In Bihar, people seem to be running out on patience and have started delivering "instant justice" by lynching suspected criminals. At least 25 people have been lynched in the past three weeks in the state, which even otherwise has a high crime rate.
A senior police officer admitted that over 20 criminals were lynched in August. "Police are aware of the rising incidents of lynching both in urban and rural areas," he said.
In some cases, the "criminals" were lynched even as the police looked on and their family members and relatives protested. At least in some cases, the victims clearly appeared to be innocent.
Jagender Prasad, a businessman, said, "People are fed up with growing lawlessness and rising crimes. As the police do little to curb the crimes, they (people) have started punishing the criminals."
Madan Singh, another businessman, agreed that people have no option but to lynch criminals so as to send a warning to others.
Doman Kahar and Raju Kahar were lynched by an angry mob in Patna last week as they were reportedly trying to snatch a mobile and other valuables from a doctor and Rs 9,000 from a businessman. The residents caught them. But instead of handing them over to the police, they beat them to death.
Sushil Singh, another suspected criminal, was lynched in Rajokhar village in Araria district. He was caught as he was trying to break into a Rashtriya Janata Dal leader's house. His accomplice, who survived, is in critical condition. In some cases the "criminals" seemed to be innocent.
The innocent included four Dalit youths from the Nut caste who were beaten to death in Balbatra village in Bhojpur district. They were accused of stealing a buffalo. Following a complaint, the National Human Rights Commission has directed the Bihar government to submit a report on their killing.
Similarly, an agitated mob killed Lallu Lal and Chirkut after they were trying to sell two stolen buffalos in a village in Rohtas district. Three more Dalits were lynched in Siwan district as they were trying to rob a house in Siktiya village.
More than a dozen such incidents have been reported from West Champaran, Saran, Munger, Shekhpura, Jehanabad and Supaul districts in the past three weeks.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar admitted in the state assembly early August that 1,618 murders and 97 kidnapping cases had been reported in just six months. Last year, 1,688 murders and 117 cases of kidnapping had been reported.