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Just a little fortnight on the way to ministersip - The travails of Taslimuddin - Observer

Arun Shorie ()
28 June 1996


Title : Just a little fortnight on the way to
Author : Arun Shorie
Publication : Observer
Date : June 28, 1996

AT page 118 of the report of the Special Committee
constituted by the Bihar Vidhan Sabha we read: "This
time I came to meet Mohammad Taslimuddin about
12-20 days
ago. I then went back. I came today. There is a servant
in his house whom I know. He must be about 18
About seven days ago, when I was also with them, this
servant had brought a sanvali girl. She was 15-16 years
old. That day Taslim sahib and two other men took the
girl and went into the room. A man called Munna had
brought two-three bottles of liquor that day on a cycle.
The three together did the wrong thing with her
throughout the night. That very day, Mohammad
had taken the Lindeer (sic.) injection from me. He
suffers from the gamy suzak ailment. She went away at
four in the morning. Whenever I used to come, I used to
see that after a day or two a girl is brought. And with
her Mohammad Taslimuddin as well as his associates
to do the wrong thing. Munna Sen used to bring girls
regularly. Apart from him, others whom I do not know
used to bring girls. Last time also, when I had come 15
days ago, I gave a Pinadeer (sic.) injection to him. When
I used to come, he would say, a Santhali girl is good,
you bring one and your work will get done. Taslim sahib
would ask for money to fix persons in Jobs also ..." On
page 14 of the report, we read the testimony of Mrs
Zulfa, "Taslimuddin sahib extorts money from persons."
the same page we read the testimony of Mrs
"Taslimuddin frightens people at the point of a dagger. "
On that very page, the committee reports the testimony of
Mrs Aruh Jha: "Shri Taslim had our college raided by
dacoits. My husband was not here. I was alone. I was
stabbed the women's degree college ... 11 On the
page, we have the testimony of Mrs Vimla Devi:
"Taslimuddin had done a lot of dhandli. Our daughters
have stopped studying in the school. They are
disgraced ...two or three girls have been disgraced. We
wouldn't sleep at night out of fear... What had happened
is as follows:

At the time Mohammad Taslimuddin was a member of
Bihar assembly. On February 16, 1986, his house in
Araria, Bihar was attached and his property was
confiscated. He alleged that the police had been high-
handed. Politicians with whose parties he was then
- Karpoom Thakur, even George Fernandes - lent their
and voice to the protest. As a result in its session on
February 27, 1986, the Bihar Vidhan Sabha constituted
Special Committee of five legislators to examine the
veracity of the allegations of Taslimuddin.

After examining over 70 witnesses - Muslims and Hindus
women and men : officials and non-officials :
eyewitnesses to the events, victims, neighbours... - and
after examining the records of the police station and the
statements and records of several officials, and after
some of the members of the committee had

visited the place, the committee settled on a unanimous
report on July 13, 1988. The committee held that the
attachment and seizure of Taslimuddin's property had
done legally, that they had been done on the specific
orders of the court. These orders, it turned out, had
been issued by the judicial magistrate after Taslimuddin
had run away upon the court issuing non-bailable
for his arrest. It transpired that police parties had
been sent in search of him to his house in Araria, Patna
and in Kishanganj. He had successfully evaded them.
police parties had returned and their inability to find
him had been reported to the magistrate. It was then that
the judicial magistrate had issued orders for the
attachment and auctioning of the property so as to
the man out of hiding.

