Rising rapes upend Nitish’s promise of ‘rule of law’ in Bihar

rape victim
The girl is undergoing treatment at the Meerut Medical College and Hospital. File photo. PTI

While launching election campaigns in 2005, JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar had coined a small slogan to woo the voters. This was about establishing a “rule of law” in Bihar if voted to power. The three-word slogan impressed the masses so much so that it ultimately brought down the 15-year-old fortified kingdom of powerful politician Lalu Prasad Yadav.

In the next Assembly elections held in 2010, Nitish emerged stronger, bagging 206 seats out of a total 243 seats in the Bihar Assembly as Lalu’s party was restricted to just 22 seats. One of the main reasons that had worked wonders was said to be Nitish’s focus on governance which remained largely missing during the previous regime. It was only after that Nitish got the sobriquet of “Susashan Babu”.

After 15 years of Nitish Kumar’s rule, law and order in the state seem to have become the worst casualty as is evident from the spate of rape cases in Bihar over the recent years. In a recent incident, a teenaged girl was allegedly gangraped, shot dead and set on fire by the perpetrators in Buxur district, close on the heels of the gruesome rape and murder of a female veterinarian in Hyderabad.

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Although the police are yet to identify the body, the upper part which was burnt beyond recognition, remnants of the victim’s attire suggested that she came from a well to do family.

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“The victim was allegedly raped and shot dead before being burnt with the intention to destroy evidence. We are investigating the case and the accused will be nabbed very soon,” Buxur Dy SP Satish Kumar told the media on Wednesday (December 4). According to the police, the victim was shot in the head by the miscreants. The police have recovered a used cartridge from near her body and further investigations are underway.

What is worrying is, this was not the first time such an incident has taken place in the state. Only last week, a teenager from Kaimur district was gang-raped in a moving car.

The 17-year-old girl was waiting to return home after attending coaching when the accused gave lift to her and persuaded her to drop by a nearby parked car. Which was when she was gang-raped by four men in the moving, according to victim’s complaint with the police. The police have arrested all the four accused in the case.

In another gruesome incident in Nalanda district, the home district of the CM Nitish Kumar, September this year, a teenaged girl, accompanied with boyfriend, had come on the sightseeing tour of historic Rajgir hills when some local youths surrounded them from all sides and tried to disrobe her in broad daylight. Despite her repeated appeals to the youths to spare her, addressing them as “bhaiya” (brothers) they remained unmoved. They then raped her one by one while the boyfriend was held hostage and assaulted. The incident came to light after the video of the incident went viral on social media.

But what happened in Gaya in June last year was even more disturbing when a daughter was gang-raped before her father. A doctor who ran a private clinic in Guraru block town was returning home on his bike with wife and teenaged daughter at around 8.30 p.m when a gang of miscreants waylaid them. Subsequently, the doctor was tied to a tree while his wife and daughter were gang-raped before him. The hapless doctor continued making fervent appeals to the miscreants but to no avail.

According to official data compiled by the Bihar police, a total of 5,887 incidents of rape have been reported in the past five years in the state. Going by the numbers, an average three girls are being raped every day in Bihar. This year itself a total of 1,165 such incidents have taken place so far and this figure is set to go up further as the data is only till September.

“Rape cases are indeed very shocking but our government is quite alert to maintain rule law and order in the state,” said ruling JD-U spokesperson Anjum Ara. The accused would not be spared at any cost and the police already are doing their duty, she added. Denying that the government had failed to maintain law and order in Bihar she said, “Failure of the system means the accused go unpunished, but here every case is properly investigated and justice is served.”

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Social scientists have described the increasing rape trend in Bihar as ‘very dangerous.’ “Apart from indicating that the criminals have no fear of law, the increasing rape cases in the state also highlight the breakdown of social norms and traditional values,” commented social scientist S Narayan. “Another dangerous trend is that the victims are now being killed and burnt after rape,” he added.

The opposition has slammed the ruling government for failing to maintain law and order in Bihar. “It is ‘rakash raj’ (demon rule) prevailing in Bihar, not the ‘rule of law’ as proclaimed by the chief minister,” alleged Bihar opposition leader and RJD legislator Tejashwi Yadav on Wednesday.

“Nitish Kumar is now tired and unable to run the state, the sisters and daughters are feeling insecure today as there is no law and order worth its name in Bihar. The state has truly become lawless,” he added.

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