Need money to recharge your mobile phone and don't have any? Just steal a bunch of bananas and sell it to buy a recharge coupon - that is what poor youths in Bihar's Raghopur area are doing to keep their mobiles ringing.
With some cellular companies providing free SIM cards along with cell phones, many poor youths have purchased mobiles. But they don't have money to keep the chatting going.
They have started sneaking into banana fields and stealing bunches of the fruit to pay for the coupons.
This new phenomena is giving sleepless nights to banana cultivators in Raghopur diara, riverine area in Vaishali district, known for its large banana fields.
The youths steal bananas and sell them at throwaway prices to recharge cell phones, said Mahendra Rai, a major cultivator in Raghopur diara.
"Cellphone ka naya maza lene wale mazdoor aur charwahe adhikansh yuva warg ke, kela ka than chori kar ke usi paise se recharge karwatein hain (the youths, mostly labourers, are stealing bananas to recharge their cell phones)," Santosh Rai, a middle-aged banana farmer, told IANS over phone.
The theft of bananas has forced Ramji Rai, another cultivator, to deploy guards in his big field.
Usually, a single large banana bunch is sold by farmers between Rs 25 to Rs 40, depending on the quality. However, the youths are selling the fruit at throwaway prices.
"A recharge coupon is available for Rs 10 to Rs 50. Selling a bunch of bananas gives the youths enough money to purchase the coupons," said Rajesh Kumar, a local businessman.
Till date nearly 50 cases of banana theft have been detected, but only one case has been reported in the local police station.
Raghopur is represented by former Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi in the state assembly. The area is considered a stronghold of Rabri and her husband Lalu Prasad, Rashtriya Janata Dal chief and former railway minister.