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Published in the 16-31 Dec 2003 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Bajrang Dal activists masquerade as ‘mediapersons’ in Bihar
By Soroor Ahmed

New Bihar police chief WH Khan (left) with DP Ojha

Patna: Once again mediapersons of Bihar, especially those working in television channels, have been caught in the tangled web woven by themselves. Bihar’s director general of police, D P Ojha, has finally been shown the door. Waris Hayat Khan, the second senior-most IPS officer of the state immediately took over as the new police chief. What the Press failed to answer is if RJD chief Laloo Yadav was using Ojha to teach his party MP Shahabuddin a lesson –– as was till recently being projected by the media –– then what prompted the outgoing DGP to open front against the state government and thus get the boot in return.

Ever since July 30 this year Press in Bihar has been parroting that Ojha opened old cases against the Rashtriya Janata Dal MP, Mohammad Shahabuddin, at the instance of party boss, Laloo Prasad Yadav. That was the day when Ojha for the first time took the help of Press to announce legal action against Shahabuddin. Laloo was then on pilgrimage to Amarnath.

Newspapers and electronic channels were suddenly filled with stories as to how the Muslim-Yadav (M-Y) combination has collapsed and that Laloo Yadav now wants to teach a lesson to Muslims. Even part-time experts on Bihar like Asif Moazzam wrote a piece in The Milli Gazette (16-30 Sept 2003) from Delhi accusing Laloo Yadav of cutting Shahabuddin to size as he was fast emerging as the Muslim leader.

The December 6 developments showed how far off the mark were these scribes. In fact they were fully aware as to whose game Ojha had throughout been playing –– obviously BJP’s. Yet for months mainstream Press deliberately indulged in the disinformation campaign as they wanted to drive a wedge between Muslims and Yadavs. However, when in July-August Laloo took the wind out of Ojha’s sails by cajoling Shahabuddin to surrender, the outgoing DGP lost the main plank. He was expecting that Laloo would get him removed immediately and he would emerge as a martyr, a hero, so that he could be suitably rewarded by the NDA government in Centre after his retirement in February next. There are many such examples in the past.

Laloo on the other hand was always waiting for an opportune moment to deal with Ojha. Before July 30 no police officer of Bihar has been criticized by the BJP so much as this same Ojha. The leader of opposition in Bihar assembly, Sushil Kumar Modi, times without number accused him of being the most corrupt officer, a boot-licker and an opportunist. Ironically today the BJP is observing Black Day on his removal. 

Laloo deliberately went slow in taking action against Ojha and was waiting for opportune time. But the latter started losing his patience and suddenly on November 29 he directly attacked the RJD leadership and the ruling party politicians while addressing a meeting at Sonepur fair. Two days later he repeated the same attack while answering questions in Patna Book Fair. These attacks were totally uncalled for, as legal action against Shahabuddin was already on.

Now the whole media suddenly changed gear. They started projecting Ojha as an honest upright officer out to fight the system and foremost Laloo Yadav. The fact is that Ojha has been chargesheeted by none else but the CBI and has throughout his career been a controversial officer. 

However, Ojha committed a major blunder. He not only attacked politicians but publicly said that 80 per cent of police force in Bihar was corrupt. He also sought the dissolution of police associations evoking sharp reaction from police union leaders. In the post-retirement days this may prove costly. 

Interestingly, more than opposition politicians it is media which is highlighting that W H Khan has been made the new DGP at the instance of Shahabuddin and that the state government has bowed before him. The truth is that Khan was the next senior most police officer in the state and is due to retire a month after Ojha, that is, on March 31, 2004. Both Khan and Ojha are of 1967 batch and his name figured last time too. In the case of appointment of DGP the Bihar government has often been following the tradition of appointing the senior most officer. Khan’s appointment has nothing to do with Shahabuddin’s pressure. 

If Shahabuddin is really an 'ISI man' why is it that only Ojha is stating it. The whole central government agencies should have swung in action and he should have been thrown into jail under POTA while still in Delhi. After all minister of state for home I D Swamy in one such visit to Bihar in 2001 went on record to state that he had no knowledge of Shahabuddin’s ISI link.

The writer is a former special correspondent, The Asian Age, and at present editor-cum-associate professor, Administrative Training Institute, Patna q

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