Kahan hai mera Kislay? The four words that laid the foundation for Bihar's 2005 regime change | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Kahan hai mera Kislay? The four words that laid the foundation for Bihar's 2005 regime change

Apr 22, 2024 01:44 AM IST

In 2005, the abduction of 14-year-old Kislay Gupta galvanised public outrage in Bihar, contributing to the downfall of the RJD regime

It was in 2005 when former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s “Kahan hai mera Kislay? (Where is my Kislay)” remark at an election meeting at Bhagalpur shook the Bihar government and eventually paved the way for the end of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) regime over the breakdown of law-and-order in Bihar.

In 2005, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s “Kahan hai mera Kislay (Where is my Kislay?)” remark at an election meeting at Bhagalpur shook the Bihar government(PTI photo) PREMIUM
In 2005, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s “Kahan hai mera Kislay (Where is my Kislay?)” remark at an election meeting at Bhagalpur shook the Bihar government(PTI photo)

Kislay, a student of Delhi Public School, Patna, was just 14 when he was abducted on January 19, 2005, from Patna’s Patel Nagar locality while on his way to board his school bus. The incident sparked a massive public outcry against the state and put the RJD government on the defensive.

Such was the jolt from Vajpayee’s call that the Bihar police were galvanised into action, taking the case as a challenge.

The then superintendent of police (Patna) NH Khan, currently posted as additional director general (Economic Offence Unit), recalled how the Kislay abduction case became a challenge for the police after it came into the national spotlight just ahead of the state assembly election.

“The kidnapping occurred in broad daylight. As it happened just before the state assembly elections, it soon became a poll agenda. Even school associations and children came to the roads to protest. We had to send daily reports to the then President APJ Abdul Kalam through the Governor’s secretariat, which is enough to illustrate the kind of atmosphere in the state. The police worked under tremendous pressure,” he said.

Khan said that a war room was developed at the Sachivalaya police station. Till the child was safely recovered, there were countless sleepless nights for the police. The kidnappers had demanded 25 lakh as ransom for the safe release of Kislay. His father was then posted as assistant commissioner, commercial taxes in Patna. "Despite his understandable predicament, Kislay’s father KK Gupta held trust in the police and he refused to pay even a rupee as ransom,” said Khan.

The police were not so tech savvy those days, but with the help of central agencies, scientific investigation was done to track the child. "Police first tracked the call through which the ransom was demanded, which pointed to the involvement of gangster Rakesh Kumar alias Chunnu Thakur, then lodged in Hajipur jail. The police then apprehended Thakur's wife and ten of his associates," said Khan.

Kislay was recovered on February 2, 2005. Later, the police received confirmation that he was kidnapped by the notorious gangster Vickky Thakur and his associates on behalf of Chunnu Thakur. Within 24 hours of the rescue, two of the kidnappers were killed in Delhi in an encounter. On February 9, 2005, Vicky Thakur was killed in an encounter with the Patna Police near the Dumra outpost within the Shastri Nagar police station area.

Thakur was a notorious gangster who faces 42 cases in Muzaffarpur district alone, Khan added. He has been accused of murder and was also actively involved in liquor smuggling. The notorious criminal sought to escape the clutches and escaped to Nepal; however, the police recently nabbed him while he was trying to sneak into Bihar for a family function.

“One good thing that happened after the killing of three kidnappers by police was that the kidnapping for ransom stopped in Patna," said Khan.

The way Kislay was brazenly lifted from a posh Patna area at around 6.15 am and taken away in a Tata Sumo was the ammunition for the Opposition to target the state government for its purported lawlessness, which turned into a big poll issue.

That stamp of lawlessness and "jungle raj" is still the biggest weapon against the RJD, which has struggled to regain power on its own since 2005. In 2010, it was reduced to just 22 seats in the 243-member Bihar assembly and it gained no seat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Almost two decades later, as RJD tries to turn a new leaf under new leadership in the hope that the past is well and truly buried in the midst of fast-paced politics, Kislay’s house "Manokamna Bhawan" remains a terse reminder of this sordid case – deserted, with a lock hanging on the ground floor and two tenants staying on the first floor for the last three years.

“All that we know is that Kislay lives in a foreign country and his parents are also with him for the last few months. His parents occasionally visit Patna, but no one has seen Kislay,” said a tenant, on condition of anonymity.

A neighbour, Jyotish Prasad Gupta (74) who still has memories of the disturbing case, said that Kislay remained outside Bihar after his rescue and later settled in the US as an engineer.

"I have plans and dreams like any other child. I want to become an engineer and serve my country," Kislay had told reporters after being rescued. And having got a lifeline, he was able to successfully chase his dream.

“Though kidnapping for ransom those days was described as an industry in Bihar, Kislay became a talking point and a poll issue due to its timing and Vajpayee’s emotional appeal. That was, perhaps, willed that way for Kislay’s release. While he was lucky, many others were not and it is the horror tales of pre-2005 Bihar that CM Nitish Kumar still reminds the people of at every election meeting when he brings up people preferring to stay indoors after dusk,” said social analyst Nawal Kishor Choudhary.

Choudhary said that law and order became the biggest weapon against the RJD and it still is, as the people of the older generations could easily relate with it, even though the younger generation may find the horror tales of abduction for ransom quite unbelievable.

Also read: Missing in the campaign heat


Also read: Maya revives west UP statehood debate


2024 Lok Sabha polls: Campaign for second phase ends in eight west Uttar Pradesh constituencies


Tell us what your First Vote will stand for in a short video & get a chance to be featured on HT’s social media handles. Click here to know more!

Get Current Updates on India News, Elections 2024, Lok Sabha Election 2024 Live, Delhi Election 2024 Live, Election 2024 Date, Weather Today along with Latest News and Top Headlines from India and around the world.

Continue reading with HT Premium Subscription

Daily E Paper I Premium Articles I Brunch E Magazine I Daily Infographics
Share this article

    Avinash, a senior correspondent, reports on crime, railways, defence and social sector, with specialisation in police, home department and other investigation agencies.

Story Saved
Live Score
Saved Articles
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Saturday, May 25, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On