Aditya Sachdeva killing: Why Nitish can’t afford to leave the business class to fend for itself

Bihar has a small diaspora of non-Bihari Indians. Living in the state for generations, they often come across as more Bihari than the true sons of the soil. Aditya Sachdeva, a young promising lad from a businessman’s family in Gaya, belonged to this diaspora, coming from a respected Punjabi Khatri family of Gaya.

Of all the stories being told about Bihar, the most enduring and inspiring narratives are woven around the enterprise of this community that comprises Marwaris, Khatris, Sikhs, Bengalis and a good number of South Indians. Marwaris, Khatris and Sikhs largely control trading that forms the biggest economic activity apart from the state-sponsored infrastructure development programme. You can hear a Sikh speaking fluent Bhojpuri in Siwan and Khatri trader indulging his customer in Mathili in Darbhanga.

In feudal and caste-ridden Bihar, trust was the only factor that motivated this diaspora to stay put in Bihar despite much social turmoil and ordeal. Aditya Sachdeva’s murder by Rocky Yadav, son of ruling party legislator Manorama Devi, has almost strained this trust to the breaking point. At the Punjabi mohalla in Gaya city, where a large section of Punjabi Khatri community lives, there is palpable fear.

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar. AFP

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar. AFP

Bindi Yadav, father of accused Rocky Yadav and husband of legislator Manorama Devi, is not an ordinary man. He is known as the uncrowned king of the underworld with unfettered access to arms and ammunition. In the police's perception, he is a man who maintained a delicate balance between the radical Left and the state. He was known as supplier of arms to the Maoists while staying on the right side of the state during the Lalu-Rabri regime.

Bindi Yadav’s widening arc of underworld activity was an attraction not only for Maoists and Lalu Prasad-Rabri, but also for Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (U). Though he was not directly inducted into politics, his wife was roped in apparently to take advantage of Bindi Yadav’s influence. ‘Power flows through the barrel of the gun’ is a political truism of the region that the latter exemplified. Ironically in Gaya, Jehanabad and adjoining areas, there has been little attempt by political leaders to change perceived correlation between political power and guns.

In this context, it will be naïve to think that Rocky Yadav getting enraged over being overtaken by a trader’s son and his friend and killing him are an aberration. Politics in Bihar, cutting across party lines, has patronised the culture of Mafiosi. The by-product of this culture is Rocky Yadavs across the state.

But Aditya’s murder reveals a different story of Bihar that concerns its small non-Bihari Indian diaspora which stands as testimony to the state’s inclusiveness. The most troubling aspect of the crime is that Bindi Yadav and Rocky Yadav are cocksure of getting away with the murder despite overwhelming evidence against them. It will be almost impossible for a Punjabi Khatri family to take on a dreaded gangster who is adept at manipulating not only the criminal justice system but also the state. The family will be exposed to enormous risks should they decide to pursue the course of justice.

There is all possibility of Aditya’s murder triggering panic reaction among affluent and educated Marwaris, Punjabi Khatris and Sikhs, driving them to wind up or whittle down their business enterprises and shift base to neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand or West Bengal. This is not the first time that non-Bihari residents have found themselves in such a situation. In the 15 years of the Lalu-Rabri regime, businessmen and traders migrated to other places due to deteriorating law and order situation.

However in Nitish Kumar’s time, the economy grew manifold with budget figures touching nearly Rs 1.48 lakh crore from a measly Rs 28,000 crore in Lalu’s time in 1995. This offered opportunities and attraction for the non-Bihari diaspora to expand business and make the state their home. This is the precise reason why the traders’ community reposed immense faith in Nitish Kumar’s capability as a leader. But there are harsh truths that cannot be overlooked.

Aditya’s brutal killing by the son of a legislator associated with Nitish Kumar’s party will grossly undermine this diaspora’s trust in state and faith in the rule of law. This is quite similar to the brutal murder of Gopalganj district magistrate G Krishnaiah on 5 December, 1994 by gangster-turned-politician Anand Mohan Singh near Patna. Since Krishnaiah was an IAS officer of the Bihar cadre, the state bureaucracy lent its might to take the case to the logical end and ensured conviction of Anand Mohan. The Sachdevas of Gaya will be left to fend for themselves.

There are enough reasons for Nitish Kumar to be worried about such an emerging scenario in the state. Though the non-Bihari diaspora may not be significant in electoral terms in the state, they carry the unique capacity to disseminate the right messages across the country. At a time when the Bihar chief minister has been making a determined attempt to pitch himself for the national stage, this diaspora’s plight and alienation would expose his Achilles’ heel.

Updated Date: May 09, 2016 21:16 PM

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