PATNA: This Banka village has set an example which is unheard of, particularly in a state like Bihar known for huge number of litigations and pending cases in courts.
Not a single criminal case has been lodged against any resident of this village in Banka district in the last five decades, thanks to the initiative taken by the residents, whose five-member committee look into their complaints and act accordingly. In Jamua, about 45km west of the Banka district headquarters town, the committee look into the complaints of the aggrieved residents and reach an amicable solution, instead of reporting the matter to the nearby Belhar police station.
A village committee member listens to the complaints of the villagers.
Bihar, on an average, records 2.60 lakh cognizable offences per annum and Banka district alone contributes over 3400 cases.
Jamua has a population of around 600 people, mostly belonging to Koeri (Kushwaha) and Yadav community. The village committee last week solved a three years’ long dispute between one Yugal Prasad Singh and his sons Dilip Kumar and Pramod Kumar, who often indulged in violent attacks on each other. “The rival factions avowed before village committee not to indulge in any unlawful activity. Now they are happy,” Shailendra Kumar Singh (38), a member of the committee, said on Friday.
“It took lots of perseverance to reach this stage. Neither any FIR has been ever been lodged nor any complaint has reached the local court in the last five decades,” said Shailendra, a postgraduate in history from Nalanda Open University (NOU).
Another member of the committee, Mithilesh Singh (34), said, “It involved economics as well. The committee persuades the people not to lodge any complaint either with the police or in the court as lots of money is spent on a case. Also, much time is wasted in shuttling between the police station and the court once an FIR is lodged. And, all the residents agreed to the proposal.”
Pankaj Singh (30), who used to assist the committee, said even those complaints which couldn’t be solved after the intervention of circle officers or block development officers were taken up by the committee and solved. For example, a dispute over a plot of land belonging to Manoj Kumar Singh and Dinesh Kumar Singh was resolved by the committee after the circle officer and other administrative officials had failed to solve.
“There are numerous occasions when disputes have amicably been solved without police intervention,” said Pradeep Turi, the mukhiya of Jhikuliya panchayat under which falls Jamua village.
Belhar SHO Vinod Kumar corroborated the claims of Jamua residents. “I have not received any complaint from Jamua ever since I assumed charge as SHO earlier this year,” he said, adding, “there is no record of any case lodged against any resident.”
When asked, Banka SP Arvind Kumar Gupta said, “A panchayat is empowered to look into criminal cases of petty nature (read non-cognizable offences) under the Panchayat Raj Act. The initiative of the Jamua villagers is a good example of empowerment of panchayati raj system.”
The residents, however, rued that they didn’t have a community hall to hold a meeting of the committee. As a result, they either meet at the primary school or on the road to discuss the issue. Vegetable growing is the main source of income for most of the residents.