From se­ri­ous aca­demics to play­ing the good Sa­mar­i­tan, jailed don Pappu Ya­dav is now a cause war­rior

India Today - - NATION - By Amitabh Sri­vas­tava

Typ­i­cally, his day be­gins at 5.30 a. m. with med­i­ta­tion. He then spends hours de­vour­ing news­pa­pers and books. His weight has come down from a mam­moth 175 kg to 150 kg. This four- time par­lia­men­tar­ian once ruled east­ern Bi­har. Dreaded don Ra­jesh Ran­jan aka Pappu Ya­dav is now a changed man. He is pur­su­ing a mas­ter’s in so­ci­ol­ogy from Na­landa Open Univer­sity— the only in­mate of Patna’s Beur Jail tak­ing the ex­am­i­na­tion in 2011— and dreams of adding a PHD to his pro­file.

The 47- year- old strong­man has been be­hind bars since Au­gust 2010. He was sen­tenced to life in Fe­bru­ary 2008 for his in­volve­ment in the mur­der of CPM Purnea leg­is­la­tor Ajit Sarkar, gunned down in June 1998. Ya­dav has ap­pealed against his con­vic­tion, which makes him in­el­i­gi­ble to con­test elec­tions, in a higher court.

Ya­dav has rep­re­sented Purnea and Madhepura con­stituen­cies in the Lok Sabha four times, twice as an in­de­pen­dent, once on a Sa­ma­jwadi Party ticket and once on a Rashtriya Janata Dal ticket. In those days, he used to be the desi ver­sion of Robin Hood. His mere pres­ence en­sured that there were no power cuts in his con­stituency. Doc­tors had to treat the poor for free while cor­rupt bu­reau­crats were scared to their bone. Ya­dav had the ad­min­is­tra­tion danc­ing to his tune. He was the typ­i­cal caste lord cat­a­pulted to the po­lit­i­cal cen­trestage by Bi­har’s frag­mented so­ci­ety and al­ways the last word on is­sues per­tain­ing to his con­stituency.

Ya­dav earned de­grees in hu­man rights and dis­as­ter man­age­ment while he was lodged in Ti­har Jail dur-


ing 2008- 2009. These days, he is busy pen­ning an au­to­bi­og­ra­phy. His co­pris­on­ers say the writ­ings are ex­ten­sive and will mir­ror the man him­self. Ac­cord­ing to re­ports, the for­mer par­lia­men­tar­ian al­ways car­ries a pen.

“The au­to­bi­og­ra­phy is to re­deem his rep­u­ta­tion, as Pappu thinks only his writ­ing and aca­demic qual­i­fi­ca­tions can win him re­spect in so­ci­ety now,” says an as­so­ci­ate. Ya­dav has al­ready fin­ished writ­ing one- fourth of his as yet un­ti­tled au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, ac­cord­ing to his as­so­ciates.

Ya­dav was first ar­rested in May 1999 in con­nec­tion with the mur­der of Sarkar. He has largely been be­hind bars ever since. The three times he was granted bail, the Supreme Court can­celled it promptly and sent him back to prison. But Ya­dav’s ear­lier stints in jails were not like this one. In Septem­ber 2004, he hosted a lav­ish party at Beur Jail for in­mates to cel­e­brate his bail. The same year, he was found to have made 670 calls to prom­i­nent peo­ple, in­clud­ing some Bi­har min­is­ters. In De­cem­ber 2004, Ya­dav held a gath­er­ing of his sup­port­ers in jail, prompt­ing the Supreme Court to or­der that he be shifted to Ti­har Jail in Delhi.

This tem­po­rar­ily re­tired don has also in­volved him­self in phil­an­thropic ac­tiv­i­ties. In 2011, vol­un­teers of his or­gan­i­sa­tion, Yuva Shakti, col­lected Rs 6 lakh to pay for the kid­ney trans­plant of An­shu­mala, a bud­ding singer dumped by her in- laws in Bi­har. And this is not a stray case. Ya­dav has played the good Sa­mar­i­tan to sev­eral other peo­ple. His wife Ran­jit Ran­jan, also a for­mer MP from Sa­harsa, and his five sis­ters have been pool­ing in their re­sources to sus­tain his phil­an­thropic drive. The cou­ple has also set up schools and vo­ca­tional train­ing cen­tres where the poor are of­fered ed­u­ca­tion at highly sub­sidised cost.

The meta­mor­pho­sis, how­ever, has failed to qui­eten his nerves. Ya­dav avoids meet­ing his wife and chil­dren in jail. And he has turned into an in­som­niac, barely sleep­ing for more than four hours a day in his two years at Beur Jail.


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