In lawless Bihar, jungle raj returns to haunt again

In lawless Bihar, jungle raj returns to haunt again

A gangster's murder at a court and a string of violent crimes, especially against women, have once again brought back horrors of the infamous "jungle raj" in Bihar.

One month after Nitish Kumar was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Bihar in November 2015, two engineers were gunned down by armed assailants in Darbhanga. The marauders used sophisticated weapons like AK-47 to kill the engineers who had failed to cough up extortion money sought by the dreaded gangster Santosh Jha.

The BJP, then in the Opposition, shouted from the roof-top about the "return of jungle raj." But now with the BJP enjoying the fruits of power in the Nitish regime, the same Santosh Jha was gunned down on the court premises on Tuesday, when he was being produced in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Sitamarhi.

The 19-year-old assailant shot the gangster twice — once in his chest and then in his head — before fleeing the premises. The 11 security personnel escorting Santosh, surprisingly, did not open fire to challenge the killer.

The murder took place on a day when a video went viral here, in which seven youths were seen molesting a schoolgirl in Saharsa. The girl was seen pleading for mercy. But her pleas had fell on deaf ears.

This video comes barely two days after a similar video from Gaya had gone viral in which a woman was seen being molested.

Even earlier, three cases of similar crimes against women were reported from Jehanabad.

The Bihar police data shows that crimes against women have increased in Bihar by more than 100%. "Bihar recorded 74 cases of rape in January, which rose up to 170 in June," said a police source. The most horrifying among them being the despicable Muzaffarpur shelter home rape case and a rape case in Gaya, where a woman was raped in front of her husband in May this year.

But as the law and order has gone from bad to worse, the same BJP leaders have now maintained a stoic silence on "jungle raj," a term first used by the Patna High Court in the 90s during the Lalu-Rabri era.

The BJP’s ruling partner — the JD(U) has made a feeble attempt to defend the chief minister. "One cannot stop crime completely. But it's equally true that in Nitish raj, police promptly take action against the culprits. In Saharsa case of molestation, two of the five accused have been arrested. Others, too, will be apprehended soon," said JD(U) spokesperson Neeraj Kumar.

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