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Why is Nitish silent on Yasin arrest

Author: Santosh Singh
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: September 2, 2013
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/why-is-nitish-silent-on-yasin-arrest/1163238/

So why has Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar not spoken a word yet on the arrest of top Indian Mujahideen man Yasin Bhatkal, considered one of the biggest catches in recent times, from his state? Nitish, known to pride himself on "improving" Bihar's law and order, has gone into a shell, letting DGP Abhayanand defend the state police and in turn, the state government.

The BJP has used this to corner Nitish, accusing him of practising "ultra Muslim appeasement politics" and being "soft on terrorism". While the BJP may have its political reasons, the question does arise as to why the Bihar Police did not file an FIR against Yasin under provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, which applies in case of activities of a banned organisation like the IM? The state police has enough proof of the presence of an IM module in Bihar given the flurry of arrests over the past four years from Darbhanga, Samastipur and Madhubani. If the Bihar Police has a convincing answer on not registering a case against Yasin and taking him in remand, it is yet to give one.

Meanwhile, the Nitish government that appears to suddenly find itself rudderless has again exposed itself to the charge of letting narrow politics dictate its actions.

The party has been eying the north Bihar parliamentary seats of Madhubani, Darbhanga, East Champaran, West Champaran and the Sheohar and Seemanchal region seats of Purnia, Araria and Katihar, all won by erstwhile ally BJP in the last elections.

All these seats have sizeable Muslim populations and rivals are accusing Nitish of erring on the side of caution on Yasin in the belief that he this would go down well with the community.

Another party that has been maintaining equally conspicuous silence is the RJD, which also counts Muslims among its support base.

However, if Nitish's silence is ringing loud, it's because he is now looking like a CM who has sealed his lips just when faced with uncomfortable questions. Remember the midday meal deaths?

- Santosh is a special correspondent based in Patna

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