It was a dark Diwali in many homes across Bihar this year with families having little or no news about their abducted members.
There was gloom in the Choudhary home on Saturday. Anand Choudhary, who owns an Apollo tyre agency in Purnea district, was abducted along with his wife Mamta Kumari, who is seven months pregnant, last week.
On Diwali, the family prayed for the couple's safe return. "We prayed for my son and daughter-in-law's safe return. There is no question of celebration," Vinod Choudhary, Anand's father, said.
The abductors have demanded Rs 5 million to release the couple.
Some other families, whose near and dear ones have been missing for weeks and months, also spent a dark Diwali.
There was sadness in BC Sharma's home. Sharma, a homeopath in Nawada district, was abducted in August. Police are yet to make a breakthrough in the case.
"There is still no trace of my husband. The police just give us false assurances," said Manju Sharma.
Sunaina Devi, along with her two children, spent Diwali in darkness to protest police failure in finding her husband who has been missing since April. Sunaina approached top cops and even the chief minister, but nothing helped her find her husband.
Mahesh Rai, her husband, was abducted along with three others from a restaurant in Hajipur in Vaishali district. Rai, a businessman, was the sole bread earner of the family. Sunaina attempted suicide in August to protest the failure of the police to trace her husband.
Just a day ahead of Diwali, another businessman Rakesh Kumar was abducted. Kumar, who had gone out to distribute sweets, never returned.
Several families in Patna, Begusarai, Vaishali, Samastipur, Darbhanga, Chapra and other districts also did not celebrate Diwali.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who came to power in November 2005, had promised to turn Bihar into a crime-free state within three months. But police records suggest there has not been much change in the crime scenario.
The chief minister admitted in August that 97 abductions for ransom had been reported between January and June, against 117 abductions in the corresponding period in 2005.
The state has witnessed a series of kidnappings in the past few years. Lawyers, doctors and wealthy businessmen have been the prime targets of extortionists. Hundreds of well-to-do professionals have migrated to bigger cities or have sent their children to boarding schools.
According to official statistics, over 1,110 people, including children and women, have been kidnapped in the state since 1995.
In September, the government informed the Patna High Court that 904 children had been kidnapped in Bihar since 2001. Of the 904 children reported abducted, 766 were rescued, 40 were killed by kidnappers and 98 are still missing.
The affidavit was filed by the government in response to a pubic interest litigation on the abduction of children, businessmen and professionals.