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Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s decision to allow gangster-turned-politician and convicted murderer Anand Mohan Singh to walk free from jail has led to a huge backlash. Singh was convicted of murdering Dalit IAS officer G Krishnaiah in 1994.

The details of the horrific crime are gruesome. Krishnaiah, the District Magistrate of Gopalganj, was dragged out of his car and killed by a mob of workers of the Bihar People’s Party headed by Singh. ‘The Print’ report said his head was found riddled with bullets, and stones were used to hit him. Singh, convicted of leading the mob, was sentenced to death. It was later commuted to a life sentence by the Patna High Court.

Change in prison rules

Last week, Kumar’s government changed the prison rules, removing a clause in the Bihar Prison Manual which had forbidden remission of jail terms for those convicted of murdering a public servant on duty. It cleared the way for Singh’s release.

A former MLA and MP, Singh is a powerful Rajput leader in Bihar who has been courted across party lines for years. Rajput leaders from the JDU and RJD had been pressing for his release.

The news of Singh’s release has sent shockwaves across the country.

Nitish Kumar
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar interacts with media at Gandhi Maidan in Patna on April 22, 2023. Kumar, who is leading efforts to unite the opposition for the 2024 elections, succumbed to political pressure and paved the way for the release of a convicted murderer. Image Credit: ANI

A distraught Uma Krishnaiah, the wife of G Krishnaiah, told a television channel: “Now he is being released and entering politics. We don’t agree with the move. It’s, in a way, encouraging criminals. It sends a message that you can commit a crime and go to jail but then get freed and join politics.”

The IAS community is also outraged. In a strongly worded statement, the central IAS association expressed their dismay at the news, saying, “amendment of an existing classification which leads to the release of the convicted killer of a public servant on duty is tantamount to denial of justice. Such dilution leads to impunity, erosion in morale of public servants, undermines public order and makes a mockery of the administration of justice. We strongly request the state government of Bihar to reconsider its decision at the earliest”.

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Kumar’s move to release a dreaded criminal is a huge stain on his chief ministership and a stunning commentary on the nexus between politicians and criminals in Bihar. It also takes away any moral argument the opposition has made against the release of Bilkis Bano’s rapists and those who killed her family in the Gujarat riots of 2002.

The Bilkis Bano and Bihar cases demonstrate the utter contempt for the law by states misusing their powers. It is nothing but a grave injustice to the victims. And it makes a mockery of Indian democracy when political parties feel the need to cosy up to dreaded criminals for votes.

Kumar is leading efforts to bring the opposition together for the 2024 elections. But if this is what he has to do to get votes, the question is: Is it worth it?