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Last Updated: Monday, 24 January, 2005, 13:45 GMT
Strike over Bihar boy's abduction
By Abishek Prabhat
BBC News, Delhi

Map of northern India showing location of Bihar
Hundreds of school pupils in the eastern Indian state of Bihar are observing a day-long strike to protest against the kidnapping of a student.

About 200 private and convent schools in the state capital, Patna, remained closed as a mark of solidarity with the protesting students.

Kishalay Gupta, 14, was kidnapped from outside his Patna house on 19 January.

Bihar is widely believed India's most lawless state where extortionists and kidnappers regularly target the rich.

Political issue

Students have organised relay hunger strikes and sit-ins at several places in Patna.

Bihar politician Laloo Prasad Yadav
Students met influential Bihar politician Laloo Prasad Yadav

They have called for a boycott of cultural programmes during India's Republic Day celebrations on Wednesday.

The students plan to take their protests to the house of the state's governor if Kishalay is not freed by 28 January.

His kidnappers have not made any ransom calls nor have the police been able to make a breakthrough.

Some suspects have been detained for questioning but no formal arrests have been made.

Kishalay's friends and colleagues have been holding prayers and protests in an effort to put pressure on the police.

A delegation of students also met the president of the state's ruling Rashtriya Janata Dal party and federal railways minister Laloo Prasad Yadav.

Mr Yadav assured the students his party's government would do everything possible to secure the boy's release.

With elections due in the state next month, Kishalay's kidnapping is fast turning into an election issue.

Opposition parties are using the case to highlight the state's poor law and order situation while Mr Yadav and his party colleagues are blaming the media for projecting a negative image of the state.

In November, about 20,000 doctors in government and private hospitals in Bihar went on strike in protest at the killing of a local surgeon.

Profile: Laloo Prasad Yadav
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