Policemen who killed four villagers, including a seven-month-old infant, during a protest in Bihar’s Forbesganj area appeared to have no immediate provocation to open fire, National Commission for Minorities chairperson Wajahat Habibullah, who led the inquiry team, told HT on Monday.
A man in uniform who stomped on the chest of one of the dead was actually a fireman attached to a fire-engine deployed at the site, Habibullah added. He has now been charged with murder. It appears that fire personnel transgressed their roles to join policemen in enforcing law and order, something they are not trained to do.
Forbesganj's Bhajanpura village witnessed a gruesome crackdown on June 3 when police fired on villagers who had demolished a wall on government-acquired land, which they claimed cut off their only road link. A pregnant woman was among those killed.
Lok Jan Shakti chief Ram Vilas Paswan on Monday appealed to Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi to visit Bhajanpura, a minority-dominated village, to draw “national attention to atrocities on minorities in Bihar”.
Paswan alleged that Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar stayed away from visiting the village under pressure from the BJP, an ally. The acquired land had an Eidgah, a religious facility, and was being given to a BJP legislator's family for business, provoking people, he alleged.
“We need Rahul's support on this. Nitish Kumar is going (Gujarat chief minister) Narendra Modi's way. Minorities are being threatened by RSS, something which never happened in Bihar before,” Paswan said.
The incident has handed Paswan's LJP — which faced a drubbing in the recent polls —a hot-button issue to take on the BJP-backed Nitish Kumar government. Paswan announced a booklet campaign at every district with crime data.
In a grisly video of the June-3 incident, uploaded on Youtube, men in uniform are seen wreaking vengeance by jumping on the body of a man killed, as district superintendent of police Garima Sharma looks on. All those killed or injured belonged to a minority community.