If Nitish Kumar's rise as the Chief Minister of Bihar in November 2005 is seen as the onset of what he calls "sushasan" or good governance, then multiple award-winning IPS officer Amit Lodha's contribution in ridding the state of routine kidnappings, murders and rapes is significant -- at least that is what emerges from a real life cat-and-mouse tale that Lodha has now penned -- with some caution.
But within months, a dreaded outlaw from Shekhpura district killed 15 people in a matter of two nights. "He had killed a sitting MP, a sitting MLA, and a BDO, among many others," Lodha recalled.
The urbane IIT allumnus and flamboyant Indian Police Service (IPS) officer was transferred to Shekhpura, a sleepy mofussil town, as its superintendent of police. It was a posting he was not looking forward to, Lodha said, as he was used to serving in comparatively better and more urban areas like Muzaffarpur, Nalanda and Patna. "Like every human being, I also wanted good posting," he said.
Notwithstanding this initial disappointment, things changed for Lodha after he visited the village where the brutal massacre had taken place. "There was a considerable change in my attitude immediately," he said.
The villain in this case is referred to as Vijay Samrat in the book. "The Gabbar Singh of Shekhpura" ruled the adjoining areas with an iron fist and his writ ran large -- people were scared and the police force under-staffed, with few resources.
What followed was an adrenaline-fuelled cat-and-mouse chase that took place across three states during Lodha's tenure in Shekhpura, culminating, of course, in the feared criminal's arrest.
But Lodha is not among those to take all the credit alone. "Amit Lodha ne akele kamal nahin kia hai, mere sipahi, constables aur hawaldar ne apne jaan pe khel ke usko pakda tha," he said, pointing out the role of his juniors in the operation. He also said his wife had been a constant support all through the journey -- full of ups and downs as the life of a police officer may be.
Lodha has, however, changed the names of the criminal and his accomplices in the nonfiction book, published by Penguin India.
"Frankly speaking, he is very dangerous and he has made two attempts on my family. So I thought if not for myself, then for my family's security I must avoid the name in the book. I have taken a risk with this book. One of his accomplices is also out on bail currently," he said.
The sequence of events, nonetheless, seem to be an apparent reference to the arrest of Pintu Mahto, a dreaded gangster of the notorious Ashok Mahto gang, whose scores of killings include the brutal murder of former veteran Congress MP Rajo Singh.
Pintu was wanted in as many as 30 cases of murder and abduction, including the Nawada jail break in 2002 when he and his accomplices had escaped after killing two policemen.
Over the course of his career, Lodha has been a part of a number of successful operations, including the arrest of gangsters and rescue of kidnap victims. He has been awarded the prestigious President's Police Medal for Meritorious Service, the Police Medal for Gallantry and the Internal Security Medal for his work.
(Saket Suman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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