By Arun Srivastava
Despite the best efforts of his supporters to protect Nitish Kumar’s public image in the face of a vertical decline during last one year due to the serious break down in the law and order in the state, the Bihar chief minister seems to be finally coming to accept the reality.
Distraught at the failure of the police to curb the rising crime graph in Bihar in recent months, Nitish, for the first time since he came to power, gave an earful to the police brass during a high-level review meeting last week and asked the cops to act tough on the criminals and gear up the crime prevention mechanism. So far he has been reluctant to listen to complaints against the state police.
With Lok Sabha elections knocking at the door, he has come to realise the truth. Having already lost his political and moral credibility, he was left with no option but to confess his failures. The police, which he had assured at the time of his oath taking at CM of behaving like servants of the people, has now been acting like goons and promoter of criminals. The increasing crime rate shows Nitish has lost his grip on the police administration.
During last two months, at least four persons were murdered for their use of the Right to Information. The cold-blooded murder of Valmiki Yadav, Dharmendra Yadav, Rajendra and another activist has shocked the people. They were killed for using RTI against corruption in government schemes and to unearth wrongdoing. Under the NDA rule citizens who raise their voice against corruption are targeted, instead of being provided protection. The Whistle-blower Protection Act has not been notified. The performance of the Information Commission needs to be questioned.
Lynching of innocent people in the name of fighting crime has become rampant and in most cases it turned out to be a well-planned operation. In fact, the police had prior inkling of the crime, but did nothing to stop it. The police-criminal nexus has strengthened during the last couple of years. Six people accused of criminal acts were killed by mobs in four lynching incidents over five days this month.
Kumar has been forced to act in the wake of mounting criticism about the law and order breakdown. For the first time he admitted that serious crimes, like rape and murders, have been on the rise. Describing the rising crime scene in the state as “an unfortunate situation,” he directed the DGP and top police brass to take proactive action to ensure that crime remains under check.
It is really shocking how a chief executive of the state could remain a passive spectator to the break down of the law and order machinery and allow its police to work in league with the criminals. Nitish’s home town itself has been witness to brutal crimes in recent months. The imperative to win the 2019 Lok Sabha election has forced Nitish to look beyond tightening of the police administration. Though on numerous occasions the need to carry out reforms in the police organisation was brought to his notice, Nitish preferred to look the other way. But now the issue has acquired urgency.
While expressing his worries over the rising crime graph, he referred to the long pending decision to bifurcate the law and order duty and crime investigation right down to the police station level. Incidentally, the Supreme Court had come out with the order to separate the two in 2006. The apex court had in 2014 expressed concern over the states’ failure to implement police reforms, which are being resisted by the police establishment.
The police personnel have made a habit of not filing supervision reports of crime. This was the primary reason for criminals getting bail or judiciary not coming to the help of the victims. The lackadaisical functioning of the police has been primarily responsible for erosion of fear in the police by the criminals. There has been a 78% rise in cases of murder and other forms of physical violence between January and August this year. The growing incidents of “mob lynching” have also become a matter of serious concern, dealing a severe blow to Nitish’s claim of ensuring rule of law. (IPA Service)