Patna: With daily reports showing a spurt in crime including murder, rape, kidnapping for ransom, loot, dacoity and growing clout of liquor mafia in the dry state of Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar reviewed the law and order situation on Saturday for the third time within a fortnight. Kumar said that maintaining law and order is the main priority of the state government and he has instructed top police officials again to check and control crimes and take action against criminals. But it has not allayed the concerns raised by opposition parties.
As the opposition slams the government, the fear of lawlessness haunts the common man in Bihar. According to official figures from the police headquarters, in the last two months, the state has witnessed 505 murders, 176 rapes, 13 abductions for ransom, 5,073 thefts and 704 burglaries.
More than a dozen people have been killed in separate incidents in state capital Patna, and other districts in the last two days. Two rice mill owners, who are siblings, have gone missing from Naubatpur near Patna for the last four days. Their family suspects that both were kidnapped for ransom. A group of armed criminals in broad daylight looted gold ornaments worth over Rs 5 crore in Darbhanga district that raised panic among gold traders in the state.
The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in Bihar, led by the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) chief Nitish Kumar and two deputy chief ministers from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is in the line of fire from the opposition including Left parties. Opposition leaders alleged that the spike in crime cases reflected a ground reality – criminals let free to prosper with the police failing to keep them in check.
It is extremely rare that Nitish Kumar would hold a third high-level meeting on the law-and-order situation within fifteen days, which he has, and it may be reflective of his helplessness as he has failed to ensure crime control since the new NDA government came to power mid-last month. It is all the more significant as rule of law has been the main selling point for Nitish Kumar after he came to power in November 2005 while using the same tool to target his political rival Lalu Prasad Yadav, chief of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). Kumar has repeatedly blamed the RJD chief for “jungle raj” during his party’s rule from 1990 to 2005.
According to sources at the police headquarters in Patna, Kumar, during the third review meeting on law and order, admitted for the first time that the liquor mafia has become powerful and directed the police to take action against them. “The CM has instructed to identify people who are involved in illegal liquor trade and act against them,” a source told NewsClick. Kumar has also ordered police to increase night patrolling and frequent field visits by police officials.
On Wednesday (December 9), the chief minister had held a second review meeting, only 10 days after the first such high-level meeting on law and order.
But Kumar’s crime-control meetings have hardly made any difference in decreasing reported incidents of crimes. It appears that the self-proclaimed “double engine” government led by Nitish Kumar, who hardly misses an opportunity to remind the people that he has established rule of law in Bihar, is failing on the front. This is the very point that the opposition has used to slam the NDA government in the state.
Taking the ground reality into consideration, Bihar’s opposition leader, RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav, have been attacking Kumar and his ally BJP asking why they were silent on rising crime incidents. Dubbing Kumar’s regime “mahajungalraj”, Tejashwi Yadav tweeted: “There are Mahajungleraj of BJP-supported criminals and Danabraj of JDU’s protected goons in Bihar. Despite having two deputy chief ministers BJP MLAs and ministers are saying that criminals and police are out of control. Who is guilty? Do not run from questions, answer the people.” Taking a dig at Kumar, he added, “Also ask the one who has been fearmongering in the name of jungle raj.”
बिहार में BJP समर्थित अपराधियों का महाजंगलराज और JDU संरक्षित गुंडो का दानवराज है।दो-दो उपमुख्यमंत्री होने के बावजूद BJP के विधायक और मंत्री कह रहे है कि अपराधी और पुलिस बेक़ाबू है। दोषी कौन?सवालों से भागिए मत,जनता को जवाब दिजीए।
जो जंगलराज के नाम से डरा रहे थे उनसे भी पूछ लीजिए pic.twitter.com/WmhDZpQWrQ
— Tejashwi Yadav (@yadavtejashwi) December 11, 2020
Satyanarayan Madan, who heads Jan Pahal, a civil society organisation in Bihar, said that there was a big question on why crime went out of control after the Nitish-led NDA government returned to power. “Nitish has lost command and his focus is to manage his chair with blessings from the BJP’s mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. This factor is understood by administrative officials including the police and the criminals,” he said, adding that, “In a bid to send a message to people that he is still serious about controlling crime, Nitish was forced to held three meetings on law and order within two weeks.”
D M Diwakar, a social scientist based out of Patna, said the JD-U chief has lost the grip on ruling as reflected through out-of-control crimes despite his repeated instructions to law enforcement to check the same. “It is going to be his big challenge in coming days as none other than his ruling ally BJP’s leaders questioned poor law and order in the state. By raising this, BJP leaders have made it clear that it was a failure of Nitish Kumar,” Diwakar said.