The murder of another engineer along with a grain trader and a supervisor with the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) on Monday evening has prompted the Opposition to accuse the new JD(U)-RJD government of promoting jungle raj or lawlessness in Bihar.
Police in Vaishali recovered the mutilated body of Ankit Jha, who was an engineer with Reliance Communications, barely two days after two engineers were killed in Darbhanga.
Besides, unidentified assailants shot dead a grain trader in Muzaffarpur district and NTPC employee Nawal Kushwaha at a market in Bhagalpur. The motive behind these murders was yet to be ascertained.
The spate of killings has given the beleaguered NDA in Bihar a much-needed handle to target chief minister Nitish Kumar, reviving its pre-poll allegation that his tie-up with RJD chief Lalu Prasad will herald “Jungle Raj 2” in the state. Jungle raj is the euphemism for deteriorating law and order when the RJD was in power.
But government and police data didn’t show any significant rise in killings over the past five years.
The state witnessed 284 and 294 murders in November and December (till December 25) in 2015, against 300 and 239 cases respectively in the corresponding period in 2013. The figures for November-December 2010, at the start of the second term of Kumar’s government partnering the BJP, stood at 261 and 293 respectively.
Union minister and LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan alleged that “jungle raj is back” in the state while BJP leader Rajeev Pratap Rudy criticised Kumar and Lalu Prasad for failing to bring the situation under control.
“It would not be fair to say that people are paying for what they deserve but we all knew that this is going to happen in Bihar. The fact is BJP had promised good governance, people rejected us. They accepted Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar as their leaders,” Rudy said.
JD(U) spokesperson Neeraj Kumar countered the NDA leaders, saying National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) and state crime bureau data didn’t agree with the allegations. “When they were our partner, Nitish Kumar was the home minister and even now he holds the department. Criminals have dared the state government and soon they will face the music,” he said.
For his part, chief minister Kumar was quick to respond to the killings with a terse message to the police top brass to go after criminal gangs and wipe them out, whatever the cost. He said the state would not take the rap for failure of police in containing crimes.
RJD chief Prasad advised Kumar to deal sternly with criminals who, according to him, were out to divert the government’s focus on development. “These criminals are the same set of people who wanted to tarnish the state’s image during my tenure.”
Prasad asked BJP leaders to stop trying to acquire political mileage out of plight of the people by raking up the jungle raj row.