One word has been recurrently used during the recently held Bihar Assembly elections is – Jungle raj. The word Jungele raj is used to refer to the period between 1990 and 2005 when Lalu Prasad Yadav and his wife Rabri Devi were in power in Bihar.
The results of the Bihar Assembly were declared on November 10, 2020. The NDA retaining the state came as a shocker for the liberal cabal who were dreaming about Tejashwi Yadav, known as the heir of Lalu’s Jungleraaj, taking the oath of the Chief Minister. Out of desperation borne of out this, propaganda website the Print published an article by Rakesh Chandra the next day. Chandra is an Assistant Professor of Planning and Management at the Centre for Health Policy, Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS). The article was an attempt to say that Nitish Kumar and the BJP were falsely declaring the Lalu-Rabri rule as Jungle raj. In order to prove his point and to whitewash the character of ‘the prince of RJD’, he tried to deny the existence of jungle raj by presenting some magic figures.
An effort was made through these figures to prove that the jungle raj was nothing more than pure imagination, by saying that the data does not support that the Laly-Rabri rule was jungle raj. Bihar election results proved how far removed the liberal media and the so-called intellectuals are from the ground and how they are restricted to their world of fantasies. Before coming to the facts of that article, read this statement carefully:
We are sure to die, it does not matter if God kills us or Shahabuddin
These words were said by a father about four years ago. The name of father is- Chanda Babu. Chanda Babu’s two sons were brutally massacred by Shahabuddin by pouring acid on them. His third son was murdered for turning a witness. Who was Shahabuddin? He was a member of Parliament from Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD. He used to run a parallel government. He wasn’t scared of opening fire at police. The whole government would come on its knees if he got upset. Whose political patronage had caused this fear? The answer is simple- Lalu Prasad Yadav.
The brutal killings of Chanda Babu’s three sons are registered as three murders in statistics. But do the statistics capture their horrifying murders? How did Chanda Babu spent his life in fear? How many parents were terrified by this incident? How many Shahabuddins did it allow to trample the law?
The data may tell the many murders and kidnapping had taken place but can it show how murders and kidnappings had become a ‘business’? How it became a way to earn money? How such a nexus of politicians, government officers and mafia was never seen before? And most importantly, how this business of crime was run by goons like Shahabuddin?
On the night of October 16, 1994, former RJD MLA from Triveniganj, Yogendra Naarayan Sardar abducted a Dalit girl from her house, put her in his Jeep and raped her. This incident might have been mentioned in the data as a rape case but how will this data reflect the how scared the Dalits and how unsafe women might be after this incident ?
Not just the ordinary people but no one was safe during that period. Wife, mother and niece of IAS officer BB Vishwas were raped for two years. When the matter came to light, the whole government machinery came out to save to culprits. Which data can reflect this reality?
Whether it is Bathe massacre or any other caste genocide, they find mention in the data as few murders. But how deeply these massacres affected the Bhumihars will not be reflected in the data. The fear that the slogan of ‘Bhoora baal saaf karo’ instilled in the upper castes will not be revealed by the data.
There is no end to the list of such incidents that happened in that period. Jungle raj, in reality, is a feeling which cannot be denied on the basis of few numbers. This feeling is very much alive even in 2020. This is the reason that during our election coverage when we questioned merchants in Gaya as to why they voted for BJP despite their city being infamous for filth, traffic jam and waterlogging, the replied- we can at least carry our business comfortably without fearing that anyone would come out of nowhere and grab our collars.
Ideally, the TISS professor should be aware that mere quantitative analysis of data does not provide the complete picture. If he fails to measure the social fear, cannot describe the manner in which those crimes were conducted, then he should stop fooling students by teaching in such institutions.
References like Jungle raj are not borne out data of crime but out of the fear instilled by crime. Police refusing to file a case and even when they do people end up like Chanda Babu, things like this do not get registered in data.
The terror of Jungle raj is still felt in Bihar in 2020. This was the reason whoever we talked to be it the youth of Kenar Chatti or college going girls of Patna, everyone was apprehensive that if RJD returned to power the same fear of Jungleraaj would return.
These apprehensions are not baseless. On November 11, a 60-year old woman from Malmal village of Benipatti Assembly constituency told us, “Everybody is inside their homes ever since the results of Dheni Tol. Everyone had taken money from the one with lantern symbol (RJD candidate). Everyone is distressed after the defeat. But Ramnaresh’s son has been roaming in the whole village in his car since morning waiting to pick a fight with someone”.
Which data can show the fear that this old woman feels from a particular section even after losing power, Professor Sahab? Remember that Nirbhaya rape case will be counted as just one incident of rape but it had shaken the whole country.