| A boy pedals through the deserted Khaira-Gari road in Jamui on Monday. Picture by Amit Kumar |
Jamui, Jan. 28: The otherwise innocuous job of proxy — that too for his father — has turned out to be a threat to the life of Subodh Pandey.
“Had I not fallen ill on the Republic Day, Subodh would not be abducted by the partymen,” his father Satyanarayan started sobbing, while sitting in front of his mud house at Badildih, a nondescript village in Jamui’s Khaira block, some 196km southeast of Patna. Satyanarayan (55) works as night guard at a bridge-construction site in Badildih.
Late on Saturday night, eight workers, including Subodh (20), of the firm constructing the Kiul river bridge, were picked up by Maoists, locally known as partymen.
Third among three brothers and four married sisters, Subodh — a Part-I student of Jamui College — came to the village to enjoy Republic Day’s holiday. “Not a single police officer or district administration official came to us. I called up the sub-divisional officer and junior engineer of the Bihar State Bridge Construction Ltd but they turned helpless. Since I don’t have any contact number of my boss — contractor Vikash Singh — I could not speak to him,” said Satyanarayan, who has been working with the construction company for the last three-and-half years. Vikash, who started the work on November 28, 2012, was not available for comment.
When The Telegraph visited the village this afternoon, no one was ready to talk about the abduction. Roads to Khaira from Jamui wore a deserted look. Panic-stricken women were seen peeping from half-closed windows while children ran inside the mud houses. “The area is controlled from Ghutia forest in Jharkhand’s Giridih district, hardly 1km from Badildih. You can easily imagine their strength as even after the presence of two CRPF camps at Ghutia and at Gari — some 2.5km from the spot — the party men came here and took away eight persons without any problem,” said a villager on condition of anonymity.
Jamui superintendent of police Upendra Sharma said the police had initiated all suitable measures, including combing operations with CRPF, to rescue the eight persons.
However, residents alleged that the men in uniform had not taken the issue seriously. “Since all the victims are poor, who would care for them? Secondly, police know that handing over a levy is the only solution for the company to set its workers free,” said a villager, who chose to keep mum.
Sidho Koda, the area commander of the Maoists in Jamui, rang up a local reporter to say: “We repeatedly asked the company to stop the bridge construction work but everyone ignored it.”