But, why had the warrants been issued? What did the
witnesses and records disclose about the man? You will
course know that this Taslimuddin is the 'very man
the Prime Minister appointed as the minister of state for
home, and thereby gave him access to the most
files and functions of the Indian state. The evidence
which the Special Committee of the Bihar Vidhan
recorded, and the documents which they obtained form
bulk of, the uncontroverted bulk of the report of the
Committee. Everything that follows is but a precise (and
of course translation from the original in Hindi) of the
evidence given by witnesses to the committee, and the
documents which the committee gathered. Everything
taken from the printed text of the report, and in each
instance, I shall indicate within parenthesis the page
number of the report at which that particular point
occurs. In 1983, the house of one Dr N Kumar in Araria
was raided by dacoits. His daughter had been spirited
away. "What was done to her was a shame." She
recovered the next morning (p 21). Taslimuddin was
suspected to be behind the crime at the time (p 10). A
police dog had been pressed into service. He had
made to sniff around Dr Kumar's place. He had then
let loose. @ had made his way to the house of
(p 16, 21, 25, 27). Taslimuddin had gone on a hunger
strike: this is his modus operandi, the witnesses stated,
to divert attention from the facts he makes such things a
political issue, and thereby gives them a political
colour (p 21, 25, 111).

There was s spate of dacoities and other crimes in
in January and February 1986. On January 13, the house
the storekeeper of the sub-division hospital, Avinash
Kumar, was raided by dacoits. The dacoits made off
his belongings. They wanted to abduct the sister-in-law
of the storekeeper, but she was saved. The
of the hospital went on a strike. The goods were
recovered, but the culprits were not caught (p 28, 42,
104). In view of the alarming frequency of the crimes,
the local Advocates' Association convened an
meeting on February 3 and passed a
resolution demanding that the administration take
immediate action to stem the deteriorating law and
situation and forthwith arrest those responsible for the
crimes (p 97). Another dacoity took place on the night of
February 5/6, this one at the house of one Ramji
(p 99). The entire town was incensed. The next day, that
is on the February 6, the whole town closed down: The
people went on a general strike, and there was a
procession asking the administration to immediately

apprehend the criminals and those behind them (p

Two days after, there was an even more serious
Armed men made their way into the house of the doctor
the sub-divisional hospital, Dr Salauddin. The doctor,
his wife and their little daughter were tied and
terrorised, as was a peon who happened to arrive to
the doctor to come to the hospital for an emergency
The goods were looted. At last, the doctor was able to
untie himself and call for help.

As people from the hospital rushed over, the dacoits
fled. In the hurry, one of them left a plastic shoe he
was wearing and a muffler.

The doctor filed an FIR. The police dog and his handler
were called. The dog sniffed the shoe and the muffler for
20 minutes. He was then let loose, with the handler and
havildar running after him. Sniffing and smelling his
way, the dog went to the house of Taslimuddin. He
his way to a room where Taslimuddin and a number of
people were sitting (in the accounts there are at all
times a number of persons, including a number of
hanging about at Taslimuddin's place). Upon reaching
room, the dog sat down. The handler and havildar
after him. Which saalaa has dared to bring the dog here,
Taslimuddin shouted, thrash these damned fellows.
handler and the havildar were then thrashed thoroughly,
they were throttled till they almost suffocated. A gun
was held to them . They were told to, write that the dog
was actually an untrained one, that they had been forced
by Dr Jha of the hospital to bring him to Taslimuddin's
house. To save their lives, they wrote whatever they were
told to write. All this happened on the February 11.
Later the same day, a person rushed to the hospital
told Dr S R Jha that Taslimuddin sahib wanted him
urgently. The doctor explained that he was about to go in
for operating on a patient. The man said that it was an
emergency case. Fearing Taslimuddin's clout and
-- he was the local MLA - the doctor went to the house.
He was set upon and told to sign a statement that it was
he who had asked the handler and the havildar to brine
the dog, to Taslimuddin's house. Once he was able to
himself from Taslimuddin's house Dr Jha reported the
matter to the police. (For the dacoity at Dr Salauddin's
house, p. 19, 27-29, 48, 127-29: for the event connected
with the dog, (p 39, 44-45, 124-25)

Additional supervisor of electricity department Vidya
Sagar Sharma had been asked by Taslimuddin's men to
over Rs 5000-plus amount to get 200 litres of petrol (p
17, 38). He had not done so.

