Bihar remains as lawless as ever. More than 900 people have been abducted across the state in the first three months of 2007.
Newspapers report a steady increase in cases of murders, loot, extortion and banditry, indicating little has changed since a new government came to power in the state in 2005. And in the wake of a series of abductions of school students in the state, more and more people are questioning Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's claims of providing better governance.
MP Gupta, a senior lawyer of the Patna High Court, quoted a court report as saying that 903 cases of kidnappings took place in Bihar from January 1 to March 31. January accounted for 333 abductions, February for 361 and 209 kidnappings took place in March.
According to officials, over 2,000 got kidnapped in 2006 alone.
Bihar's kidnapping industry is clearly thriving. Lawyers, doctors, contractors and businessmen and school students have been the prime targets of abductors for ransom.
Hundreds of well-to-do professionals have migrated to bigger cities or sent their children to boarding schools outside the state.
Gupta is also general secretary of the Council for Protection of Public Rights and Welfare, which files public interest litigations related to crimes.
"The figures of abduction are authentic," Gupta told the agency. "These are based on the reports of different district judges submitted to the high court."
Gupta said the Patna High Court had asked district judges to submit monthly reports about abductions because the court doubted the authenticity of the figures of the Bihar government.
Giving horrifying details, Gupta said that dozens of people, including school children, were killed after being abducted in last one year. "It is a disturbing new trend."
He said a total of 14,276 abduction cases were pending in courts in the state.
Gupta alleged that nearly 5,000 criminals involved in abduction cases had not yet been arrested.
The Patna High Court early this year directed the government to trace 144 children and 581 women reported missing since 2001. The court also took note of reports that 44 of the abducted children had been killed.
The government informed the court that 1,078 children had been kidnapped in the state since 2001.
The court, responding to pubic interest litigation, expressed serious concern over the police failure to recover the missing children and asked the government to submit a report within six weeks.
When he took power in November 2005, Nitish Kumar promised to turn Bihar into a crime-free state in three months.
During the previous government of Rabri Devi, the opposition had made the poor law and order a major issue. Clearly, Bihar has not changed.