Jungle raj returns to haunt Bihar

Arun Srivastava

In a late-night encounter in Salarpur diara (a small island) on the Ganga River on the outskirts of Khagaria, a young police officer Ashish Kumar was shot dead by dreaded gangster Dinesh Muni while Nitish Kumar was hauling up his police officials at a seminar for their abject neglect of citizens’ lives.
The remote Salarpur diara is known to be the hiding place for notorious criminals. Almost all the top criminals of the region operate from the reverine belt. Last year Muni had survived a bullet injury after he was shot during an encounter with local gangsters in the same area.
What a coincidence that on the day the chief minister pulled up the officials of Bihar police and reproached them not to leave things to “bhagwan bharose” (God's will), in the night around 2 am Ashish Kumar was shot when a team led by him raided Dinesh Mani’s hideout after a tip off!
Nitish Kumar’s sushaasan or good governance has been under fire in recent years, with many important people, including senior journalist Rajdeo Ranjan in Siwan district, having been murdered. From BJP to RJD, every political party complained about the return of jungle raj in the state. The shooting of the journalist was reminiscent of the nineties when Lalu Prasad’s regime had earned the tag jungle raj.
Addressing top officials after inaugurating the swanky police headquarters in Patna, Nitish stressed on "disciplined work culture" and warned senior officers to get their act together and "keep crime under control." The warning itself was a bit of surprise as just one month ago he was eulogising his police officers. The recent spurt in criminal activities and the number of people killed by the goons underline the fact that they were enjoying total impunity. While the criminals perpetrated a reign of terror the chief minister looked the other way.
Nitish’s remarks in the presence of the chief secretary and the Director General of Police, come in the backdrop of recent criticism faced by his government after the CBI probing the sexual abuse of minor girls at a shelter home in Muzaffarpur found a human skeleton.
The chief minister said democratically elected governments "work for all, which include the police department and now it is the turn of the police to rise to the occasion". He even directed the police department to take necessary measures to protect themselves from goon attacks and stressed the need to ensure that contingents carrying out operations against such law breakers are adequately manned.
Surprisingly Nitish did not speak about the responsibility towards the common people. Not a day passes without at least two persons getting killed. Even murders in the state capital have become a regular event. With a section of the police officials getting disgusted with the style of governance, Nitish has become weary and does not want to allow the situation drift just ahead of the 2019 elections. He is well aware of the fact that to perform well in the election it is imperative that they should be seen on his right side.
According to police records, crimes against women during Nitish’s NDA government have gone up substantially; an increase of 24 percent in criminal activities and 23 per cent in rape cases till June 2018. During the last eleven months from August 2017 to August 2018, around 2.31 lakh cases were registered. Of these 1,300 relate to rape and sexual abuse and 2,722 murders. This is in comparison to the grand alliance record of 1.91 lakh crimes, with 1,044 cases of rape and 2,468 killings having been registered between August 2016 and June 2017.
Parading naked women on the streets has become a common mode of punishment in the villages. Politicians with muscle power and mercenaries at their command indulge in such activities to demonstrate their political and administrative clout. It is ironical that Nitish claims one of the lowest crime rates in the country for his state, which is in sharp contrast to the police records and people’s perception based on the ground reality. (IPA)

Saturday, 27 October, 2018