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Lawlessly yours!

Lawlessly yours!

Author: R K Nandan
Publication: The Economic Times
Date: November 28, 2004
URL: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/938721.cms

The Bihar government's offer of a reward of Rs 3 lakh for vital information regarding the November 19 kidnapping of two top National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) officials involved with developing the state's rural roadways says it all, coming as it does in the wake of the Diwali day murder in his Patna clinic of medical practitioner Dr N K Aggarwal who had been sent a series of extortion notes by thugs.

Kidnapping and extortion has now become the 'industry' with the highest growth-rate in Bihar. There have been instances of kidnappers even claiming that no one can touch them since they enjoy the patronage of the powers that be.

And with state assembly elections due next year, the rationale of the kidnappers and gangs is that the politicians need them more than they need doctors or engineers or industrialists!

It is, after all, the gangs which ensure that the voters fall in line in more ways than one on the day of polling whether it is in Siwan, Chapra or Madhepura.

Nothing illustrates this unholy nexus more starkly than the fact that the Supreme Court wondered during this summer's Lok Sabha elections how the supposedly jailed accused Pappu Yadav who had been taken to the Patna Medical College Hospital for treatment was subsequently moving around in Madhepura!

Pappu Yadav, who had been arrested in connection with the murder of trade union activist Ajit Sarkar, is now the Lok Sabha MP from Madhepura where he successfully contested a by-election as a candidate of Laloo Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal.

NHPC general manager T Mandal and chief engineer K K Singh were abducted on Friday, November 19, by armed gangs in Vaishali district. NHPC is one of five Central agencies which have bagged contracts to build rural roads in Bihar under the Prime Minister's Gram Sadak Yojna.

NHPC is the only one of those five PSUs to have started work and has now threatened to withdraw its operations if anything happens to the two abducted officials.

The clueless Bihar government has announced a reward for anyone who provides information leading to a breakthrough in the case while its home commissioner is in touch with the UP and Nepal police in case the kidnappers have crossed the state or international border.

The other Central agencies which have bagged contracts for building rural roads are waiting to see what happens.

Bihar has become a talking point for the national media, somewhat akin to the position taken by Baghdad or Falluja in the daily coverage of the international TV networks! And the attention can only get more focused the nearer one gets to the state assembly elections.

The inevitable questions are being asked why the Congress, which is supporting the Mrs Laloo Yadav government in Bihar, is keeping mum about the present situation even while Sonia, Rahul, et al, keep harping about the "breakdown in law and order" in the Mulayam Singh-ruled state of UP!

The situation in Bihar has come under the spotlight of the national media following the murder of Dr Aggarwal and the indefinite state-wide agitation by doctors protesting the government's failure to provide any security.

Bihar's network of hospitals and clinics was paralysed by the strike which has since been called off. Ironically, within days of the agitation launched by the doctors, Navlesh Dubey, one of Aggarwal's murderers, was reportedly killed by the cops in an encounter in Patna's Rajendra Nagar colony.

It was also stated that the gang responsible for Dr Aggarwal's murder was headed by one Bindu Singh who is imprisoned in Bhagalpur Central Jail. The fact that the normally clueless state police was suddenly able to crack down on the gang responsible indicates that public pressure works even in Bihar!

All of which still does not add up to the proverbial happy ending. Media reports from Patna indicate that it was not just the doctors but the extortionists who struck during the agitation! Even while the agitation was on, 20 doctors reportedly received extortion letters asking for amounts ranging from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 20 lakh.

Expressions like law and order and public service are perhaps taken seriously only at the time of the swearing- in of ministers! Motihari, once remembered as the birth- place of that revolutionary writer George Orwell, is now perhaps better known as the one-train town where the action takes place in E Nivas' 1999 release 'Shool' where the life and career of honest police inspector Samar Pratap Singh played by Manoj Bajpai is destroyed by gangster-turned-MLA Bacchu Yadav played by Sayaji Shinde.

'Shool' ends with the distraught cop gunning down Bacchu Yadav on the floor of the Legislative Assembly. Hopefully, Bihar will find other solutions more in keeping with its name!

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