Kumar Rajiv Nayan

Ara : Forced Chanda (donation) collection by anti-social elements has become a major irritant for bus passengers, truck drivers, commuters, school children and businessmen. They stop buses at every chowk and market and clash with the drivers and conductors demanding money in the name of puja celebrations. They even hurl bricks and stones at the vehicles if the drivers does not cough up ‘adequate’ amount as donation.

This year, the chanda collectors are targeting schools and residential areas as well. They barge into a school or house in groups and virtually force 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 few police officials. One Mangal Singh, a truck driver, said he is scared of entering Bihar carrying goods. There is no such forced collection in Utter Pradesh, he said.

The goons put up barricades at several places forcing the vehicles to stop. The donation amount is fixed between Rs 100 and Rs. 500 depending on the bargain. According to locals, some criminals of the area have also joined hands with these ‘extortionists’. They terrorize businessmen and schools owners in the name of these criminals and the hapless people have no option than to part with their money. In fact ‘Chanda’ collection goes on throughout the year albeit on different pretext- New Year, Saraswati Puja, Holi, Ramnavami and Dipawali.

According to a rough estimate, a bus owner operating between Buxar-Patna, Sasaram-Patna via Ara and Ara-Mohania has to give around Rs. 50,000 each year as ‘Chanda’. Some miscreants stole electric wires of the area to operate in the cover of darkness and also cut cables to prevent the residents from informing police. Some criminal cases were instituted in this connection by different police stations in the past, but hardly any action was taken against the miscreants. Meanwhile, bus owners have threatened to keep their vehicles off the roads if the administration does not stop forcible collection of ‘Chanda’.

Bhojpur SP Awakash Kumar said that police wwere keeping a close watch on miscreants to check forcible collection of Chanda. The SP said the police stations had been asked to book those found collecting chanda forcibly.

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