Lawlessness and absurd laws

When it comes to all-things-Bihar, it is often difficult to separate myth from reality…But I will nevertheless persevere…So let me tell you a little about what the situation was in the original Jungle Raaj, when the crime rate was at its peak, kidnapping was rampant, looting was common and dacoity was a legitimate profession. The people were scared to stay in Bihar, especially the rich. Most people were afraid to even buy new cars. Why? At best, it resulted in carjacking, at worst, a kidnapping! In fact, you even felt the heat when you bought an air-conditioner to beat the heat. Thus, people rode around the town in dilapidated old-model Fiats and Ambassadors, simply to avoid the glare of the common crook.

Hence, people migrated from Bihar so their children could play after sun-down, companies were terrified to do any business in Bihar, tourism industry was at an all time low, and people were generally terrified of venturing outside their house, especially in the night. So basically there were no jobs, no tourism, no safety, no entertainment…basically no life!

Being a permanent resident of Bihar and presently residing in the city of Patna and looking at the complete apathy on the part of the current government has left me baffled and scared for my family’s safety. Being a lawyer by profession, I can definitely say that after Maha-Gath-Bandhan came to power, the crime rate has definitely seen a meteoric rise. The government is not doing much to mitigate the alarming situation; instead it is busy devising new ways to extract money from the people and impose their way of thinking.

In Jungle Raaj 1, the money was extracted by criminals working for the rich and powerful people whose name most of the readers already know by now (thanks to the CBI chargesheets and Fodder Scam), by way of kidnapping, dacoity, etc but the situation has not completely changed.  It has simply altered its form.

And the icing on the cake came in through the absurd law of prohibition (on alcohol), which has just manage to add some fuel to the fire. In fact, if you do not reside in Bihar, you will have a hard time believing the absurd laws that have been put in place, especially in regards to prohibition. So basically now, if you are caught even with a small bottle of liquor at your home, or you are consuming liquor in the privacy of your premises, you will surely be arrested and booked under sections in which “term of punishment [is to be] not less than 10 years but which may extend to imprisonment for life with fine which shall not be less than one lakh rupees but which may extend to ten lakh rupees”. Of course, since that is not enough to satiate the power trip of the powerful, they will then seal and auction off your house. It’s unforgivable! But it’s the truth!

Now-a-days catching the criminals has become a secondary priority, for the police is more interested in catching the alcoholics or someone who enjoys an occasional drink. I would like to share a recent charade by the cops. There was a marriage ceremony in one of the most reputed hotels in Patna where the police arrested 7 people, who were consuming alcohol in the privacy of their hotel room. The mighty police stormed their room and arrested them. Their crime was indeed so grave that the judicial magistrate declined their bail plea. I wonder if having celebratory drinks in the privacy of your room has become a more heinous crime than rape?!? After all, look at the quantum of punishment! What’s ironical is that this comes at the hand of the very chief minister, who advocated and promoted the sale of liquor as it was an important source of revenue generation for the government.

What’s surprising is how the same Chief Minister who also increased the number of liquor shops across Bihar, suddenly decided to ban it, completely disregarding the effect his decision will have on the people, especially addicts who may even lose their lives. For readers who don’t know what the impact of withdrawal, let me tell you that it can range from mild anxiety to seizures to delirium tremens, and can even turn fatal (1% to 5% of the alcoholics, who suddenly stop the intake of alcohol, die). So one must consider if the complete ban on alcohol (not even allowing alcoholics to gradually detox) was right on the part of the very government that promoted it in the first place. The Chief Minister of Bihar, in fact, announce a compensation for the family of the deceased. Which means, the Chief Minister is well-versed with the repercussion of his decision. But apparently ‘value of life’ means little to the Chief Minister. Ask anyone who has ever lost a beloved…if compensation can ever be a replacement? Besides, I’m sure you all know by now…who will really pocket the compensation in the end.

As per a survey there are 65 lakhs people who have been affected due to ban on the liquor industry and whose livelihood was dependent on the liquor trade. The government did nothing for these people in terms of alternate sources of income. So what will happen to these people? Well, the government just doesn’t care. So if these people don’t have any other source of income (as anyways there are hardly any jobs in the state), what are these people to do? Are they to starve to death or find other means and most of these means will result in the increase in day-to-day crimes. As I understand the basic psychology of humans that they will not let others eat cake if they are starving.

The total loss of revenues and taxes is estimated to be around 4000 crores per annum and in a poor state like Bihar, it’s a huge loss and the government did nothing to compensate for the loss of the excise duty, so I am just waiting to see what will be the government excuse to delay the payment of its public officials. [Did you know the state government does not even have money to pay salaries to its teachers?!?]

The Chief Minister also said that those tourists who drink, are not welcome in Bihar. We know that it will impact the tourism industry. The big companies will also be a little hesitant before coming to Bihar due to the absurd law. The people who socially drink will also think about settling outside the State.

So basically in Jungle Raaj 1 the companies were hesitant to do any business in Bihar, tourism industry was at all time low, people were terrified going outside their house in general specially in the night. So basically there was no jobs, no tourism, no safety, no entertainment, etc. and many were leaving the state because they were afraid of the criminals and now in Jungle Raaj 2 it’s the same situation as the people are afraid of the criminals and the public officials and the absurd laws.

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