learnt from him:
Mr. Shahabuddin is a man of many faces and wears many hats. When he has to kill and kidnap someone, he wears the hat of the crime boss but when he has to engage in politics, he talks about local politics. The man from Male told me that Shahebuddin had the backing of all Upper caste people beside his Muslim base. The upper caste people feared Male and turned to Mr. Shahabuddin for protection. He receives unconditional support of the Upper Caste for protecting them; and to demonstrate his gratitude, Shahabuddin had many innocent people killed who sympathized with Male.
Perhaps he was a buffer between the Upper Caste People and Male but he was a criminal first. The recent punishments meted to him by the Court are mild in comparison with his criminality.
However, something bothers me. The government is prosecuting him on each charge separately which is consuming a lot of time. Some of the cases against him are so old that finding evidence would be Herculean task for prosecutors.
I had a suggestion based American justice system. When a person is charged with multi-counts of criminal activities, the system allows combining of charges to save time and expense. Defendants still have options of separate trials but in most cases where the evidence is overwhelming, plea bargaining is very effective tool to settle the matter. Actually, prosecutors agree to dismiss some charges in exchange for pleading guilty to major charges. In such cases, defendants loose their rights of appeal. Such a plea is made with the condition that defendants understand the procedure and voluntarily give up their right of trial.
As far as Mr. Shahabuddin is concerned, would he be amiable to such arrangement? Even if he hopes to be acquitted on appeal, I would say, he would be wiser to go for plea bargaining if it were available to him considering the severity of pending charges of murder. Who knows what would happen. If found guilty, he could even face death penalty or heavier jail time.
No Matter how we view the case of Mr. Shahabuddin, he must be given fair chance to defend himself. He knows what is good for him. My suggestion of plea bargaining is to speed up the process, not to circumvent it.