A black Raksha Bandhan for many in Bihar

August 16th, 2008 - 2:54 pm ICT by IANS  

By Imran Khan
Patna, Aug 16 (IANS) Two sisters Akanksha and Ankita Pandey in the Bihar capital did not celebrate Raksha Bandhan Saturday, for the second consecutive year, as there is no trace of their abducted brother Akash. Akanksha and Ankita, in their late teens, are among the hundreds of sisters across Bihar who did not celebrate Raksha Bandhan.

Akash Pandey, 12, was kidnapped while he was on the way to school Aug 10, 2007.

“Akash was abducted 17 days before Raksha Bandhan last year. This year again we have been waiting for news about him,” the sisters said.

Like last year, both prayed for their brother’s safe return on the day of Raksha Bandhan.

“We will not celebrate any festival till the safe return of Akash. There is no question of celebration,” they said.

The story of Satish Kumar, who was kidnapped over ten months ago from Sonepur in Saran district, is quite similar.

“His sisters and cousins hardly celebrated,” said Savita Devi, Satish’s mother.

The scene was no different at the home of Ankit, who was kidnapped April 12 last year from outside his school here and reportedly killed by his abductors.

But Ankit’s parents and sisters do not believe that their son is dead. “How could we accept that he is dead? The police failed to recover his body. One day he will return and his sisters will tie rakhi to his wrist,” Punam Devi, Ankit’s mother said.

Several families in Muzaffarpur, Bhagalpur, Patna, Begusarai, Vaishali, Samastipur, Darbhanga, Chapra and other districts also did not celebrate the Rakhi festival.

According to official statistics, 2,068 children are said to have been kidnapped in Bihar between 2003 and 2007. Of them, 1,690 have been found, 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 turn Bihar into a crime-free state within three months. He also promised 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.

Akash’s mother Anju Pandey has met Nitish Kumar on five occasions at his “janata darbars” or public audiences to plead for speedy action by the police to trace her son.

Similarly, Satish’s mother Savita Devi has met the chief minister on six occasions during the public audiences he conducts to interact with the people.

In May this year, 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.

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