Bijay Kumar. Picture by Ranjeet Kumar Dey
Patna, Aug. 22: A Bettiah-based trader shifted his family to an unknown destination after a don-turned-politician allegedly threatened to eliminate them with him for refusing to bear the cost of a sports utility vehicle.
The scared trader, Bijay Kumar, is now running from pillar to post seeking police protection for him and his family members. The sordid saga of this 40-year-old businessman has reminded people of the jungle raj during the Lalu-Rabri regime, when the criminals used to call the shots and the members of the trading community were left to fend for themselves.
Kumar, a resident of Church road in Bettiah town, around 240km northwest from here, has allegedly been threatened with dire consequences by the criminal-turned-politician, Shamim Akhtar, and his goons for not paying up for the Pajero Sport vehicle the former booked.
Akhtar, who had unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha polls in 2009 from Valmikinagar, is the brother of Zakir Mian — a trusted lieutenant of former RJD MP from Siwan Md Shahabuddin. Mian, whose name spelt terror in entire north Bihar, was later killed.
The quotation (invoice) of the vehicle issued in the name of Akhtar in his new address in the city’s upscale Nageshwar Colony was sent to Kumar through email. He was asked to pay Rs 23.7 lakh to the automobile agency in Patna on his behalf.
A written complaint submitted to the director-general of police Abhayanand on July 5 this year states that Kumar’s family was so frightened that he deposited around Rs 9 lakh in an account of Akhtar in Bettiah with a private bank in three instalments.
“As he (Akhtar) was not satisfied with the amount, he started sending his men to my house. They threatened to eliminate my octogenarian father, younger brother, wife and my three minor children. My efforts to contact the superintendent of police of Bettiah proved futile,” the complaint read.
Kumar’s decision to report the matter to the Bettiah Town police station turned out to be a shocker for his family. “I was taken hostage by Akhtar’s associates from the police station premises, confined to a room and physically harassed,” he said.
During his confinement, Akhtar’s men allegedly took him to the Koeritola house of a stamp vendor, Nanheji. They purchased four non-judicial stamps and took his signatures on them, telling that he owed Rs 80 lakh to Akhtar and his men, which he had taken as loan for business.
Kumar, who somehow managed to reach the office of The Telegraph here today, claimed that his family had paid over Rs 50 lakh as extortion to Akhtar and his associates, including Pramod Giri, in the past one year. He alleged that the extortion money was deposited in the accounts of Akhtar’s brother Irshad Mukhiya also.
“His demand for extortion money increased after I bagged three tenders for liquor — two in my name and one in favour of my brother Sanjay — in March,” he said, adding that Akhtar used to exert pressure on him for money citing his close contact with some senior leaders of the Congress in the state and at the national-level.
Kumar is in possession of a video clip of Akhtar in which he said he would not spare the trader and his family if he did not pay the money. The trader heard Akhtar’s two associates, who introduced themselves as Ashok and Harshvardhan, saying they were close to a senior bureaucrat of Bihar, who was on central deputation and recently retired. “He (the officer whose identity has been concealed by The Telegraph) behaves with us like his relatives and would help us in tracing him (Kumar) and his family,” Kumar quoted the duo as saying.
Kumar sent the copies of his complaints to the inspector-general, Tirhut zone, Pankaj Darad, and the deputy inspector-general, Bettiah range. Darad said he had not gone through the complaint.
Bettiah superintendent of police (SP) M. Sunil Naik said he received a written complaint of Kumar yesterday. “I have asked the station house officer concerned to verify it,” he said, adding that at least three complains of forgery and cheating had been lodged against Kumar in the past few days. The SP claimed that Kumar had duped several people of the town of huge money and he was trying to frame the debtors in false cases.
Akhtar could not be contacted for his comments, but one of his close associates said an FIR was lodged against Kumar with the Town police station accusing him (Kumar) of duping Akhtar and a few others of Rs 1.75 crore.