Bihar Assembly Election 2020: ECI orders removal of Munger SP, DM after protests turn violent
On Thursday morning, an angry mob went on a rampage in Munger town against the district police administration’s alleged indiscriminate firing and destroyed public properties worth lakhs of rupees and torched several police vehiclesUpdated: Oct 29, 2020, 16:51 IST
The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Thursday afternoon ordered the immediate removal of superintendent of police (SP), Munger, Lipi Singh, and the district magistrate, Rajesh Meena, as a backlash to a police firing incident in Munger town that had occurred in the intervening night of Monday and Tuesday, leading to a death of a teenager and grievous injuries to at least nine youth.
Earlier on Thursday morning, an angry mob went on a rampage in Munger town against the district police administration’s alleged indiscriminate firing and destroyed public properties worth lakhs of rupees and torched several police vehicles.
The district police administration had allegedly opened fire during a procession that was taken out to immerse Durga idols on Monday night. The poll panel has also ordered an inquiry into the firing incident and asked for the submission of a report within a week.
A teenager, Anurag Kumar Poddar (18), was killed in the police firing and another nine youth were grievously injured. Two of the critically injured youth -- Sumit Kumar and Deep Bharti -- have been referred to Bhagalpur hospital.
Altogether, 27 people were injured in violent clashes between the police and a section of those who took part in the procession to immerse Durga idols.
The incident has sparked a political row amid the three-phase Bihar assembly polls and the opposition parties have waded in to attack the outgoing Nitish Kumar-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.
The probe will be conducted by Asanba Chuba Ao, divisional commissioner, Magadh, and will be completed within seven days.
“The new DM and SP will be posted at Munger on Thursday itself,” the ECI said in a statement released.
National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has also taken cognisance of the police firing in Munger and asked the Munger SP to submit a report in the next 48 hours.
The ECI’s action came hours after thousands of locals, including women, ransacked the Purabsarai police station and torched several vehicles.
The protestors also ransacked the Munger SP’s office, sub-divisional officer’s (SDO) residence in the town and pelted stones at Kotwali police station.
Properties worth lakhs of rupees have been damaged due to the violent protests. Fire brigade personnel could not reach the troubled spots, as roads were blocked by the protesters. The mob torched all the vehicles parked at the police station.
The family members of Poddar, the only son of a hardware shop owner, who received a fatal bullet injury in his head, have alleged that the district police administration is trying to shield the personnel, who was responsible for the teenager’s death.
Poddar was a first-year undergraduate student and had celebrated his 18th birthday last week on October 22.
His father, Amarnath Poddar, alleged that the state government was “trying to save the accused police officers”.
Local residents alleged that over 150 people, aged between 12 and 28 years, who belonged to Bekapur, Sadipur, Lohapatti, Myur Chowk and Kiranapatti neighbourhoods of Munger town, were missing since the incident.
They have demanded immediate compensation to the families of the victims and those undergoing treatment in hospitals.
Several localities in Munger town such as Rajiv Gandhi Chowk, Pandit Deendayal Chowk, Gandhi Chowk, Purabsarai, Neelam Chowk, Shhetalpur Chowk wore a deserted look on Thursday.
However, the district police administration has claimed that someone from the crowd opened fire amid a blame game between local residents and law enforcing authorities.
“Arrogant” Munger SP Singh has drawn the locals’ flak.
“The tragic incident occurred, despite the presence of an honest and upright deputy inspector-general (DIG) in the district. Yet, a 2016-batch Indian Police Service (IPS) official took the decision on her own to open fire without consulting neither DM Meena nor DIG Manu Maharaj,” local residents alleged, requesting anonymity.
SP Singh is the daughter of retired Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer RCP Singh, who belonged to the Uttar Pradesh (UP) cadre and also a sitting member of the Rajya Sabha (RS) from the ruling Janata Dal (United).
Her husband, Suharsa Bhagat, is also an IAS officer and is posted as the Banka DM.
Munger, which voted in the first phase of the Bihar polls on Wednesday (October 28), reported the lowest turnout at 47.36%, as compared to 52.24% in 2015.
The opposition, Grand Alliance (GA), or the mahagathbandhan, comprising the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), the Congress and the Left parties, on Wednesday had condemned the “unprovoked” police firing and compared it to the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh tragedy.
The GA demanded immediate dismissal of the Bihar government while Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Bihar on Wednesday to address three election rallies.
The second and third phase of the elections will be held on November 3 and 7, respectively.
The election results will be declared on November 10.