Shocking, Damning, Humiliating, Beastly Bihar

Some 55 years ago, I was in my village in a summer vacation. It was a hot summer. As usual, all the male members of the family and some fellow villagers were in the courtyard of the house that was sprayed with water in the evening to make us sleep comfortably. Suddenly, the whole village was on its feet. Someone had seen a truck going on the bank of the village canal. It was something unusual. He took the truck as one full of thieves going for a robbery to some village nearby. The news spread like wild fire. A huge crowd went ahead and dug the bank of the canal so that while returning the truck would fall in that. And so it happened. When none came out of the truck for sometime, the brave enthusiasts waiting at distance went near the truck. There was no one in that. The driver had run away in darkness.

In the morning, someone came and told us that truck was carrying coal for the village next to ours. I reminded of the incident while reading the recent cases of the mob’s ‘instant justice’ in Bihar.

For quite sometime now, the news from Bihar is becoming more and more shocking, damning, humiliating, and to a great extent beastly.

It started with Bhagalpur. A minor chain snatcher was brutally beaten by the mob. I saw the beastly pleasure on the faces of the scarcely dressed people of all ages in the crowd on TV screen. Even the policemen who came there tried to give some exemplary punishment to the culprit. He tied the alleged thief to his motorcycle and dragged the bare bodied on the road. All that was when a video camera was on.

In another incident, three motorcycle snatchers had their eyes gouged out by an angry mob in Bihar’s Nawada district last Sunday.

On Monday two children were beaten up and paraded in the streets with their heads tonsured in Nawada town, because they allegedly stole few packets of detergent from a shop where they were employed. As reported, ’13-year-old Mochu and 12-year-old Budhan cried and begged forgiveness but to no avail’.

The people are taking law into its hands. “In yet another instance of mob brutality, ten alleged thieves have been beaten to death in Dhelpurva village of Vaishali district in Bihar.” It is an extreme case of instant justice by crowd and failure of police machinery. A CID investigation can’t provide the solution.

Why is it happening? Is it because the people are frustrated and have lost faith in police and judiciary? Is it because the people don’t have any thing to do? Do they try to get some way entertained by these acts? Does it happen because the people are illiterate? Is it because the education today does not emphasise on becoming a good human being with some minimum compassion first? Can any number of police stop this to happen? Does it require some Gandhian mass social reforming approach?

When the Nitish Kumar government started its inning, perhaps the first important visitor to the state was Guru Ramdev. Some other Gurus also visited. As I remember, Nitish Kumar made Ramdev the brand ambassador for Bihar. Perhaps the state requires more of Ramdev and his disciples in all the cities, towns, and villages to conduct the value building programmes as basic requirement. Some value building must be part of education. It is strange that all these are happening in the state of Buddha and Mahavir.

However, the regularity of such incidents is no doubt the indicators of the total failure of the administration at all levels. It got reflected in the statement of even the chief minister when he himself says after hearing Dhelpurva story, “incidents of crime have increased and police are not paying attention.” How can he improve if he doesn’t become aggressive and open to suggestions? Today he is in position to appoint the best policeman of the country (may be Kiran Bedi who recently was superceded by her junior) to head Bihar law and order administration. Why is so keen to keep the men from his own state who are having very poor reputation because of their caste bias. Why can’t he remove the black sheep if he thinks them as hurdle? Is it not getting obvious with as many as 1,600 people turning up at his Janata Durbar to complain against police?

It is unfortunate that all TV channels are making it more difficult for Nitish Kumar. Let us look at the NDTV reporting. “Chief Minister Nitish Kumar may have promised to rid Bihar of crime when he came to power in 2005 but the crime graph in the state seems to be indicating otherwise, especially when it comes to incidents of brutality.” And then NDTV reporter goes to Lalu Yadav who squarely laid the blame for the incident on the Chief Minister. ”There is no law and order in the state of Bihar. The government has failed completely. The police also stand by and watch. There is complete anarchy in Bihar.”

Why should media go to Lalu for a comment on everything that happens in Bihar and publicize his remarks that are never serious? Whatever is happening today are the cumulative results of the years of mishandling of law and order in Bihar. And the Lalu’s clan had ruled then.

Bihar needs some innovative handling of the situation. Only the chief minister and his team can do that. It can’t improve its image without that.

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