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You want law and order in Bihar? Start putting these men behind bars

Sunday 11 December 2005, by VARGHESE*George K., YADAV*J.P.

There are no short-cuts in the long haul that Nitish Kumar faces in Bihar. But there are first steps waiting to be taken. The Sunday Express travels across a hopeful state to begin a series on what the new CM can do right away if he has to justify his mandate.

The law and order system here is so fragile and moth-eaten that if I take drastic measures, things will crumble. But there is no alternative, I will have to do it. I will do it carefully.

That’s Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar talking to The Sunday Express a fortnight after he took charge, aware that every day of his new government begins with the state asking “So what have you done for us today?

In the capital this week to ask Prime Minister for a special economic package for the state, Nitish is well aware that it will mean little if two words aren’t brought back to Bihar’s social and political lexicon: law and order.

For, linked to this is virtually everything that troubles the state: from corruption in the government to stalled development projects, from the exodus of big enterprise to the shrinking of job opportunities, from the fear of running small business to the impossibility of getting small children vaccinated.

Since Nitish took charge, there have already been 150-plus murders and half a dozen kidnappings. Those mainly responsible are not strangers to the police, nor numerous. As D P Ojha, sacked as DG of Police in 2004 after he took on Bihar’s organised crime syndicates, says “all of the state’s crime is controlled by less than 100 people. You want law and order in the state? Identify the key ones and put them behind bars, move them out of the state if you have to, even petition the Supreme Court.”

But catching 100 dons may be tough for a CM trying to cope with a decades-old lag in fighting crime. He could start with 11.

The Sunday Express studied history sheets, talked to scores of top serving and retired police officers to draw up a list of 11 of Bihar’s most wanted dons. Mohammed Shahabuddin and Pappu Yadav are not in this list-because they need no highlighting.

All the 11 have political clout. They can and do strike at will. And they stay active even when behind bars or on the run. Some straddle states, some only Bihar.

National crime statistics say that in 2003, only 10 people in Bihar dialled 100, the police complaints number. Those were 10 very courageous citizens. Nitish Kumar says that things will change in Bihar, he will ensure that the law will take its course. He could start with this list:

1 Vijay Kumar Shukla aka Munna Shukla

A Janata Dal (United) MLA, from Lalganj, Vaishali, Shukla has 17 criminal cases of murder, extortion and rioting pending against him. He is one of the main accused in the 1998 murder of former minister in the RJD government, Brij Behari Prasad. Prasad, himself a history-sheeter, was in judicial custody and being treated in a Patna hospital. He was among the group of LJP MLAs who switched sides and contested elections on a JD(U) ticket. A strong aspirant for a ministerial berth in the Nitish government, he was denied a portfolio because of his record. But he will ask for his pound of flesh. Can the Chief Minister deny him that?

2 Anant Singh aka Chhote Sarkar

A grand moustache, military boots and a posse of gun-toting followers are Singh’s trademarks. A JD(U) MLA from Mokamah, he is known as “chhote sarkar” because he effectively runs a parallel government. His arms collection is the envy of many police officers. When Special Task Force (STF) jawans raided his residence in April 2004, nine were killed, including one jawan, in the encounter. The raid revealed an arsenal of AK 47s and SLRs and a tunnel dug around Singh’s residence perimeter. What’s that for? Guerrilla warfare was what Singh had said. In 2000, Singh was exonerated in more than two dozen cases which include kidnapping and murder. Doubtless a “clean” Singh was even more sought after by politicians. In 2000, he was RJD. Singh is expanding his business now, buying disputed property in Patna.

3 Rama Singh

What Anant Singh is to Nitish Kumar, Rama Kishore Singh is to Ram Vilas Paswan. This LJP MLA from Mahnar, Vaishali, has 16 criminal cases against him. These include abduction, murder and rioting, as well as offences under the Arms Act. He won this election from behind bars. State police sources say his operations cover all of North India. He is an accused in the kidnapping case of a prominent businessman from Kolkata and a doctor from Jharkhand. Paswan losing his clout in Bihar doesn’t mean his powerful friends are vulnerable.

4 Rajen tiwary

Tiwary lost these elections fighting as an LJP candidate. But the vote may have done nothing to change his overlordship of the Bihar-UP border areas. This father of two children has spent time in judicial custody since September 1998, being the prime accused in the murder of a CPM MLA in Purnea. Tiwary’s democratic spirit never flagged, however. Three assembly elections and one general election saw him as candidates. He won only in the 2000 state polls. Custody time hasn’t cramped his business style-he is a successful transporter, his buses ply many of Bihar’s busiest routes. Most of the time he was supposed to be in jail, he was spotted at home or in restaurants. TV journalists recall they never had to visit the jail to get his quote.

