The Bihar Post

Changing trend in Bihar: Chhath puja no longer guarantees a ‘crime-free’ environment

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PATNA: There was a time when Chhath—one of the biggest festivals of Hindus in Bihar— guaranteed a “crime-free environment”. Even the police had occasion to relax a bit at that time as even the dreaded criminals and gangsters would dread at the mere thought of indulging in any criminal activities during this period. The most general conception among the common masses was that they could be affected by “Charak” (white leprosy) if they indulge in any kind of “unholy” act during this time.

Not anyone! Whether it is general occasion or “Chhath”, crime has become an order of the day today. What is strange, the criminals are community the crime with impunity. Believe or not, the state reported all sorts of criminal acts—from rape, murder, kidnapping and loot—in the past six days, making the social scientists wonder if the once holiest Hindu festival is fast losing relevance now.

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Of all, the most horrible incident took place on Sunday night—shortly after the devotees had offered prayers to the setting Sun—when a man entered into the house of a woman in Khajekala locality of Patna, and stabbed her furiously, inflicting as many as 30 wounds on many parts of her body in a bid to kill her before fleeing the scene. The woman has been admitted to a government where her condition is stated to be very critical.

On Sunday morning, an elderly couple was strangulated to death in their home in P & T colony in Patna. Initial investigation by the police suggested, the couple was killed with the help of a towel over apparent property dispute. The same day, a young woman was hacked to death in Bhagalpur district by the criminals who also carried with them her severed head.

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During the same time, the Patna police arrested two female teachers from a premier St Xavier’s High School for allegedly sexually brutalizing a lower kindergarten girl student in the school. Police apprehend they could be running the pedophilia racket. Both the arrested teachers were jailed later as the police claim to have gathered sufficient evidences against them.

Another shocking incident was reported from Begusarai where a five-year-old girl was bodily lifted while asleep in her home and thrown out in the field after rape. In addition to them, many incidents of theft and loot were reported from various parts of the state capital during the festival.

So, why the criminals have suddenly gone berserk? “The outlawed groups have lost faith in the God as the festivals have got commercialized—it has more become a ‘fashion’ rather than a way of life,” feels prominent social scientists professor Sachindra Narayan. According to him, previously, the people would observe Chhath or any festivals with “devotion and dedication” but now there appears to be a sort of competition among the people to celebrate them as they don’t want to be left behind others.

“Celebrating festivals today is like appearing at the Civil Services examination which nobody want to miss. Thus, the perversion,” he observed. “Also, the concept of religion has been modernized where arrival of such festivals meant more profits as fear factor—that they could be punished from deities if they charge much more price than the original cost—got pushed to the background. Apparently these factors broke the barriers of fear,” he opined.

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