JD-U legislator arrested in Bihar, sent to jail

Patna: Sunil Pandey, a legislator of Bihar's ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U), was arrested on Saturday on the charge of helping a gangster to escape from judicial custody, police said. Later, he was sent to jail.

Pandey, a bahubali legislator from Terari constituency, was accused of facilitating the escape of gangster Sachidanand Sharma alias Lambu Sharma.

Lambu Sharma, lodged in Ara jail, escaped from court premises in Bhojpur district's Ara area after a bomb blast in January. A woman and a police constable were killed and 16 others injured in the blast.

"A police team of Bhojpur has arrested Pandey in this connection (the blast case) after he was called to a police station where he failed to reply to the charges against him," a Bhojpur district police officer said.

"Police have presented Pandey before Ara's court of the chief judicial magistrate, which sent him to jail for 14 days," the officer said.

Pandey's supporters have protested against his arrest in Ara, about 60 km from here.

Pandey is the second JD-U legislator to be arrested in a criminal case in the past two weeks. Last month, Anant Singh was arrested in connection with a kidnapping-cum-murder case.

According to police, Lambu Sharma informed them during interrogation that Pandey had given him a contract to kill Uttar Pradesh don-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari, who is lodged in the Agra Central Jail.

After the arrest, the JD-U's ally RJD chief Lalu Prasad said Pandey was arrested in an old criminal case. "Law is doing its work," he said.

But the opposition BJP and its ally Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) have questioned the arrest of Pandey after Anant Singh.

BJP leader Prem Kumar said: "This is for politics, nothing else."

RLSP state president Arun Kumar also said Pandey's arrest had nothing to do with the so-called charges against him. "There were charges against him in the past but he was not arrested."

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