Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s familiar ‘Jungle Raj’ jibe at RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav for the dismal law and order situation during the latter’s 15-year reign in the state has come back to haunt him in his latest stint.
According to police data for January-October 2020, uploaded recently on the Bihar Police website, nine persons were killed and four women were raped every day in Bihar during the ten months’ period.
The news of murders, rapes and kidnapping continues to hit newspaper and TV headlines in the state, forcing Nitish to hold five review meetings of the law and order situation over the last one month.
Taking a jibe at Nitish on Twitter, Lalu wrote on 6 January: “Despite all his editing, chief minister-cum-editor-in-chief is not able to prevent newspapers from becoming blood-stained. A Tsunami of crime has hit Bihar. Hundreds of people are being killed every day…”
बिहार के अनुकंपाई मुख्यमंत्री सह एडिटर इन चीफ़ अपनी लाख एडिटिंग के बावजूद अखबारों को रक्तरंजित होने से रोक नहीं पा रहे है।
बिहार में अपराध की सुनामी आई हुई है।प्रतिदिन सैंकड़ों लोग मारे जा रहे है। मुख्यमंत्री कान में तेल डालकर संवेदनहीनता और स्वार्थ की गहरी नींद में सो रहे है। pic.twitter.com/ilSbFUawyx
— Lalu Prasad Yadav (@laluprasadrjd) January 6, 2021
Coming from Lalu Yadav, it may sound a bit rich. But the rising graph of crime rate in Bihar has got the NDA regime worried.
Compare the number of such incidents in 2004, the last year of Lalu-Rabri regime, and the first ten months of 2020 for which police data is available — 2,649 murders in 2020 (January-October) as against 3,861 in 2004; 1,244 rapes in 2020 (January-October) as against 1,063 in 2004; 6,500 kidnappings in 2020 (January-October) as compared to 2,566 in 2004. There is a catch in these numbers, though.
While the incidents of rape and murder seem comparable between 2004 and 2020, other figures don’t present the correct picture.
For instance, the incidents of kidnapping in 2020 might look alarming, but ‘kidnapping for ransom’ is still far less during the Nitish Kumar regime — 26 in January-October 2020 as against 411 in 2004. There were 1,295 dacoities in 2004, but only 184 in 2020.
The rising incidents of murders and rapes, however, are a matter of big worry for Nitish, especially when the BJP has been demanding that he give up the Home portfolio.
On 6 January, a teenaged girl was allegedly gang-raped on her way to a coaching institute in Muzaffarpur. A couple of days ago, a woman in her 30s was allegedly gangraped in Khagaria and the culprits even released a video clip of it on social media.
Khagaria Superintendent of Police Amrish Kumar told The Print that investigations are on in the case and one person has been arrested.
The infamous practice of kidnapping eligible youth for marriage, locally known as ‘Pakadwa Byaah’, also made a comeback.
On 6 January, one Shivam Kumar, who had recently been recruited in the Army, was kidnapped and forcefully married in Bihar’s Lakhisarai district.
District SP Sunil Kumar said Shivam was rescued within four hours of his abduction. But there was no arrest till Friday.
In the last six months, there have been at least four cases of forced marriages in Bihar, said police sources.
Besides, political violence has also reared its ugly head.
On 1 January, a local JD(U) leader in Aurangabad, Baijnath Chandravanshi, was assaulted and killed. On 24 December, RJD leader Ravi Yadav was shot dead in Bhojpur. In the same month, Araria’s BJP leader Kaushal Singh was attacked by goons.
No one listens to Nitish: RJD
After his fifth review meeting Wednesday, Nitish Kumar told reporters he is keeping a close watch on the law and order situation.
“…I have concentrated on the CID of the home department. I was reviewing the statistics of the last two years on crime taking place under various police stations. I have told them to prepare a list of what they need. I have told them that police investigations should take place in time. I have also emphasised the need for training the policemen,” he said.
The CM said he would keep reviewing the law and order situation. “Every person related to crime control is on it,” he added.
The opposition RJD, meanwhile, said the repeated review meetings of Nitish are no good.
“Nobody listens to the chief minister,” RJD leader and Lalu’s son Tejaswi Yadav said in a statement earlier this week.
But BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi told ThePrint that Lalu has been targeting the NDA government in Bihar only after his attempts to “destabilise” the administration failed.
“When Lalu Prasad was engaged in trying to bring NDA MLAs to his fold before the Speaker’s election, he did not have any complaints about law and order in Bihar. It started after he failed to destabilise the NDA government,” he said.
Difference between 2005 and 2021
When Nitish came to power in 2005, retired police officers recall, he held a meeting of senior officers and told them, “I have been voted to power by the people on the promise that I will end ‘Jungle Raj’. It’s for you to deliver and I am willing to give you resources and new laws.”
A senior police officer had then told the CM that he needed only one assurance, that he would not interfere in the police’s work. Nitish agreed and the police got cracking by arresting and throwing in jail criminals under Arms Act.
Arrested criminals were convicted within a month since the incident happened. The police also started launching raids and former Army men were recruited to deal with organised crime and Naxal violence.
But in 2021, the situation has changed. Speedy trials have been diluted and former Army men have been posted at police stations.
“Army men are trained in the best manner in the use of arms. But they aren’t trained to implement civilian laws. Once they were introduced in police stations, they began to work like Bihar Police,” said a former DGP, who did not want to be quoted.
“Also, in 2005, Nitish had the support of most of the police officers. Today, the police force is split as those belonging to a particular caste get plum posts and the CM also has blue-eyed boys,” he added.
In 2005, the former DGP said, the criminals were identified and it was easy for the police to target them. But over the years, a new generation of criminals have emerged, which the police fail to identify due to intelligence gaps, he added.
Another former DGP, who didn’t want to be named, told ThePrint that DGPs have now taken a backseat in controlling crime.
“CM Nitish Kumar will outclass many police officers when it comes to discussions on controlling law and order. But the bottom line is that it is not the CM who controls crime. It is the DGP. In 2005, there were DGPs who took responsibility and initiative in controlling crime. Therefore, new ways to control crime began. But in the past few years, DGPs have tended to remain behind the CM,” he said.
“Action has not been initiated against police officers of the rank of SPs and above. Police officers have indulged in politics like in the FIR lodged in the Sushant Singh Rajput’s case when rules were overlooked and Bihar Police team was sent to Mumbai. Bihar Police has stopped functioning professionally. The writ of the DGP has to be restored, otherwise, no matter how many review meetings the CM holds, the situation will not improve,” he added.