The Lynching of 10 suspected burglars by a mob on Thursday is only the latest and most heinous in a series of such incidents in the state. Recent months have seen mob justice being meted out swiftly and brutally with alarming alacrity.
On August 27, a man who snatched the chain of a woman in Bhagalpur was thrashed to within an inch of his life by an unrelenting crowd. That wasn't the end of his punishment. Two policemen then tied him to their motorcycle and dragged him. Last Sunday, a crowd of people, including a few policemen, assembled at Barauni Thermal Power Plant in Begusarai and watched in silence as two alleged thieves shot by the plant’s private security guards for trying to steal scrap bled to death. When the officer in-charge of the nearby police station was suspended for negligence, locals rose in protest.
Earlier this week, three alleged motorcycle thieves were beaten brutally, one of them blinded, by a mob in Nawada. The victims later claimed it was a case of an old enmity. Last Tuesday, villagers in Araria surrounded and beat up a group of motorcyclists who had come to threaten them on behalf of some dacoits. The police just about managed to rescue the dacoit-supporters.
Begusarai has witnessed at least four “lynchings” over the past year. Mohammad Ansar of Birpur village, an accused in several cases, was killed by a mob last January. Birhania Bazar resident Ranjeet Poddar, a suspected robber, met the same fate in March. Vinay Rai of Rani was killed by co-villagers for an alleged rape bid. And Sabita Devi was killed in full public view last September for falling in love.
Even the police aren’t safe. On Wednesday, a sub-divisional officer in Madhepura had to lock himself up in a room when the participants of a pension selection camp turned violent.
Alarmed by this growing trend, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has convened a meeting of top officials on Saturday. Principal Secretary (Home) Afzal Amanullah told HT on Thursday: “It is heartening to note people have developed confidence to oppose criminals. That said, it must be made clear that none will be allowed to take the law into their hands.”