The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Apaharan gets too close for comfort

Patna, Dec. 3: Reel show, real sequel.

Last night, when Nitish Kumar walked into a movie hall for the first time in 20 years to see Prakash Jha’s new release Apaharan, none thought the theme would be played out hours later on the streets, 60 km from the capital.

The midnight drama, however, ended on a positive note. Abducted from Muzaffarpur, two construction officials were rescued by police in a chase about four hours after they had been whisked away.

Work had just begun on the East-West corridor on National Highway 28 when five armed men swooped down in two vehicles. They pushed Jagath Pradeep of Hyderabad and Samant Dey of Saharsa, Bihar, into one of the cars and sped away. It was 12.30, just about three hours after Nitish had left Ashoka cinema in Patna.

Alerted, the police swung into action in a rare show of promptness. Led by Muzaffarpur SP Ratan Sanjay, a police team gave chase, intercepted one of the vehicles and caught two of the abductors. Among those detained was Amod Choubey, brother of district council member Anil Choubey.

Three hours later, the police caught up with the rest of the gang and rescued Dey, an engineer, and Pradeep, a supervisor, both working for the Andhra Pradesh- based Progressive Construction Limited.

“We have identified the gang and the trial in the case would follow within 24 hours,” superintendent Sanjay said.

Earlier, after watching Apaharan, a film that deals with kidnappings and links between criminals and politicians, Nitish had remarked: “The film is Bihar’s truth. It blends reality and fiction.”

Last month, Jha, the director, had said that in Bihar alone, close to Rs 100 crore is paid as ransom in a year.

In an interview, Jha had said that over the years, he had been reading about several stories and incidents of kidnapping in the Hindi belt, especially in eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. He said he had been researching on the subject and keeping an eye on it. It was something socially bad but creatively interesting, he added.

Accompanied by Jha and senior officials like Patna police commissioner Deepak Kumar and district magistrate R. Rajender, Nitish, who reached the theatre straight from the Assembly, watched with rapt attention the film that features Ajay Devgan, Bipasha Basu and Nana Patekar.

Aaj se hum Bihar mein aisa hone nahin denge (We won’t let kidnappings happen in Bihar like this),” the new chief minister told reporters after emerging from Ashoka cinema.

Before walking into the theatre, he had set in motion a series of actions to check crime.

On Wednesday night, 62 rifles were looted from the Vishal Arms store at Bakerganj in the capital. SP (city) Rakesh Rathi said a “professional gang” was behind the robbery and the plan was to supply the arms to a bigger gang. “We are investigating the case,” he said.

The weapons were later recovered and five people have been arrested.

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