- After Lalu Yadav returned to power, Mohd Shahabuddin was freed on bail
- The Bihar government had failed to begin trial in stipulated time
- The BJP had accused the government of weakening the case
Chanda Babu, a prosperous Siwan businessman till a few years ago, now lives in a single room with his partially paralysed wife Kalavati in a building on a main road in the city. In 2004, two of his sons were bathed in acid by Shahabuddin and his men after they opposed his goons who wanted to taken over their shop and land. A third son, Rajiv Roshan, an eyewitness in the case, was gunned down in 2014.
Last year, a few months after Lalu Yadav returned to power in Bihar in partnership with Nitish Kumar, Mohd Shahabuddin was freed on bail after years in jail and drove into Siwan in a convoy of over 200 vehicles.
"When he came we were very afraid....even the police asked us to go and hide," said Chanda Babu , fighting to hold back tears and adding, "I was very sad when Nitish and Lalu got together. I had thought then that I would never get justice . Now I am more hopeful."
Asha Ranjan, the wife of Siwan-based journalist Rajdeo Ranjan, who was shot dead allegedly by Shahabuddin's men in May 2016, said, "I got no support from the govt except the recommendation for the CBI enquiry . I knew I would never get justice from the Bihar govt . Now that the mahagathbandhan has gone I am hopeful of justice."
Shahabuddin, sentenced in a case to life imprisonment and who had been in jail for years, got bail last year because the Bihar government failed to begin trial in stipulated time in the Rajiv Roshan murder case.
The BJP, then in the opposition, accused the Nitish Kumar government of weakening the case against bail for Shahabuddin because of his proximity to Lalu Yadav. It also pointed that it was the Nitish Kumar-BJP government between 2005 and 2013 that was credited with ending Mohd Shahabuddin's reign of terror in Siwan.
The party announced the return of "jungleraj" or jungle rule, coined by Nitish Kumar to describe the 15 years in power of then bitter rival Lalu Yadav and his wife Rabri Devi.
Last week, when Nitish Kumar dumped Lalu Yadav over corruption charges against the RJD chief and his family, the BJP swiftly offered him support and they are now back in power as partners.
Ahead of a trust vote that Nitish Kumar won with ease on Friday, his new deputy chief minister Sushil Modi brought up Mohd Shahabuddin in the state assembly to counter the allegation of Lalu Yadav's party that the new alliance "betrays" the people's mandate in the assembly election. "Was the mandate for making Mohammad Shahabuddin national general secretary of the RJD?" Mr Modi asked.
When Shahabuddin was released on bail last year, Chandu Babu, with the help of lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan, petitioned the Supreme Court against his bail. The Bihar government too then intervened and appealed against the bail and Shahabuddin. He was ordered back to jail and is now lodged in Delhi's Tihar jail.
Five km from Siwan, in Shahabuddin's village Pratapur, his supporters too say Nitish Kumar new partnership with the BJP is bad news for the gangster-turned-politician.