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Extortion spate scars city of business

Jamshedpur, Nov. 2: The audacious murder of Sreeleather’s Ashish Dey has left the city’s business community seething in anger as it believes the administration has done precious little to bust the rangdaari racket which has left them bloodied, wounded and poorer by several crores.

“There is no government in Jharkhand. The state government has completely failed to perform,” said R.N. Gupta, the president of Singhbhum Chamber of Commerce and Industries (SCCI).

Gupta said the extortion gangs, which comprise local criminals as well as those from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, have a free run because they enjoy the backing of a section of politicians. “These criminals are not scared of anybody as they know they will go scot-free. What is the government doing' If there is no guarantee of our security, why are we paying such high taxes,” he said.

The daylight killing of Dey comes little over a month after industrialist Vishwanath Garg was kidnapped by rangdaari extortionists in September. Garg was released after 14 days, and though the family denies it, police sources said his freedom was bought with a hefty ransom.

Businessmen likened the racket to Mumbai’s D-company and said the number of rangdaari calls had steadily increased over the last few years. “Almost every day there are extortion and ransom threats in the city. Only a handful get reported or are highlighted as the rest just keep quiet and pay up,” said a leading industrialist.

He said that a few days ago, a leading businessman had to pay Rs 5 lakh to the gangsters as protection money. “He had received a threat that he would be bumped off if he didn’t,” the industrialist said.

Police admitted that the number of threat calls had risen, but said they could not do anything unless the businessmen came to them with a complaint. “We want to help them, but they have to trust us,” said a police official.

Businessmen say the administration was at times helpless as the criminals were hand-in-glove with influential politicians. “There are too many loopholes in the system. Even if the local administration reacts, the criminals would be set free at the intervention of politicians,” said a top businessman.

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