|The shopping mall of Radha Charan Seth in Ara and (left) the suspected drug kingpin. Telegraph pictures
Two decades ago, he sold jalebis near a railway station. Like the rounded sweet, Radha Charan Seth’s life has taken quite a turn.
He remains at large and preliminary investigation after a drug haul last week suggests he is the kingpin of a narcotics syndicate. His prosperity is something others in the trade envy. Such is the rags-to-riches story of this once-timid village boy from Bhojpur district. Seth, 53, is a household name in the narcotics trade. Ara residents recall he owned a makeshift sweetmeat shop near Ara railway station, around 60km west of Patna, two decades ago.
He left the trade after coming in contact with an influential RJD leader in the late 1990s. He allegedly became a drug courier and soon graduated to becoming a major supplier because of his political links.
Despite being a wanted man, Seth is an icon for many in Ara, especially the youth who adore him like a god for the lucrative jobs he gave them.
Born into a middle-class family that owned a small piece of land, Seth now owns a palatial building in Babu Bazar locality of Ara and has a fleet of cars, including SUVs at his disposal. Gun-toting men greet visitors to his bungalow in the heart of the town.
About five feet and six inches in height, Seth usually sports a spotless white dhoti and kurta with a towel thrown across his shoulder. A thick gold chain adorns his neck. He reportedly owns a hotel in the heart of town and two shopping malls at Mahavir Tola. He is fond of luxury cars.
Seth’s name figured during the interrogation of five drug peddlers arrested from Rupaspur near Danapur in Patna last week. Heroin worth Rs 2 crore was seized from them. The arrested persons claimed they were involved only in supply of heroin.
A police officer, sent from Patna to Ara to inquire into Seth’s antecedents, said: “I was zapped to see at least 20 luxury vehicles at his state-of-the-art bungalow on over 20 cottahs in the heart of town.”
Patna senior superintendent of police (SSP) Manu Maharaj said a special police team has been set up to take on drug peddlers. Preliminary probe reveals Seth, now at large, was the ringleader.
The SSP said Seth had made huge investments in real estate and purchased land outside Bihar. “We’ve decided to seek economic offences unit’s help to get details of his property outside the state,” he said.
Sources said Seth’s brother Hakim Prasad was seen sharing the dais with a senior RJD leader during the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections. Even Seth is believed close to controversial former MP Prabhunath Singh.
A family acquaintance said: “Over a dozen ministers and senior bureaucrats had attended the wedding of Seth’s brother a decade ago. The family is also close to some senior Congress leaders of the state.”
Residents claimed Seth had been arrested earlier too but managed to get released soon, thanks to his political connections. He runs a syndicate, which allegedly has a network in Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Nepal.