PATNA: Former RJD MP Prabhunath Singh, a close aide of party chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, was on Thursday convicted by a lower court for the brutal murder of his political rival 22 years ago.
Immediately after the court in Hazaribagh in Jharkhand pronounced the verdict, the criminal-turned-politician, his brother Dinanath Singh and former mukhiya (panchayat head) Ritesh Singh were taken into custody and sent to jail. The court will pronounce the quantum of punishment on May 23.
The conviction of Singh, an influential upper-caste Rajput leader with a criminal background, is seen as yet another blow to Lalu Prasad Yadav after the recent Supreme Court verdict on fodder scam cases and the raids by the Income Tax department.
Singh, who was a three-term MP from chief minister Nitish Kumar’s JD (U) and a one-time MP from RJD representing Maharajganj in Saran district, was found guilty of involvement in the murder of Ashok Singh—then a sitting Janata Dal MLA from Masrakh constituency in Saran.
A bomb blast at the official residence of Ashok Singh in Patna on July 3, 1995, had killed the Janata Dal MLA and a man identified as Anil Kumar Singh. Three others were injured in the blast that was triggered at the behest of Prabhunath Singh, who was defeated by Ashok Singh in the Assembly polls just three months ago.
“Justice has prevailed after 22 long years. I hope the court will give him the harshest punishment for the brutal murder of my husband who was extremely popular in his constituency,” said Chandni Devi, widow of Ashok Singh.
“Soon after losing to my husband, Prabhunath Singh had openly threatened he would eliminate him within 90 days. My husband had survived an attack masterminded by him a few years before his murder,” she added.
Prabhunath Singh represented Maharajganj LS constituency for JD (U) between 1998 and 2009 and, as the deputy leader of the JD (U) parliamentary party, he was close to CM Nitish Kumar.
He lost to RJD’s Umashankar Singh in the 2009 polls and then joined RJD. After Umashankar’s death in 2012, Prabhunath was elected from the seat in a by-poll in 2013.