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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Cops chase snakes, not criminals
- Reptiles, not bullets, keep police personnel on toes in remote villages

Vipers, not snipers.

Men in uniform on duty at Bheja police station in Madhubani district are afraid of venomous reptiles but not Maoist bullets. “We don’t have any threat from Maoists or criminals. But reptiles and wild animals have made our life miserable,” said acting station house officer Sanjay Kumar.

Fear is not unnatural for the officer and his colleagues as the police station functions out of a hut surrounded by three streams of the turbulent Kosi — making it vulnerable to reptiles and wild animals.

Officials at the police station, about 55km east of Madhubani town on the Nepal border, said it was yet to have its own building even 33 years after it had been set up. According to the police, the Bheja police station has no lockup to keep detainees in custody. “The possibility of their escape can’t be ruled out,” Kumar said.

Morkahi police station in Khagaria district is in no better shape. The police station, nestling on the Kosi, has no permanent address as it changes with the course of the Kosi whims.

Bheja is not an isolated case. At least 550 of 879 police stations and around 184 police outposts across the state face the same. More than half of the police stations are either functioning from dilapidated buildings or rented accommodations. Figures available at the police headquarters revealed that about 555 police stations are functioning out of rented accommodation. Of which, over 100 have their offices at either huts or dilapidated buildings.

In fact, police stations in the state capital are not in superb shape either. Roofs of Pirbahore and Chowk police stations caved in recently causing minor injuries to some personnel. The building of Phulwarisharif is about a century old and developed cracks at several points.

Similarly, officials of Motipur police station in Muzaffarpur district work out of a sugar factory godown since 1981.

Incidentally, official records reveal most of the police stations running from dilapidated buildings are in the Kosi region with the policemen in Supaul, Madhepura, Khagaria, Kishanganj, Araria, Katihar, Sitamarhi, Madhubani and Darbhanga districts are the worst sufferers. Senior officers at the police headquarters said the buildings of about 180 police stations, mostly in Maoist-affected districts, were being constructed by the Bihar Police Building Construction Corporation.

The sources said only 324 police stations in the state had their own buildings.

Bihar Police Association’s general secretary K.K. Jha said: “The situation is more pathetic in the police stations located in Kosi belt.”