Kumar Rajiv Nayan

Ara : Forcible collection of  ‘Chanda’ (donation) by hoodlums in the name of different festivals has become a major irritant for bus passengers, truck drivers, commuters, school children, businessmen and even the commonmen in Bhojpur district.

Youth stop buses at every chowk and market and clash with the drivers and conductors demanding money in the name of Durga Puja celebrations. They even hurl bricks and stones at the vehicles if the drivers dod not cough up ‘adequate’ amount.

This year, the chanda collectors are targeting schools and residential areas as well. They barge into a school or house in groups and compel people to part with whatever amount they demand. If anyone dares refuse, they threaten him with dire consequences.

Some harassed bus and truck drivers said it was being done allegedly in connivance with the certain district administration and police officials. One Mangal Singh, a truck driver, said he is scared of entering the State with his truck carrying goods. There is no such forced collection in adjoining States like Utter Pradesh, he said.

These hoodlums put up barricades at several places forcing the vehicles to stop. The amount is fixed between Rs 100 to Rs 500, depending on the bargain. According to the locals, some criminals of the area have also joined hands with these ‘extortionists’. They terrorise businessmen and schools owners. In fact ‘Chanda’ collection goes on throughout the year albeit on different pretext, be it the New Year, Saraswati Puja, Holi, Ramnavami, Muharram, Deepawali, Eid or Chhath.

According to a rough estimate, a bus owner operating between Buxar-Patna, Sasaram-Patna via Ara and Ara-Mohania has to shell out Rs 50,000 each year as ‘Chanda’. Some miscreants allegedly stole electric wires of an area to operate in the cover of darkness and also cut cables so that the residents of the area could inform police.

Some criminal cases were instituted in this connection with different police stations in the past, but hardly any action was taken. Meanwhile, bus owners have threatened to keep their vehicles off roads if the administration did not stop forcible collection of ‘Chanda’.

Bhojpur SP Aditya Kumar said that police were keeping vigil to stop forcible Chanda collection by the hoodlums and added he had instructed to book those found collecting Chanda forcibly or indulge in anti-social activities. He said if such case is reported to police, stern action would be taken against such Chanda collectors.

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