Jailed Bihar legislator Sunil Pandey, sentenced to life imprisonment for kidnapping a doctor, was awarded a PhD Thursday for his research on Lord Mahavir’s philosophy of “Ahimsa (non-violence)”.
The Veer Kunwar Singh University (VKSU) at Arrah in Bhojpur district, about 60 km from here, awarded a doctorate degree to Pandey at its convocation for his thesis “Mahavir Ke Updesh Adhunik Paripeksha Mein (Mahavir’s Teachings in the Modern Context).”
University sources said Pandey appeared for the viva examination Nov 25 under police custody. He was interviewed for nearly an hour by a team of experts on Jainism and the result was published Nov 27.
However, Pandey failed to receive the PhD degree from Bihar Governor R. L. Bhatia, who as the chief guest at the convocation, gave away the degrees. Pandey reached the ceremony nearly two hours late due to a delay by the jail authorities and expressed his displeasure for missing a life-time opportunity because of the jail officials’ “high-handedness”.
Pandey, in his 40s, is a legislator of Bihar’s ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U) from Piro and is currently lodged in Patna’s Beur jail.
He has nearly two dozen criminal cases against him that include murder, kidnapping, extortion and loot. In September last year, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for kidnapping Ramesh Chandra, a neurosurgeon, in 2003.
Chandra was abducted from Patna May 18, 2003 while he was returning home from a party. He was rescued two days later by the police from Chiraura village near Patna. The abductors had demanded Rs.10 million as ransom, but Chandra was rescued without paying any money, the police said then.
At the time of Chandra’s kidnapping, Pandey was a Samata Party legislator from Piro in Bhojpur.
Now happy at being able to add the prefix doctor to his name, Pandey said that now wants to write a book on the principles of non-violence propounded by lord Mahavira, the 24th and last “Tirthankara” (enlightened one) of the Jain religion.
“Pandey has made up his mind to write a book on the relevance of Mahavir’s non-violence,” a close associate of Pandey told IANS.
The legislator has written at least half a dozen articles on Mahavir’s non-violence.
A family friend said that Pandey was drawn towards Mahavir’s philosophy of non-violence.
“Pandey has been doing research on Mahavir’s non-violence, not for livelihood or out of any compulsion but due to interest,” he said.
Pandey, once said to be close to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, hit the headlines in 2006 when he threatened to kill some media persons at a hotel in Patna.