The 15-year-old regime of husband-wife duo Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi was often likened to the proverbial “Jungle Rule”. This term was coined by the Opposition NDA after Bihar was rocked by a series of caste massacres—the deadliest being Laxmanpur-Bathe, Bara and Miyanpur in which 58, 37 and 34 villagers from different castes were killed respectively, in the bitter fight between the Maoists and Ranvir Sena, a private militia of upper caste Bhumihar landlords. This happened between 1990 and 2005 while the RJD remained on the throne of Bihar.
The Nitish Kumar government which came to power in 2005 too, is almost completing 15 years in office now and yet the overall situation hardly looks a bit different on the ground. Of course, the caste wars have become a thing of the past but this has been replaced by flood of rape cases. The alarming rise in incidents of rape has emerged as an issue of serious concern in Bihar and the state government has failed miserably to curb the menace despite all its big claims to establish a ‘rule of law’ in the state.
With the prevailing situation bringing sheer desperation among the masses, the state looks slowly turning towards vigilantism to mete out crude justice to the rapists. Sounds bizarre but irked at government’s failure to maintain law and order in the state a senior politician from the state, Pappu Yadav has offered cash rewards for killing the rapists. Yadav, a politician with over 20 years of experience in parliamentary politics, announced to give a reward of One lakh rupees to anyone who eliminates rapists.
“Rs One lakh will be given for punishing one rapist. If a person punishes two rapists, he will be given Rs Two lakhs and so on,” Yadav declared shortly after meeting two sisters who were gang-raped by a group of nine youths in Sitamarhi district earlier this week. He claims if the government has the power to punish the rapists, the society too can do the same.
The three recent incidents of rape have beckoned a very bad name for the state in recent months. The first incident was reported from Nalanda district where a ruling party lawmaker (now in the opposition) raped a teenaged girl at his residence ignoring her repeated appeals for mercy. The girl was lured by a woman on the pretext of attending a birthday party in the neighbourhood but was handed over the lawmaker. The incident took place in 2016.
The second incident took place in Gaya district where the wife and teenaged daughter of a medical practitioner were gangraped in front of his eyes. The doctor along with his wife and daughter was returning home on his bike from clinic at night when 10 people intercepted his vehicle at a secluded place and tied him up before his wife and daughter were gang-raped. The incident took place in May 2018.
The third incident took place in Kishanganj district where a girl was gangraped by six youths in front of her father. The accused persons had knocked the door of the victim asking for a glass of water at night but when they opened the door, the miscreants entered forced their way inside and kidnapped both father and the daughter. Subsequently, they gangraped her one by one in front of her father who was tied to a tree and forced threatend at gun point. The incident took place in February this year.
The number of rape cases have reported a sudden jump under the present Nitish Kumar government as compared to the previous Rabri Devi regime. A comparative study of the incidents of rape between the two regimes says the situation has worsened in the last five years. Against a total of 4,461 incidents of rape registered in the last five years of the RJD rule (between 2000 to 2005 when Rabri Devi was in power), as many as 6,202 cases of rape have been reported since 2014, indicating the gravity of the situation. This year itself, a staggering number, many as 353 cases of rape have been reported till March this year.
In matter of cognizable offence as well, the Nitish Kumar regime has left its predecessor far behind. As against a total of 4,11,289 recorded cognizable offence during the past five years of the RJD regime (2000 to 2005), a total of 11,45,603 cognizable offence has been reported during the past five years of Nitish Kumar government (since 2014)—that is almost triple from RJD regime. In the first three months of the current year itself, the total number of congnizable offence has been at 66,662, amply indicating the sharp jump in criminal incidents.
The question now is, is Bihar really changing under Nitish Kumar? Let the masses decide.