On February 9, he and junior engineer Tanvir Hasan
summoned to the house of Taslimuddin. They were
black and blue, they were throttled with lathis being
pushed against their throats and were abused. All this
was done by Taslimuddin and by his men at his
Eventually, Taslimuddin asked his men to tie ropes
the waists of the two. This was done. The two were then
pulled and dragged through the town. They were abused
they were dragged and taken around, they were spat
they were thrashed. Taslimuddin himself was at the
of the procession. Witnesses testified that they saw him
holding the ropes to which these two were tied. The

junior engineer, Tanvir Hasan fainted as the procession
reached the Chandni Chowk of the town. Person from
nearby hotel brought water. That is how he was revived.
Someone shouted that the police are coming.
and his men left the two and ran away (p 17,23,25,29,
120- 21).

The incident shook the town. On the February 10, all the
non-gazetted officers of the town went on strike. They
went to the senior officers at Araria and told them that
they were all feeling terribly insecure. Therefore,
something ought to be done and Taslimuddin should
arrested. They were given the assurance that the police
would do patrolling of the town (p 36-37).

By now, there were five recent cases against
(p 41-42). On the February 12, the non-gazetted
held another meeting. They passed a resolution in
they said, inter alia, that to highlight their demand for
the arrest of "Taslimuddin and his goonda
they would all wear black badges to work from February
to 20, that they would go on strike on February 25, and
take out a procession on February 27.

After the meeting, the secretary of the Non-Gazetted
Employees Association sent a telegram to the chief
secretary of the Bihar government saying, "Government
employees unsafe (.) Arrest of Sri Taslimuddin, and his
criminal associates demanded for controlling crime (.)
Employees would observe protest black badges from
14th to
20th February, 1986 (.) Token strike on 25th if demand
not met. "

That same day, the 12th, the police took the happenings
to court. The magistrate issued warrants for the arrest
of Taslimuddin. Knowing that there are at all times 50 to
100 persons at the house of Taslimudddin, the
administration took the precaution of having a magistrate
accompany the police party also. Taslimuddin got the
that he was to be arrested. He fled by the back-door.
There were 15-20 bad mashes at the house. Chicken
been brought for them. When they heard that the police
was on its way, they also fled by the back-door. One of
the men, however, was caught. It was he who gave the
account with which we started (p 118-119). Learning that
Taslimuddin was likely to be in Patna or Kishanganj,
police went to the establishments at these places
he was likely to be. They informed and sought the help of
the local police. They were unable to trace him.

They returned to Araria. The court was informed. The
judicial magistrate issued the order on February 15 for
attaching and confiscating the property of Taslimuddin.
That evening, neighbours and others saw the son of
Taslimuddin and that of another MLA, Ajit Sarkar, remove
things form the house (p 31, 33)

The police and others concerned came to the house
February 16. They took away the assets they could find,
including some door and window frames.

Several witnesses, including the neighbours of
Taslimuddin, testified that they saw the sons of
Taslimuddin and Ajit Sarkar break portions of the house
after the police had left (p 15-16, 17, 21, 23, 110-111).
To cite the testimony of just on witness, Samiur

told the committee, "The SDO and overseer were
taken, tied with ropes and being thrashed. He saw this
himself at the Chandni Chowk. Shri Taslim sahib
holding the rope himself. The overseer fainted at the
Chandni Chowk. He fell down. He regained
after he was given water. He was then thrashed again.
Shri Taslim sahib shut a darogha, the handler of the dog
and a boy called Jyoti in his house. In their case also,
noises of abuse etc. were coming from inside. On the
of the seizure and attachment of the property, the police
were taking away the movable property. But same day
the evening, 1 saw the sons of Shri Ajit Sarkar and
Taslimuddin breaking the house" (p 25).

