Bihar Jewellery Association warns government for prolonged shutdown against robberies

42 pc rise in criminal cases in 2016-20, says NCRB data


June 10, 2022

/ By / New Delhi

Bihar Jewellery Association warns government for prolonged shutdown against robberies

According to data published by NCRB, crime rate in Bihar has risen by 42 pc in the period 2016-2020 as the number of cases rose from 189,000 cases in 2016 to 269,000 in 2020

Jewellers in Bihar are up in arms against the state government and the police for failing to curb robberies that have risen by over 70 pc in the past four years. They warn of a prolonged shutdown of the market in protest against the failure of the police to protect them.

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On November 23,  2019, India’s biggest gold robbery took place when a group of 8 armed robbers looted 55 kg gold from Muthoot Finance Company in Hajipur in Bihar. A few months earlier, on February 6, 2019, another major gold heist took place in the state when armed robbers struck another outlet of the same company, this time in Muzaffarpur and walked away with 32 kg of the precious metal, valued at INR 100 million. Besides these two major robberies, when jewellery worth INR 300 million was taken, Bihar has been reporting several other attacks on jewellery shops all across the state.

For instance, Alankar Jewellers’ shop in Darbhanga district was looted in broad daylight on December 2020 by five masked men at gunpoint, who took away goods worth INR 50 million. The robbers escaped by firing in the air to scare away the crowds. Another major robbery took place on January 2021 in the capital Patna, where 35 kg of gold, worth INR 200 million was looted from SS Jewellers, even though the shop was barely 100 metres from a police station. There have been several other cases where shops that have been looted stood at a distance of a few hundred metres from the nearest police station.

The spate of robberies has led the jewellers and other victims raise their voice against the deteriorating law and order situation in the state. They allege that every alternate day, crimes against jewellers, gold finance companies and banks take place in the state, while the robbers manage to get away with impunity.

Officials of the Jewellers Association of Bihar estimate that from 2019 onwards, about 400 jewellery shops have been looted at gunpoint in daylight. The association claims that in the robberies, over 400 kg of gold worth more than INR 2 billion was taken away by the robbers, adding that many jewellers have also been shot dead if they tried to resist the robbery. The Association officials, who did not want to be identified, tell Media India Group that many businessmen had been also shot dead while travelling to their shops from home for their cars, bikes, phones, and money.

The jewellers say that at least in half the cases, only part of the jewellery looted was found by the police and that in many other cases, the police had failed to recover any of the robbed goods, even after having arrested the alleged robbers.

Another allegation levelled by the jewellers against the police is that they refuse to file cases in many incidents, especially when the attacks take place on small businesses. It was only when the association enforced a shut-down of the markets that the police relented and registered the cases.

Police failing on all counts

The jewellers’ association says that police and the government have consistently failed to protect their businesses from attacks and that the police inaction has emboldened the robbers to repeat their activities more frequently. The association officials threaten that if they are not provided proper security and if there is no improvement in the law and order situation in the state, they will be forced to organise a statewide protest and shutdown as had been done in 2001 when the government under chief minister Rabri Devi had also failed to control the criminals. The association says that the governments seem interested in only collecting taxes and not in providing security to the citizens and businesses.

Indeed, even the government data points at a sharp rise in lawlessness in Bihar. According to the data published by the National Crime Reports Bureau (NCRB), crime rate in Bihar has risen by 42 pc in the period 2016-2020 as the number of cases rose from 189,000 cases in 2016 to 269,000 in 2020.

The number of robberies grew at a much faster rate, jumping from 1410 in 2016 to 2399 in 2020, a 70 pc rise and murders rose by 22 pc from 1410 to 2399 in the same period.

Despite the pleas, the jewellers say that attacks on their businesses have continued to increase despite their pleas. A Begusarai trader was so dissatisfied with the police that he requested the chief minister Nitish Kumar to help in bringing the culprits to justice. He was threatened with grave consequences for failing to pay the extortion money.

Nitish Kumar

Good governance?

The spike in criminal activities in Bihar has been highlighted by the opposition parties who attack Kumar for failing in curbing crime. Kumar had won the elections over 15 years ago promising to stamp out crime from Bihar as the previous chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav’s rule had also seen a sharp rise in crimes in the state, leading to allegations that it was a jungle raj. Kumar has also projected his image as a Sushasan Babu (Good governance officer).

But with the spike in crime, the RJD, the principal opposition, has got the same stick to attack Kumar with. It blames the government for failing to maintain law and order. Leader of the Opposition Tejashwi Yadav said Bihar is becoming the crime capital of India. Moreover, Association for Democratic Rights (ADR), an NGO that tracks politicians and politicial parties, says that 70 pc of MLAs of the ruling coalition had criminal charges against them. It also said that Bihar had the highest rate of dissatisfaction with police investigations, and it was the state with the second lowest level of trust in the police.

‘‘The law and order in Nitish Kumar’s first tenure was visibly better than the previous years, but he was not able to ensure this USP in his subsequent terms,’’ Professor DM Diwakar of the AN Sinha Institute of Social Sciences in Patna was quoted by media recently.



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