Opinion | Why Bihar's Law and Order Situation is in Shambles Under 'Sushasan Babu' Nitish Kumar's Rule
In general, Nitish received appreciation for the work done in Bihar but what earned him the title “sushasan babu” was the immense improvement in the law and order situation and betterment of roads.
File photo of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. (PTI)
In alliance with the BJP, the JD(U) came to power in Bihar for the first time in 2005 and Nitish Kumar took charge as the Chief Minister. Nitish went on win two more Assembly elections after that — in 2010 in alliance with the BJP and in 2015 with Lalu Yadav’s RJD. In general, Nitish received appreciation for the work done in Bihar but what earned him the title “sushasan babu” was the immense improvement in the law and order situation and betterment of roads.
It was only his undisputed image of “sushasan babu” that resulted in Lalu Yadav accepting his leadership to lead the RJD-JD(U) alliance when the duo decided to challenge the BJP in Bihar.
But if one looks at various crime related incidents in Bihar during the last one year, more so after the breakup of the alliance between the JD(U) and the RJD, it is absolutely clear that the law and order situation is at a very low level in the state at the moment. There are crimes which get reported in the media while there may still be many which escape the media’s eye.
Even if one counts the reported incidents, it is extremely alarming. There are numerous instances of crimes against women, abduction, extortion and murder. One would end up filling pages after pages if one starts listing all the crimes.
While it is difficult to say what may be the real cause of the deteriorating law and order situation in Bihar, some say this is a fall out of complete liquor ban, a law which has been put in place in Bihar during the last couple of years. While this new law, which makes sale, consumption of liquor an offence attracting stringent punishment, is being celebrated by people across the country it has also resulted in the beginning of a parallel economy for liquor.
The authorised liquor shops have closed and many associated in the business are on the streets. On the other hand, the illegal sale of liquor seems to be now controlled by the “dabang” (local powerful people mainly young male members) in the villages. This illegal business of sale and distribution of liquor can’t be possible without a connection with the people in power.
What seems to have happened is that the pool of people who either engage in these crimes for their survival or out of their arrogance has become very large. While some of those who lost their livelihood because of the liquor ban seem to be engaged in petty crimes for their survival, those with the “connections” are engaged in bigger crimes as they hardly fear the authorities.
People offer two reasons for the increasing crime, first is a failure of the police due to lack of numbers, poor quality of training and outdated arms and weapons. The second reason is the connivance of the police with the people at power, and those engaged in such crimes.
While one can’t deny that the police in Bihar do suffer from the inadequacies or poor training, but findings of a recent survey conducted by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) in association with Common Cause suggest that people in Bihar blame the police for the spurt in crime mainly on account of their connivance with the people in power.
The survey reveals that a large number of people in Bihar hold a very negative opinion about the police, there are only a few states where people hold a much poorer view about the police than in Bihar.
According to the survey, 54% people in Bihar said that the police are corrupt, 34% believe that they themselves violate law and order and play a partisan role. There is a large number of people (77%) who said that political parties interfere in the functioning of the police. All this makes people showing a very low degree of trust in police in Bihar.
The trust in the lower rank of police personnel is very low though people do show a great degree of trust in higher-ranked police officers. In fact, 48% showed a very high degree of trust in the senior police officials, highest compared to all other states. But they believe that even senior police officials work under a lot of control of the political bosses.
Police are the main agency for maintaining law and order situation in any state. It does so with active participation of the citizens. Citizens are willing to help, cooperate and work with any agency police being one of those when they see it working for the people at large.
Sadly, people do not hold such a view about the police in Bihar, like in many other states. While the police should seek active participation of the citizens in controlling petty crimes, but what seems to be happening is that the crimes, mainly related to the illegal sale of liquor, are being committed with full knowledge of the police and they prefer to look the other way. Under such prevailing situation, how do we expect the law and order situation to be any way better.
(Sanjay Kumar is a Professor and currently director of Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS). Views are personal )
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