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When murders, kidnappings were an ‘industry’, only Shahabuddin and ‘the family’ ruled: The infamous saga of ‘Jungle Raj’ in Bihar

Lalu Yadav's time as Bihar chief was the darkest time in the state where crime and chaos was normalised.

When you hear the words ‘Jungle Raj’, what comes to your mind? 15 years of Lalu Yadav’s term in Bihar is often termed as the one. Out of these 15 years, his wife Rabri Devi was Chief Minister of the state for 8 years. But he was the mastermind behind her tenure. In these 15 years, murder and kidnapping became an ‘industry’ in Bihar. It was one of the most preferred means of earning money. The nexus that formed between officials, mafias, and politicians were never seen in the history of India.

The overwhelming stats

Lalu Raj ended in the year 2005. If we consider only that year without concentrating on the rest of 14 years, the stats are still horrifying. There were 3471 murders reported in 2005 in Bihar. 251 kidnapping incidents and 1147 rape incidents were also reports. In 2004, 3948 people were murdered in Bihar. Also, 411 kidnappings for extortion and 1390 rape cases were reported.

During his tenure, Naxal attacks increased by several folds. Many leaders of RJD had strong connections with the Naxals, and it helped them in gaining votes. As a result of this nexus between Naxals and politicians, Naxal attacks increased every month. In the year 2005, 203 such incidents took place.

For a large portion of 2005, Bihar had President’s rule. However, as Lalu Yadav was the railway minister in the UPA-1 government in the center with 22 MPs of RJD in the Lok Sabha, he virtually ran the Bihar government. His considerable influence in the center made it easier for him to keep a tight hold on the state.

After Nitish Kumar assumed power in late 2005, things started to change. In 2006, criminals started to get afraid of the law. As per the stats, by the time Nitish Kumar completed his first term in 2010, around 50,000 criminals had been brought to law. During Lalu’s tenure, convictions were almost negligible. Several murder cases were not even reported, and when people went to file the case, they were usually made to disappear from the face of the earth even before they could reach police station.

The ‘Shahabuddin Terror’

Shahabuddin’s terror flourished at its full swing during Lalu’s era, especially in Siwan, which he represented in the Parliament. Anyone who tried to contest against him was fired upon. If any police personnel tried to take action against him, he would have fired upon as well. The current JDU MP Om Prakash Yadav of Siwan and DGP of Bihar SK Singhal have firsthand experience of his terror. Those who put up posters of the leaders of opposition candidates also disappeared. Several activists of the opposition were killed.

Many goons and crooks in Bihar were politicians and contractors. It was a complete system in which Mafia used to take tenders for development work. It is understandable the condition of the completed projects under such groups. When a criminal became a leader and supported or raised a hundred like him, the ‘industry’ grew quickly without much fear.

In 2003 there were 3652 murders and 1956 abductions. In 2004, 3861 people were murdered, 1297 cases of robbery reported, 9199 cases of rioting recorded, and 2566 cases of kidnapping were registered in Bihar and 8189 instances of rioting. Every year, around 10,000 riots took place in the state. The number improved significantly from 2005 to 2010.

Several leaders killed

No one was safe during Lalu’s tenure. MLA Ajit Sarkar, MLA Devendra Dubey, Chhotan Shukla, who was contesting elections or Minister Brijbihari Prasad: they all were killed. IAS officer Bibi Vishwas’s wife, Champa Vishwas, her mother, niece, and two meds were raped. DM G Krishnaiah’s mob lynching.

This was a time when the people’s representatives were not safe. Whether MLA Ajit Sarkar, MLA Devendra Dubey, Chhotan Shukla, who is contesting MLA, or Minister Brijbihari Prasad – these people were killed in the rivalry. Even the officers were not safe. IAS officer BB Vishwas’s wife, Champa Vishwas, her mother, niece, and two maids were raped. DM G Krishnaiah was lynched to death by a mob.

Inaction from Lalu government

Lalu Yadav was busy in scams. Currently, he is serving jail time in the fodder scam case. Many officials and leaders were involved in the said scam. They were so busy minting money that they did not even leave the fodder of animals from the claws of corruption. As a result, the treasury of Bihar was in huge debt and public welfare schemes did not take off.

The infamous brothers-in-law of Lalu

The dominance of Subhash Yadav and Sadhu Yadav, Lalu Yadav’s brothers in law, is well known. There were reports that whenever a daughter of Lalu Yadav was married, they took away vehicles from showrooms. The situation was so traumatic for businessmen that no one wanted to do business in Bihar. Lalu spent over Rs 100 crores from government funds on every marriage in his family. More than 25,000 guests were invited to each wedding. The officers were appointed to serve the leaders and not the public.

Whenever Lalu Yadav was asked about the development and problems faced by people in the state, he ignored them. His statements about Hema Malini and Mamta Kulkarni used to make it to the headlines. Whenever there were floods in Bihar, he used to say that now fishes will come to the homes in Bihar. People can cook and eat them. If someone asked about the bad condition of roads, he said that if roads were built, the animals’ hoof would get ruined.

Money was not enough for a good lifestyle in Bihar. If someone had bought a car, it became a symbol of status and money and put the family on kidnappers’ radar. From doctors to engineers and from layers to businessmen, anyone who was earning good during that period had to pay criminals to stay safe.

If a family member is not back home by 6 PM, people feared the worst

The situation of law and order was at its worst during Lalu Yadav’s tenure. It was in such bad condition that if someone did not come back home by 6 PM, there would have been chaos among the family and relatives. It was not possible to know when someone would be killed or disappear from the face of the earth. Whenever police recovered a dead body, people used to think of their relatives or someone else. Employment and education were not even topics of discussion. They were ignored as if they never mattered during the period of ‘Jungle Raj.’

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अनुपम कुमार सिंह
चम्पारण से. हमेशा राइट. भारतीय इतिहास, राजनीति और संस्कृति की समझ. बीआईटी मेसरा से कंप्यूटर साइंस में स्नातक.

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