Bokaro City police station where two of the minor accused are being interrogated. Picture by Pankaj Singh
Tired of being intimidated into paying a cut from their pocket money, two school students with help from friends allegedly beat a local toughie to death in Bokaro late on Wednesday evening.
While the duo are absconding, their two aides — who are also minors and one them the son of a BSF personnel — have been detained by Bokaro City police for interrogation.
The incident is a pointer to poor policing in the steel city that leaves youngsters vulnerable to extortion rackets run by individuals and gangs, and has the hazardous potential of turning schoolchildren into juvenile delinquents.
More than 10,000 students from neighbouring Bihar and Bengal, as well as fringes of Uttar Pradesh, flock to Bokaro every year to take admission to its many elite cradles. In the absence of adequate school hostels, they end up staying in rented homes or private hostels and become easy targets for hoodlums like Indra Bahadur Singh, alias Guddu.
The 29-year-old, police claim, was a contractor by profession, but addicted to smack (heroin) and marijuana. He used his clout to force students, particularly those from outside the state, to bear the financial burden of his lust for narcotics. He threatened them with dire consequences if they didn’t fork out cash as and when he needed.
Guddu had been arrested for extortion and snatching in the past, but had managed to come out on bail.
According to the police, the two Class XII students of a reputable city school, who stay at a rented house in Sector III, had been Guddu’s victim for more than a year. Every month, he hassled them for money — anything between Rs 400 and Rs 1,000 — and the slightest sign of reluctance invited his ire.
On Wednesday morning too, Guddu asked the teenagers to pay up. The boys made one of their two friends, also residents of Sector III, call their tormentor to a nearby field at night “to collect the cash”. But, as soon as Guddu reached the field around 9.30pm, the boys allegedly attacked him with bamboo poles and iron rods. When he collapsed bleeding, they ran away.
Guddu’s brother Vijay Bahadur Singh, who was standing at shop in Sector III, had seen him going alone into the field. When he did not return after half an hour, Vijay rushed in that direction and found Guddu in a pool of blood. He took his brother to hospital, but doctors declared him brought dead.
Later, Guddu’s father Raj Kishore Singh told police about the rendezvous call he had received in the evening. The teenaged aides of the students were picked up from their homes on Thursday morning. They denied the fatal assault allegation, but confirmed that Guddu extorted money from the students for buying drugs.
Bokaro DSP Anil Shankar corroborated Guddu’s chequered past. “The deceased had criminal antecedents and was a drug addict. He was arrested last year on the charge of threatening schoolchildren and taking money from them,” the senior police officer said, adding that the teenagers were being grilled and a hunt had been lodged for the two key murder accused.
On why policing was slack in the steel city that gave goons like Guddu a free run, SP Kuldeep Dwivedi claimed that their hands were tied because victims of extortion never lodged a complaint.
“I have requested people to come forward if they receive such threats. They must contact the nearest police station or call on my mobile number (9431706418). I will look into the matter,” he promised.
How can extortion of students be checked in Bokaro?