Jail security beefed up as thousands wait outside to meet Lalu

RJD leader sent to jail after being convicted in the multimillion dollar fodder scam

Patna: The security of Ranchi-based Birsa Munda central jail, neighbouring Jharkhand state, was beefed up on Monday as a huge crowd has been gathering outside the prison for the past three days to meet their leader, Lalu Prasad Yadav, the president of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), who has been booked there. Yadav was sent to the jail on Saturday after being convicted in a multimillion dollar fodder scam.


Authorities deployed an additional 100 policemen outside the prison compound and also put up a barricade some 500 meters away from the gate to prevent the crowd going too close.

What has baffled authorities is the fact the taint of corruption has failed to deter Yadav’s supporters; they want to catch a glimpse of their leader, whom they see as “the messiah of the poor”, and refuse to accept the court’s judgement. When Yadav was transported to jail from the court after his conviction, a poor woman cried bitterly on the court’s premises and fainted.

“How will I bear with this? I can’t pass nights in my home while my leader stays in jail in this chilly winter. This is gross injustice to him,” she cried.

Witnesses said supporters have been waiting in bone-chilling cold for the past 72 hours to meet Yadav in spite of being told that only three people would be allowed to visit him in a week. Many have journeyed from far-off locations in Bihar and Jharkhand, reserving buses or small vehicles.

“We have come from Madhepura [in Bihar] and want to meet our leader but the authorities say only three people can meet him in a week. How can they prevent us from meeting our leader? He is not a thief or murderer … He is the leader of the poor who has been framed in false cases,” one supporter who waited in the cold said.

On Sunday, angry supporters created a ruckus outside the jail after the authorities didn’t allow them to see Yadav. They shouted slogans such as “Jail ka fatal tutega, Lalu Yadav chhutega” (Lalu Prasad will come out as the gate of the jail will eventually broken open).

Apparently under pressure from the impatient crowd, authorities allowed five people to meet Yadav on Monday. “The jail authorities should allow his supporters to meet him every day. He is not a terrorist or extremist, he is only a victim of politics,” Jharkhand’s party chief Anapoorna Devi told media on Monday after meeting him. She charged the state government with victimising Yadav’s supporters.

The RJD chief was sent to jail on Saturday after being convicted by a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in a fodder scam case relating to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs8.45 million (Dh484,736) from a local treasury. The quantum of punishment will be announced on January 3 next year.

The case against him was registered in 1996 while Yadav was serving as the chief minister of Bihar. He, however, quit the post and appointed his wife, Rabri Devi — totally divorced from politics — as his successor before going to jail in July 1997. She remained in office for the next eight years until the RJD was defeated in 2005 state elections and the National Democratic Alliance came to power.

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