4,849 kidnappings and counting... in Bihar | india | Hindustan Times
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4,849 kidnappings and counting... in Bihar

india Updated: Aug 04, 2007 10:35 IST
Imran Khan
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This is no fiction: nearly 5,000 people have been abducted in Bihar in the past year, of which 2,217 were kidnapped in the first half of 2007.

MP Gupta, a senior lawyer of the Patna High Court, quotes a court report as saying that 4,849 cases of kidnapping took place in Bihar from July 2006 to June 2007.

"This high figure of kidnapping cases in Bihar in one year is not mine or any one else's. It is a court report and an authentic one," Gupta told IANS.

The figure has been compiled from reports submitted to the high court by district judges of various districts . "These figures of abduction are authentic as the different district judges had submitted the reports following the high court order," Gupta said.

While the Nitish Kumar government claims that law and order has improved in the state since it came to power in November 2005, local Hindi dailies report a steady increase in cases of murder, loot, extortion and banditry.

Gupta, who is also general secretary of the Council for Protection of Public Rights and Welfare which files over 200 public interest litigations (PILs) related to crime, public rights and social issues, questioned Nitish Kumar's much publicised sushasan or good governance.

"There is no sense of good governance in Bihar, it is a big joke as the figures of kidnapping say," Gupta said.

According to Gupta, the Patna High Court was to hear a PIL in connection with the latest figures on kidnapping on Thursday but the hearing has been postponed to next week.

"The state government will have to answer to the court about its failure to check kidnappings. These figures of the court indicate clearly that the number of registered kidnapping cases increased," said Gupta.

Bihar's kidnapping industry is clearly thriving. Lawyers, doctors, contractors, businessmen and school students have been the prime targets of abductors for ransom.

Hundreds of well-to-do professionals have migrated to other states or sent their children to boarding schools outside the state.

Gupta said the Patna High Court had asked district judges to submit monthly reports about abductions because it doubted the authenticity of figures provided by the Bihar government.

Gupta said dozens of people, including schoolchildren, were killed after being abducted in the past year. "This is a disturbing new trend."

Gupta said a total of 14,276 abduction cases were pending in courts in the state. He alleged that nearly 5,000 criminals involved in abduction cases had not yet been arrested.

Bihar, reputedly India's most lawless state, saw its kidnapping industry take a deadly shape in the early 1990s, coinciding with the rise of now Railway Minister Lalu Prasad in state politics.

Police officials - both serving and retired - say that crime gangs have proliferated because almost all political parties in Bihar patronise criminals and thugs to win elections.

Over the years, many criminals have taken to politics and become legislators and MPs.

When kidnappings occur, huge ransom amounts are sought - ranging from Rs 100,000 to millions of rupees. Barring rare exceptions, almost all kidnap victims have been males.

"When people see policemen saluting politicians still involved in crime, what respect can one have for a government and what hope is there?" asked a disgusted Patna resident.