33 years on, oxen theft case carries on
It has been three decades since Surajnath Yadav was made a suspect in a cattle-lifting case along with four others by his neighbour in Nawada-Ben village of Bhojpur district, 80 kilometres west of Bihar.
The complainant, Rambriksh Yadav, had charged Surajnath, his father and three others with lifting the oxen on July 27, 1973, when he was just 13.
Thirty-three years later, he still finds justice far, far away.
This is despite the fact that the 'stolen' oxen were recovered seven months after the case was filed and a chargesheet entered in the court on July 23, 1974.
In the intervening period, the oxen died as did other accused Ramdev Yadav, Suresh Yadav and Gopal Yadav.
Time claimed even the investigating officer Yashwant Kumar Singh.
However, the criminal case survives and would have put him behind bars for three years, had it been decided against him.
Now, Surajnath finds himself routinely attending the courts on the due date, trekking 13 kilometres from Nawada-Ben, his native village, spending as much as Rs 50 each time.
Sources at the Bhojpur headquarters in Ara said the judge supervising the case had ordered the case closed on May 5, 1997. However, Vishwanath, the son of the deceased complainant Rambriksh Yadav, appealed via a criminal revision petition against the ruling and has continued to pursue it against Surajnath who has now turned the 'victim'.
The case is before Ara judicial magistrate BK Gupta.
The case is in stark contrast to the one in Sasaram the other day when the local court created history of sorts by conducting a full trial over five hours and convicting Debnath Choudhary in a case of rape on October 22.
Interestingly, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, in a meeting with the judges and bureaucrats on October 14, had requested the Patna High Court to help create a system whereby those in for small offences are let out faster so that the jails of the state have adequate room for such bureaucrats and government employees who have indulged in corruption.