In Bihar, ‘Bahubali’ is a term to describe criminals turned politicians, known for their muscle power. Some of the most fearsome ‘Bahubalis’ and ‘Dabangs’ in the state have taken gentler and almost saintly ways in the past few years. They are finding a new meaning in life away from the world of blood, gore and guns. Most dons have given up their earlier career plans and find something new. While some are writing poems and autobiography, some of them have engaged themselves in holding yoga seminars and philosophy classes.

Anand Mohan Singh: Currently lodged in a Saharasa jail, Anand Mohan Singh, former Lok Sabha MP from Sheohar, has realised that the pen wields a lot more than the gun. The former bahubali has penned an anthology of poems title ‘Qaid Mein Azad Kalam’ (Pen is free behind bars), released on January 23, 2011 in New Delhi to commemorate the birth anniversary of late Subhash Chandra Bose. His poems like ‘Gumnaam nahi marunga’ (I will not die in oblivion), ‘Jeevan Sangram’ (The battle of life), ‘Yeh Kaisi  Zindagi’ (What kind of freedom is this) and many more throws light on of his views on different aspects of his personal, regional and national politics. Not only this, he has also written ‘Kaal Kothri’, a book about days spent behind the bars. Anand, founder of Bihar People’s Party and also a member of ruling JD(U) in Bihar, was sentenced to death on October 3, 2007 by a trial court for the 1994 lynching of Gopalganj district Magistrate G Krishnaiya.

Pappu Yadav: Strong rival of Anand Mohan in the Koshi region, former MP Pappu Yadav is keeping himself busy in penning a book in Central Beur jail in Patna. The book titled ‘Dus Juta Maar Lo Lekin Bahubali Mat Bolo’ (Hit me with your shoe but don’t call me bahubali), is an attempt by the former RJD MP to get rid of his tarnished image. He has written the book to give a real account of his life with an aim to prove himself innocent. Following complaints that he often made threat calls from his mobile phone, once the police raided the Beur jail and tried to seize his diary but he said that he was noting down important incidents from his life, as he intended to write a book. Apart from this, Yadav has reportedly enrolled himself in the distance education course. Yadav had earned graduation degree in Human Rights and Disasters Management from the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) while he was in Tihar Jail in New Delhi. He has also had a bachelor’s degree in Political Science during his early days in prison. Recently, he has also earned post-graduation degree in Sociology from Nalanda Open University, which has a special distance learning centre for the inmates of Bihar's Central jail. A four time Lok Sabha MP, Yadav is currently serving the life sentence for the murder of a CPI(M) member of Legislative Assembly Ajit Sarkar. Sarkar was gunned down in June 1998 in Purnia district.

Rajan Tiwary: Former MLA Rajan Tiwary from Gobindganjhas, an accused in former minister Brij Bihari Prasad murder case, has asked the authorities to issue him the inspirational spiritual books like Bhagavad Gita, Ved, Manusmriti along with Quran. He is lodged in the Bettiah jail. He has also earned milestones in astrology science from the jail. His lucid style and approach to the subject has earned him a special stature in the jail. Rajan was sentenced to life imprisonment by a CBI court in 2009 for his role in killing of Brij Bihari within the premises of Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS), where he was undergoing treatment, on June 13, 1998. In 2009, when he was lodged in Beur jail, young group inmates attacked him when he was taking bath. He, however, escaped the attack and raised the jail alarms.

Mohammad Shahabuddin: A four-time MP from Bihar’s Siwan and two-time MLA in the Bihar Legislative Assembly, Shahabuddin carries the aura of 42 cases of murder. At present, he is serving a life sentence since August 13, 2003 for kidnapping with intent to murder. He is studying the life and works of Mahatma Gandhi, Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru, Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali Jinnah and many more including Jaswant Singh's contentious books. These books have reflected profound effect on his character. He has been convicted in 8 cases. Because of the conviction, he was not allowed to contest in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. He is said to be one most powerful criminal-politician in the state. He is also known as Robinhood for his good deeds.

Sunil Pandey: Ruling JD(U) MLA Sunil Pandey, one of Bihar’s most colourful and infamous politicians, was released from jail last year. Pandey made incredibly atypical news in March 2009 when he earned a Ph.D from the Veer Kunwar Singh University in Bihar’s Ara for his research on ‘Lord Mahavir’s philosophy of non-violence’.  Pandey was convicted and awarded life sentence in the abduction case of neurosurgeon Ramesh Chandra in 2003.

Munna Shukla: Munna Shukla, a Bhumihar politician and an MLA from Lalganj, arrested on the charges with serious criminal offences, has turned into a yoga-guru. According to jail authorities, he has demanded a separate place within the jail premises for conducting yoga classes for prisoners. Shukla is brother of slain underworld don of north Bihar Kaushalendra Shukla alias Chhotan Shukla, was earlier convicted by a lower court in connection with the murder of then Gopalganj district Magistrate G Krishnaiyyah but later, the Patna High Court acquitted him. In 2004, Shukla, contested as an independent candidate and lost to RJD’s Raghuvansh Prasad Singh.

Purnendu Shekhar Mukherjee: A member of the politiboro of CPI-ML (Maoist), seventy-year-old Purnendu Shekhar Mukherjee, is languishing in the Bhagalpur Central jail since his arrest last year in Katihar. He has approached the human rights organisations including the Human Right Commission of India to hand over his body to a medical college in West Bengal and donate his eyes to a needy patient in Bengal after his death in prison.

After seven years of JD(U) rule in Bihar, visiting the state gives a dream of its old glory days and it wouldn’t be worthless to say that Nitish Kumar’s vision for development of Bihar is now becoming a reality. To achieve this end, people not only have great expectations from the ruling establishment NDA, but are also willing to take things in his hands and initiate proactive measures for the welfare of the state.

(Abhinav Ranjan/ JPN)