Chairperson of Ward 1 of Dewahi Gonahi Municipality, Shekh Nurulla, who stands accused of murdering the local Hanuman temple priest Shreeram Sah, has been released on bail by the district court of Rautahat.

Sixty-five-year-old priest Sah of Madhav of Khesarhiya bazaar-based temple Narayan Municipality was shot in the head while having his meal on the temple premises at 9:00pm on August 19 last year.

After investigation revealed the involvement of Shekh Nurulla and six other persons in the murder, police had initiated action by filing an FIR against them in the murder.

Following the investigation, police tried to arrest the ward chair but to no avail. He couldn't be arrested despite all their efforts, but much to everyone's surprise, the fugitive ward chair turned up at the court on Friday secretly and was released by the district court on a bail amount of 200,000 rupees, that too without the knowledge of the police.

The court's decision to release the murder-accused ward chairperson on bail has raised serious questions.

"The court's order to release an accused person who is on the run, and who hasn't even had his statement recorded with the police has raised serious questions," said SP Siddhi Bikram Shah of Rautahat police, adding, "Two others accused in the case who were arrested and then produced at the court are still in custody awaiting trial."

A single bench of District Judge Shyam Bihari Maurya had issued the order to release the ward chair on bail on Friday. Other four persons linked to the murder are still at large and are said to be hiding in India.

Commenting on the release, the murdered priest's brother Lal Bahadur Sah said they were left distraught by the court's decision. "The court's decision has shown that the poor in this country can't get justice."

A version of this article appears in the print on August 13 2021, of The Himalayan Times.