State of Fear

The strangest thing about being kidnapped, says Mohammed Salahuddin, was how familiar—and even inevitable—it seemed. The 53-year-old political activist had already negotiated a $2,000 ransom for his brother Badruddin in December 1998, and a few years before that he had secured his first cousin's release from another gang. So Salahuddin knew exactly what was happening when 10 armed men surrounded his Jeep on March 25 as he drove to a party meeting in a remote corner of India's northeastern Bihar state. Holding him at gunpoint, they yelled: "Move and we'll shoot!" Salahuddin recalls: "There was nothing I could do. In some...

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