Anguished mothers of kidnapped Bihar children plead for justice

July 11th, 2008 - 11:06 am ICT by IANS  

By Imran Khan
Patna, July 11 (IANS) Two anguished mothers in Bihar are at their wits’ end as they knock on every door they possibly can for help in recovering their sons who were kidnapped almost a year ago. From Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to the police and to dozens of other people, including priests and astrologers - tearful Anju Pandey and Savita Devi have met them all, but their sons are nowhere near being found.

Devi’s son Satish Kumar was kidnapped nine months ago from Sonepur in Saran district. She has met the chief minister on six occasions during the “janata darbars” or public audiences he conducts to interact with the people but to no avail and has now threatened to commit suicide.

“I got only assurances whenever I met him,” she lamented, adding: “I have no option. I will simply consume poison to expose the government’s failure to trace my kidnapped son,” she said after meeting Nitish Kumar at his public audience earlier this week.

Pandey’s son, 14-year-old Akash Pandey, was kidnapped from Patna nearly 11 months ago.

She has met Nitish Kumar on five occasions at his public audiences to plead for speedy action by the police to trace her kidnapped son.

“I was given assurances only but nothing has happened. It is sad that the government has failed to trace my kidnapped boy,” Pandey said.

Devi and Pandey are just two of hundreds of mothers like Punam Devi, whose son Ankit was kidnapped over 14 months ago but is yet to be traced. Besides, there are dozens of wives who are awaiting the return of their kidnapped or missing husbands, and sisters who are hoping for the safe return of their kidnapped brothers.

According to official reports, 2,068 children were recorded kidnapped in Bihar between 2003 and 2007. Of them, 1,690 have been recovered, while 304 are still missing.

Kidnapping has become a thriving industry in Bihar, with nearly 5,000 people, including hundreds of children, being abducted in 2007 alone.

The Nitish Kumar government had come to power after the 2005 assembly elections, promising to check the kidnapping industry in the state.

The chief minister had promised Akash’s family a month after he was kidnapped that he would be found as soon as possible.

In May, Akash’s abductors sent a letter to the boy’s parents saying he was alive and well and demanding a ransom of Rs.1 million.

The state government had recommended a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe after the letter was received but this is yet to begin, officials said.

“I have no choice but to approach Nitish Kumar time and again despite the fact that his assurances and promises have proved to be useless,” Akash’s mother said.

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