On the February 17, the president of Bihar state branch
of the Indian Medical Association wrote to the Speaker of
the Bihar assembly. He registered his protest at the
manhandling by Taslimuddin of Dr S R Jha, the
officer at the sub divisional hospital in Araria, and the
way the assailants had misbehaved with the doctor. "I
fail to understand," the president of the association
told the Speaker, "why the doctors are being made
of manhandling and assault by members of
since recent few months (sic.)."

He appealed to the Speaker to have the matter inquired
into thoroughly "so that truth may come out on surface
and necessary action can be taken" (p. 109). A week
later, Taslimuddin started making a big noise claiming
that the police had committed the most extreme
when they had come to attach his property (p 111). Other
politicians with whose parties he was then associated
took up the chorus. And the Special Committee came to

Even by then, Taslimuddin had been in jail nine times,
had been remanded for theft (p 32). Even by then, he
involved in six criminal cases. Among these were
under section 148 of the Indian Penal Code (rioting
with deadly weapons) : section 186 (obstructing a public
servant in the discharge of his duties) : section 307
(attempt to murder) : section 323 (voluntarily causeing
hurt): section 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to prevent a
public servant from discharging his duty) : section 341
(wrongful restraint) : section 342 (wrongful
confinement): section 353 (assault or use of criminal
force to prevent a public servant from discharging his
duty): section 386 (extortion by putting a person in fear
of death or grievous hurt): section 419 (cheating by
imprison action): section 420 (cheating and dishonestly
inducing delivery of property): section 467 (forgery of
valuable security, will etc.): section 471 (using as
genuine a forged document): section 504 (intentional
insult to provoke breach of peace): section 506 (criminal
intimidation) (p 33-34).

These are just a few things from just one report. The
man's career in these regards has continued. As has
political career: He was for long an MLA in Bihar, from
1969 to 1989: As a member successively of the
Citizens for Democracy, Lok Dal, Janata Dal, of the
Samajwadi Party and as an Independent. Since 1989,
one break, he has been a meuiber not of a mere
but also of parliament. This time round, he is not just
-any odd member, he is a minister - as a member of
party that swears by principles the most, that is the

Janata Dal.

Several question arise:

Did the home secretary apprise the Prime Minister of the
man's antecedents before the man was sworn in as
minister? If he did not, what does that tell us about the
way our home ministry and intelligence agencies
On the other hand, if the home secretary did inform the
Prime Minister and the Prime Minister appointed
Taslimuddin minister nonetheless, what does that tell
about the Prime Minister and his priorities?

As Taslimuddin was appointed minister on the
recommendation of Laloo Yadav, what does that tell us
about Laloo Yadav?

Is it not a fact that once they include even such a
person in the ministry, governments are able to make
that they are "secular"?

What is one to think of our "socialists" who rush in to
speak up for such persons, and thereby shield them
the consequences of their actions and, I need hardly
so long as person is a Muslim or "Dalit," rushing in to
speak up for him is an ailment endemic not just to
"socialists" but to activists in general.

Can a country which surrenders the reins of governance
such hands survive, even one in which the system
become so loose that, by the permutations of chance
intrigue the reins fall into such hands?

At the very least one suggestion is in order. Much is
made by parties and governments that they will have
legislators declare their assets. That is all to the
good, even though, the promise having been made,
parties assume that enough has been done, and
never require the legislators to follow through and
actually declare their assets. But, I would urge an even
more elementary disclosure.

The People's Representation Act should be amended
require that each candidate shall list in his election
form the criminal cases in which he is involved, giving
in each instance the precise sections under which he is
charged. He should also have to declare the current
of each case. Any false statement in this regard should
be a ground for disqualifying the candidate.

And the law should make it compulsory for all election
material of the candidate - posters, pamphlets etc, - to
carry a list of the criminal cases in which he is
involved - exactly as packets of cigarettes are required
to carry a statutory warning : "Cigarette smoking is
harmful to your health."

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