Nearly 70,000 criminals, including politicians and lawmakers, have been convicted and punished for various crimes in Bihar -- a state that was once notorious for its lawlessness -- thanks to speedy trials by fast track courts, police officials said on Wednesday.
"This is a success story of the state government led by Nitish Kumar, who is serious about containing crime and improving law and order in Bihar since he came to power in November 2005," said a senior police official.
Additional Director General (police headquarters) Ravinder Kumar said the high rate of convictions due to the fast track courts that have been functioning since January 2006 has led to a decline in Bihar's crime rate.
"We have succeeded in controlling crime through speedy trials in the last six years," he said.
For the first time in the history of the state, over a dozen members of Parliament and state legislators have been convicted and punished for various crimes, Sharma said.
According to a report compiled by the police, a total of 69,851 people have been convicted in the state between January 2006 and May 15 -- higher than any comparable period for decades.
"In the past, the rate of conviction was very low -- only about 3,000 to 8,000 in a decade. But the speedy trials conducted in almost all pending criminal cases by different courts, including fast track courts and special courts, made a huge difference," he said.
Impressed with the success of these 'speedy trials', the police of neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, which has an equally high crime rate, want to adopt this concept.
When Janata Dal United leader Nitish Kumar became the chief minister on November 24, 2005, he promised to make the state crime-free within three months. But he was forced to admit later that this was not possible and set up special courts to dispense justice.
The conviction of so many criminals in such a short span of time is a big achievement and a model for other states to follow, said Kumar.
State police officials claim that Bihar has surpassed other states in awarding the death sentence to the maximum number of people.
The chief minister has time and again told the people that criminals now fear disturbing the law and order situation in the state because of his 'political determination to prosecute them through speedy trials'.
He claimed that the high rate of convictions has instilled a sense of fear in the minds of criminals and anti-social elements.
There has been a sharp decline in the number of abductions and other crimes, including murder, robbery, bank dacoity and road hold-ups, according to the police.