Kidnappings in Bihar: Law and order or Social problem?

Farzand Ahmed’s The Missing Kids in the latest ‘India Today’ presents a dismal picture of the law and order situation, related to kidnappings in Bihar. I may ignore Rabri Devi’s concern for “sushasan” (good governance). But if I go by media and information that I keep on getting from my own sources in Bihar, the menace of kidnappings of the children in particular is showing no sign of ending. It is not that it is not there in other states but in Bihar it has become a trade and means of taking revenge and making quick money.

A month ago, I received an email from one whom I have come to know because of my blog, with an attachment from a vernacular newspaper giving a story of kidnapping related to someone in my village. I called my brother who lives there. It appeared he was really concerned and excited about the incident as it happened in my village. After going through Farzand story, I contacted my brother again and heard the whole story of the kidnapping of the village. It ran like a novel. As it is now known, the news of the kidnapping was a made-up one that never happened but created. It originated in the enmity of two closely related but warring families for vested interest out of hurt egos.

Yesterday I came across good news of the ‘abducted boy rescued within 24 hours in Bihar’. With the help of a common friend, two employees of a private firm had abducted Chhotu, a 6-year old son of a jawan to make a fast buck and realize heir dream to own a sleek motorcycles. The police had acted fast and smart and could put one of the abductors behind the bar.

And then to make the menace more complicated, Farzand provides another interesting aspect of Bihar’s kidnapping story. “According to an independent study conducted by the Crime Branch of the state police, more young girls and boys are kidnapped for marriage than for ransom. Such marriages, common in some north Bihar districts including Muzaffarpur, Begusarai and Samastipur, are called pakadua shaadi. Out of the total cases of kidnapping recorded between January and June this year, says the Crime Branch analysis, 419 were for marriage and only 48 were executed for ransom.” While I do believe that the police in Bihar have failed to solve the menace of kidnappings, but can the police solve it, if it continues the way the people of all categories and classes in Bihar are using it as tool? Don’t the people of Bihar require something more?

But it doesn’t mean that kidnapping is not a serious law and order issue in Bihar. “An ‘updated status report’ on the action taken on the cases of abduction of children makes a sensational reading: between 2001 and June 23, 2007, a total of 2,068 children were kidnapped in Bihar. While the police succeeded in recovering 1,690 children from the clutches of kidnappers, 304 are still not traceable. The report also highlights the macabre fact that over 74 victims were slain by kidnappers. The state capital tops with 36 killings, followed by Bhagalpur (16), Muzaffarpur (13) and Darbhanga (nine).” How can a government call it an improvement in its performance?

The whole story is just a gory tale of poor law and order situation in Bihar. Farzand says, “A number of mafia dons, who have entered politics, control a well-knit ‘syndicate’ to carry out abductions. Of all the crimes, kidnapping-for-ransom is the safest as the victim’s family does not normally involve the police. The gangs earlier used to target only wealthy farmers but then found that kidnapping and extortion of professionals like doctors, engineers as well as contractors, businessmen and the children of the wealthy was far more lucrative.”

And I again say it requires a tough mindset to hit at the root of the law and order problems. Just as terrorists don’t belong to any caste and community, these kidnappers-for-ransom and murderers don’t belong to any political party or community. The society, the community in particular must disown them. Nitish Kumar must not be content with his ‘a good, honest man’ image. He must be ruthless and follow the steps of Chanakya whose chair he is occupying. With majority in the assembly, Nitish must come out with a POTA like act for kidnapping industry of Bihar or get some really good outsiders as his police chiefs who can work without a caste bias. And the judiciary too must also come out to punish the culprits fast and in the severest manner to eliminate the menace. Bihar doesn’t have a future without a total restructuring of the police administration.

Simultaneously, the state must work really hard to improve upon the human development index with better education, healthcare, and employment that is very basic to get rid of many social problems.

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