|One of the closed factories in the Fatuha
Industrial Area. Picture by Sachin
The proposed master plan for Patna would incorporate Fatuha but criminals in the area expanding their reach is a reason for worry.
In the early 1990s, the sub-divisional town of Fatuha, around 25km east of Patna, thrived as an industrial hub. Over the past years, it has turned into a crime hub.
Sources said the town is the home and workstation to all sorts of criminals. From pickpockets, bag lifters, bank robbers to extortionists and truck hijackers, several of them can be traced to the area on the eastern outskirts of Patna.
Sources said the town is now the playing field of at least six organised gangs — each of them has around 20-30 men in their ranks. What is more disturbing is the gangs regularly rope in teenagers.
“Before the teenagers are employed, they are screened. Many of them are on their payrolls. If someone goes to jail, the gang funds his bail and also supports his family,” a senior police officer said.
He added: “Juveniles are preferred because they are slapped with light terms.”
Patna senior superintendent of police (SSP) Manu Maharaaj told The Telegraph: “The area has become a hotbed for several gang lords and their henchmen. We have learnt that gang lords operating from jails are pushing teenagers into crime.”
Residents and traders of Fatuha are fed up.
Jyotindra Nath Prasad, a resident, said: “At one time, businessmen from outside the state visited the market here. But things changed after law and order deteriorated during the RJD’s 15-year-rule.”
Spare parts of farm tractors and scooters were manufactured at Fatuha-based industrial units in the early 1990s. Over 5,000 people worked in plywood factories. Tuntun Gope, Pappu Gope, Bhuklu Paswan and Sanjay Gope to name a few gang lords created a reign of terror in the area.
The pattern of crime changed over the years, said deputy superintendent of police, earlier posted in Fatuha, Nilesh Kumar. The criminals expanded to bank robberies and truck hijackings. An inspector, earlier posted in the Fatuha circle, said the area gained notoriety for providing shelter to pickpockets and robbers who would strike goods trains. “Many of them moved up to bank robberies and truck hijacking,” he added.
Last week, 11 people owing allegiance to slain kingpin Babloo Gope were apprehended from Fatuha, Bakhtiyarpur in Patna rural and adjoining Nalanda district. “The gang used to hijack goods trucks plying on the national highways. They would kill the drivers and cleaners before selling off the valuables in the market,” said SSP Maharaaj.
“Extortion has become order of the day. Girls and women have to bear the brunt of criminals, who gather at liquor shops,” said Laxmi Narain Singh, who runs a homeopath clinic at Fatuha Bazaar.
Some gang leaders have even moved to real estate business and jewellers dealing in stolen goods also popped up in the area, sources said. In such a scenario, the master plan has proposed to incorporate Fatuha among 13 blocks in the Patna Metropolitan Region. Sources fear this would prompt a war of supremacy among gangs in the area.