The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Kidnap glare on politicians

Patna, May 22: The rescue of a neurosurgeon from the clutches of his abductors yesterday kicked up a storm with politicians in Bihar scrambling for cover from arclights that turned on them for patronising gangsters.

Police yesterday said Dr Ramesh Chandra’s kidnappers had made calls to the house of Union minister C.P. Thakur. One of those arrested in the swoop on a village on the outskirts of Patna that yielded Chandra also dragged in the name of Sunil Pandey, a Samata Party MLA. He said Pandey had asked them to kidnap the US-returned doctor.

Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Laloo Prasad Yadav had wasted no time in hitting out at the BJP and the Samata, who have always slammed him for his alleged nexus with the mafia.

Thakur today threatened to file a defamation suit against Laloo Prasad for linking his name with Chandra’s kidnapping.

Accusing the RJD chief of “character assassination” in a “systematic way”, Thakur, who represents Patna in the Lok Sabha, said: “Enough is enough. I am now going to file a defamation suit against (Laloo Prasad) Yadav…. Bihar has gone to the dogs…. The only industry that is thriving is kidnapping and murder.”

Laloo Prasad was on the offensive yesterday but in 24 hours, the glare was back on his party’s government for recurring incidents of abduction.

Ministers, including those who allegedly harboured dons like Ezazul Haque and Surendra Yadav, are embarrassed by the way their cases came back under the scanner.

The rescue took its toll of the NDA ranks as well.

The BJP came to the rescue of Thakur but Pandey had no advocate even in his own party.

Pandey, who had been jailed several times, was frequently seen at Samata leader and railway minister Nitish Kumar’s meetings. But he used to be seen at the airport, too, when Thakur would arrive here.

“I would not say Pandey should not be investigated,” said Thakur, himself a doctor.

“I want the leaders having nexus with criminals to be prosecuted, whoever he may be,” said Kumar. Pandey was left fuming.

Names of politicians have cropped up during investigations into 45 cases of abduction in the past two years. Twenty-three of the kidnapped were doctors. “If we start unfurling the names of the MLAs, the storm would not stop,” said an IPS officer from Nalanda.

The state police chief used a euphemism to say as much. “Hammam me sab log nange hai. (Everyone’s naked in the bath),” said director-general D.P Ojha. He probably meant by the “bath” the state’s political cauldron .

“I have spoken publicly against five ministers daring them to take me to court,” said Opposition leader Sushil Modi. But Opposition leaders who criticise Laloo Prasad’s jungle raj are often accused of sharing centrestage with the MLA allegedly involved in the “abduction industry”.

With the proliferation of “patron politicians”, gangs have multiplied. In 1998, there were 107 operating in the state. There are 210 gangs now and many of them have turned to other states to expand business.

“This is perhaps the indication of Bihar’s future”, says P.K. Sinha, a Samata rebel councillor and known for his honesty. That may be one reason why a very few honest politicians of Bihar whose voices are still heard stand isolated. In the growing number of abductions (13,000 from 19467 in 97-98), at least nine RJD ministers allegedly offer patronage to the gangsters. The statistics are not available on how many mlas.

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