Controversies seem to follow Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav like bogies behind an engine. First it was the denial of bail for his brother-in-law Sadhu Yadav and now he faces allegations of being behind the mysterious drowning of a student. The case has parallels with the Nitish Katara murder case in the sense that the student, Abhishek, studying computer science at the Birla Institute of Technology (BIT) in Ranchi, was allegedly romantically involved with Lalu's daughter Ragini. The two friends, who accompanied Abhishek and Ragini to a picnic at Dasham waterfalls near Ranchi last week, have claimed that the couple were in love. And the fact that Abhishek drowned in somewhat mysterious circumstances has led to Lalu's opponents claiming it to be a murder and not an accident.
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LAST DAY: Abhishek with Ragini at the waterfall where he died
Not many in Ranchi buy the conspiracy theory but Lalu's silence has set the rumour mills running
The former BJP chief minister of Jharkhand Arjun Munda was the first to demand a CBI probe into the incident after meeting the father of the deceased, Dr Subhash Mishra.
Dr Mishra, the Chief Medical Officer at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in Delhi, is known to be close to top BJP leaders, many of whom are his patients. Whether politics is behind the allegations on Lalu is debatable but the post-mortem report certainly led to
Dr Mishra going on an offensive. The report, stating the cause of Abhishek's death as accidental drowning, was released within 15 minutes of the autopsy. Himself a doctor, Dr Mishra sought to know why the local administration was in such a hurry to prove that the death was an accident.
He told INDIA TODAY: "My son's death was not an accident. I have enough evidence to nail all the accused. I have photos and VCD that were shot on that day. Abhishek's face had a deep cut. One of the upper teeth was broken, there was a deep mark on his right leg and his skull was fractured at the back. Such injuries do not result from a fall."
Dr Mishra has also sought a CBI inquiry into the incident and dashed off letters to the Chief Justice of India, the Chief Justice of the Jharkhand High Court and the National Human Rights Commission. Madhu Koda, UPA chief minister of Jharkhand whose government at the Centre is supported by Lalu's RJD, rejected the CBI option. "We all are hurt by his death. He was a bright student. But we should refrain from politicising the matter," Koda declared. What is strange, however, is that after the incident last Friday, when the local administration came to know that Ragini was the daughter of the RJD supremo, she and the other two boys were taken to the chief minister's residence after which they disappeared from the scene. Moreover, when Dr Mishra and his family reached Ranchi, half a dozen RJD leaders led by Girinath Singh met him at the airport and were with them throughout their stay.
Then the two boys, Bharat and Vishal, who had disappeared, suddenly surfaced after three days. They admitted that the relationship between Ragini and Abhishek was more than that of friends and even hinted that marriage plans were in the air. They said the two were in love for the past four years and their families knew this well. Dr Mishra confirmed that they used to talk on the phone for hours.
Not many in Ranchi give credence to the conspiracy theory but Lalu's uncharacteristic silence has set the rumour mills running.