5 Bhangar Yadav

The police have been hunting him for 30 years and he exists only in narrations-the reason why we do not have his photograph. The law has 109 cases against him, says a police official in Champaran. He has Rs 300,000 on his head. But Bhangar Yadav is free to rule over more than 10 thousand acres in the riverine areas of West Champaran. Police say kidnapping, trade in contraband, sugarcane and government contracts are said to be his niche areas. His “administration” in West Champaran has a letter-head, too: extortion demands come stamped with the legend, “Bihar Sarkar, jungle party”. Yadav’s son, Amar, is the district board chairman. Junior fought and lost on an RJD ticket. But it’s Yadav senior, the chief minister has to concentrate on. Surely, there can’t be two administrative letter-heads in Bihar?

6 Surendra Yadav

He’s a PhD, not in auto theft, but you may be forgiven for thinking so. This overachieving post graduate runs Gaya’s underworld. His gang runs away with most of the stolen cars too, local police said. Abduction and attempted murder make up the rest of his thesis. Bindi Yadav, an RJD strongman, has been rendered a wannabe in Gaya. Surendra is apparently worth around Rs 5 crore, says a former DGP. His house is Gaya is certainly not modest-a huge three storey mansion, fortressed and well-guarded is the symbol of impunity in Bihar.

7 Dhumal Singh

Another don who’s part of Bihar’s new political dawn. He defected from the LJP and was welcomed by the JD(U). He won from the Baniapur assembly constituency in Chhapra. His profitable activities are mostly in the coal mining areas of Jharkhand, however. He’s been an jail resident in Hazaribagh for a long time-he surrendered before the 2000 assembly elections. His history sheet is long as well. With three successive electoral victories, the politicisation of this don is complete. He is ready to ask Nitish Kumar for his share of the new political power. That makes it all the more difficult for the chief minister.

8 Ashok Mahto

For the backward castes of Nawada and Sheikhpura, and particularly the Koeris-one of Nitish Kumar’s strong base-Mahto is a messiah, since he had taken the upper-caste gangs in the region head on. He had run away from the local court in 2003, in a daring operation supported by his syndicate and still continues to be elusive in more than 70 cases, mostly of massacre and murder. His gang specialises in targeting upper-caste Bhumihars in the region. Mahto’s passport to political power is his nephew, Pradeep Mahto, an Independent MLA from Warsliganj. Pradeep defeated two-term MLA Aruna Devi, wife of Ashok’s arch rival, Akhilesh Singh. Mahto’s gang has promised to reduce Singh’s team to insignificance. Singh has promised likewise.

9 Bindu Singh

Patna knows him - especially traders, doctors and others with disposable income. After his arrest in 2003, police moved him away to Bhagalpur jail. But his operations hardly suffered. He sat in the jail superintendent’s office threatening businessmen in Patna and extorting huge sums, police said. Singh is accused in the 2004 gunning down of prominent Patna surgeon N K Agarwal. The surgeon was attacked in his clinic. His crime: he filed an FIR against Singh, refusing to pay extortion. The extortion calls had come from jail. Doctors went on strike after that murder. The chief minister doesn’t have that option.

10 Shankar Singh His followers call them the North Liberation Army. But liberation perhaps is not their main calling. Singh has 10 murder cases, 16 attempt to murder cases, 9 abduction (with the intention of murder) cases, 10 extortion cases and three cases of looting against him. His territory is the Rupauli region of Purnea. His political allegiance switched from the LJP to the JD (U) between the Februray and the recent elections. But his fortunes changed for the worse. He lost on a JD(U) ticket. That doesn’t make tackling him an easier job.

11 Rajesh Kumar alias Babloo Dev

He is only 29. But a veteran already. Political observers call him Laloo Prasad Yadav’s answer to Nitish Kumar’s coddling of colourful upper caste characters. Rajesh has 29 criminal cases against him: eight of murder, eight of attempt to murder and others relating to abduction, extortion and loot. He’s an RJD MLA from Kesaria, East Champaran. Proximity to the de facto ex-CM means problems for the current one.

BIHAR Crime Figures In the last few years Bihar and alternate the position for the largest incidents of violent crime in 2003, Bihar recorded 12.4 percent of all of India’s violent crimes. However, Bihar is only 27th in 35 states and UTs in the descending order of crime rates; ie crimes per lakh population. Bihar’s crime rate is 106.3 against the national average of 160.7

Year Murder Abduction for Ransom

2000 5172 431

2001 5190 572

2002 6289 690

2003 5127 711

2004 6790 904

See online : The Indian Express

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