National Commission for Minorities chief Wajahat Habibullah will travel to Bihar on Tuesday to probe the alleged police excesses in a Muslim hamlet of Araria district. The police opened fire and killed four villagers on June 3, including an infant, in Araria’s Forbesganj area.
In a grisly video of the incident, shot by an onlooker and uploaded on YouTube, the police are seen wreaking vengeance by jumping on the body of a dead man. The video also shows the police beating listless dead women while superintendent of police Garima Malik looks on. One of the women was four months’ pregnant.
In the melee, a bullet struck a woman, ricocheted and exited through the back of her seven-month-old baby on her lap, killing both.
The police opened fire after villagers brought down a wall on government-acquired land, which they claimed cut off their only road link with neighbouring areas.
“Those who kill women and kids are called terrorists,” the deceased infant’s grandfather Rafiq told HT.
Vice-president Hamid Ansari met the survivors on Monday while Congress president Sonia Gandhi heard them on Saturday.
The Bihar government has ordered a judicial probe but Shabnam Hashmi of Anhad, a Delhi-based rights organisation, said a fair inquiry was not possible unless SP Malik was taken off duty or suspended.
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar was reported as saying that he would comment only after the probe is concluded. “I don’t think the state government can shut down all information just because a probe is on,” Habibullah said.