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Jharkhand elections: Brother kills brother, their wives contest against each other

For the impending Jharkhand polls, the BJP has fielded Ragini Singh from Jharia, replacing her husband Sanjeev Singh who is being tried in a local court in connection with the Neeraj Singh murder case. She is in turn facing her sister-in-law Purnima Singh of the Congress, the widow of the slain former Deputy Mayor Neeraj Singh, who was the cousin of Sanjeev Singh.

Jharkhand elections: Brother kills brother, their wives contest against each other

Late Niraj Singh’s wife Purnima (right) is contesting on a Congress ticket, and Sanjeev Singh’s wife Ragini (left) is contesting for BJP. (Photo: IANS)

This year Jharia, a neighbourhood in Dhanbad Dhanbad Sadar subdivision of Dhanbad district in Jharkhand, is heading for a fierce electoral battle. In 2014, the present MLA, Sanjeev Singh, and his cousin, late Niraj Singh, fought the electoral battle.

Sanjeev had contested on a BJP ticket and won by a margin of 30,000. He defeated his cousin Niraj who had contested on a Congress ticket. Niraj was allegedly gunned down on the behest of Sanjeev.

The Jharia MLA, Sanjeev, is lodged in jail as he is an accused in Niraj's murder case. Now, the wives of both cousins have entered the electoral field. The wife of Sanjeev, Ragini, has been fielded on a BJP ticket, while Niraj's widow, Purnima, is contesting on a Congress ticket. The spectre of violence looms large as Niraj's younger brother Harsh Singh said, "Jharia has been treated as ancestral property. Anyone who comes in the way is eliminated by 'a family'." Harsh's indication was towards Singh Mansion, and his cousin Sanjeev.

"Dhanbad saw how my elder brother Niraj was killed in the 'busiest steel gate'. The reason was - he was becoming a political threat for the MLA. We are going to fight out on the basic issues; on lack of basic amenities like water, road, and undermine the fire raging since the last nine decades," said the Congress candidate, Purnima, said. Purnima has urged the voters to come out of their houses on the day of the polling and "choose the right representative". A mafia-turned-politician, Surya Deo Singh, ruled the roost in Jharia till his death. He was an MLA from 1977 to 1991. He was the "guardian" of the Singh family.

He kept his family intact until his last breath. There was no dispute and the Singh family lived happily in the Singh Mansion. Surya had four brothers: Rajnarayan, Bachha, Vikrama, and Ramadhan. After Surya's death, the offshoots of the Singh Mansion started getting in a tussle to inherit Surya's legacy - his wealth, trade union, and the family got involved in the political kingdom war. In 2014, the family dispute escalated when the son of Rajnarayan Singh, Niraj, and the son of late Surya Singh, Sanjeev, threw their hats in the political fray.

According to sources, Niraj had lost the electoral battle but won the hearts of people as a deputy mayor - because of his "friendly nature" and ways of tackling public issues. Sanjeev was upset because of Niraj's growing popularity and allegedly killed Niraj in March 2017. It is believed that Ragini and Purnima will not keep any stone unturned in winning the election. Sources said this has raised the possibility of violence. It is expected that gun culture might stymie the electoral process. The people of Jharia are afraid of a violent polling day but have vowed to vote on December 16, overcoming the fear that has been gripping Dhanbad for years. They will vote against the party that promotes "mafia culture".

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