Patna: Five days after a 17-year-old girl was allegedly abducted at gunpoint from her residence in a village in Muzaffarpur district of Bihar, the police have failed to make any breakthrough in tracing her.
Angered by police inaction, the villagers as well as students’ and women’s organisations linked to the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) have been staging protests since the past two days.
What is ironical is that this is happening at a time when much hue and cry is being made by a powerful section, seeking justice for actor Sushant Singh Rajput, who hailed from Bihar and allegedly died of suicide in June in Mumbai, while there is more or less total silence over the kidnapping of a minor girl.
Incidentally, the shocking abduction incident has also been totally missing from local media, except one or two small news item in the inside pages of regional dailies.
Even Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who in his first virtual rally on September 7 ahead of the upcoming Assembly polls, did not forget to mention how his government had recommended a CBI probe following a request by Sushant’s family, failed to mention any action taken to find the whereabouts of the untraceable girl.
Ironically, the chief minister spoke about how the rule of law had been established in the state, at a time when over a dozen killing incidents have been reported in Bihar in the past few days, including of a SBI bank manager and a businessman. In another incident, a 16-year-old boy was found murdered in Jamui district after his family failed to pay the ransom demanded by kidnappers. Also, armed liquor mafia attacked and injured a police official in broad daylight in Patna three days ago.
According to Muzaffarpur Police, the girl was kidnapped from her residence at Dighra village under Sadar police station on the intervening night of September 3 and 4 by armed dacoits, who first looted valuables and forcibly took her away.
A day after she was abducted, angry villagers blocked National Highway 28 for hours to protest against the incident. Later, they staged a protest on Saturday and Sunday, while All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA) and All India Students’ Association (AISA) activists staged a protest on Monday.
The abducted girl’s father, Sambhunath Pandey, who runs a grocery shop, told NewsClick: “Police have done nothing till date. Only assurances will not make a difference.”
Police officials have admitted that this was a rare case as alleged dacoits had looted and kidnapped a girl.
Muzaffarpur Senior Superintendent of Police Jayant Kant said police teams were working to trace the abducted girl. He added that there has been no demand of ransom by abductors in the case, and said, “A special investigation team has intensified the search operation.”
Also read: Spurt in Crimes Cast Shadow on NDA Govt's Rule of Law in Bihar
A Patna-based women’s rights activist, Kanchan Bala, said it was unfortunate that such a shocking incident is hardly getting any space in the national media. “For national and local media as well, the suicide of an actor is the only issue. People from outside the state may not be aware of dacoits kidnapping a girl from her house in Bihar five days ago and the police have not recovered her so far. We are pained and frustrated.”
AIPWA local leader Sharda Devi said the kidnapping case reflected how unsafe girls or women were in Bihar. “If a girl can be abducted from inside her house, where is safety and security? Under the NDA rule led by Nitish Kumar, girls are not safe. There is no justice or good governance, purely jungle raj. Why did Nitish Kumar not announce the recovery of the abducted girl within 24 hours during his first virtual rally?” she said.
CPI(ML) leader Dhirendra Jha said the so-called ‘double engine’ government of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Janata Dal- United (JD-U) had failed to check and control crime, which is giving sleepless nights to common people. “There is a total lawlessness, the atmosphere is full of fear, with women becoming the easiest target of criminals. However, the government and its administration are busy in the preparations for polls likely in October-November. The government has no concern for the safety and security of people. The CPI (ML) has been demanding safe recovery of the abducted girl and the party will launch a statewide agitation if she is not found soon,” he said.
Bihar Women Commission chairperson Dilmani Mishra has written to Muzaffatpur SSP to submit a report on action taken in this case.
Former minister and JD(U) leader Ramchandar Prasad Singh said that he had written a letter to the CM and spoken to DGP and Muzaffarpur SSP in connection with the recovery of the abducted girl.
In Muzaffarpur, residents fear that this is similar to another one that took place a few years ago in the district. In 2012, a minor girl, a student of Class 7 at a public school in Muzaffarpur, was abducted from her home. But even after eight years, she has not been traced despite a CBI probe into the case following protests by the Opposition.
Again, two years ago, the Muzaffarpur shelter home rape case hit national headlines after a social audit report prepared by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences went public. At least 34 girls were sexually abused in a shelter home. Following this, the Bihar Social Welfare Department had filed a complaint with the police. The shelter home was run by main accused in the case, Brajesh Thakur’s NGO. After continuous protests by the Opposition, Thakur was arrested and the Bihar Social Welfare Minister, Manju Verma, was forced to resign owing to reports alleging close links of her husband with Thakur.
Also read: Bihar: Fear of Lawlessness Haunts People, Nearly A Dozen Killings in 24 Hours