26 arrested for arson in Patna, named FIRs against 100, police tackle rumour mongering

Police say rumour mill working overtime, suspect involvement of high and mighty in instigating a section of residents in Rajiv Nagar locality of Patna to create disturbance.

india Updated: Sep 06, 2017 11:07 IST
Avinash Kumar
Avinash Kumar
Hindustan Times, Patna
Patna police,Rajeev Nagar,anti-encroachment drive
The mob burnt at least heavy machinery equipment used during an anti-encroachment drive in Patna on Tuesday. (Santosh Kumar/HT photo)

The Patna police have arrested 26 persons and registered cases against 100 named and 1,000 unknown persons in connection with Tuesday’s arson at Ghurdaur Road in Rajiv Nagar locality of Patna.

An irate mob resorted to heavy brickbatting and clashed with the police, forcing cops to fire 50 rounds in the air to disperse the mob during an anti-encroachment drive on Tuesday.

Wednesday’s arrests in the early hours followed the police scanning video footage till late Tuesday evening. More arrests were likely to follow, senior superintendent of police Manu Maharaaj said.

Three FIRs had been lodged with the Digha police station on charges of road blockade, arson, brickbatting and attempt to snatch police weapons, he said.

Talking to HT, Maharaaj said, “We have had to tackle rumour mongering in the area. Some vested interests have spread the message that the district administration is out to evict the entire Rajeev Nagar locality. We are only interested in 4 acres of the area, which has been given to the passport office and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), based on a Supreme Court ruling.”

Illegal constructions have come up on at least 600 acres of the 1024 acre disputed area in Rajeev Nagar.

Mob resorted to brickbatting, forcing police to retaliate, during an anti-encroachment drive in Patna on Tuesday. (Santosh Kumar/HT photo )

The SSP suspected the rumour mongering and public instigation against the police to be the handiwork of the sand mafia and people from the adjoining diara (land created in the middle of the river due to deposition of sand over a long period of time).

“We have already identified some high and mighty people from the diara areas to be involved in yesterday’s incident and will reveal their names after their arrest,” he added.

READ | Eight policemen among 20 hurt in clash during anti-encroachment drive in Patna

Maharaaj and Patna district magistrate Sanjay Kumar Agrawal complimented the administrative and police teams for their deft handling of the situation.

They said the attack on the anti-encroachment team was part of a well-planned strategy, as the mob had strategically positioned women and children in front. This did not allow the cops to resort to baton charge. “The instigators, for petty gains, wanted some deaths to take place in the incident. However, the police exercised utmost restraint and prevented the situation from flaring up,” Maharaaj added.

More than 20 persons were injured on Tuesday. The trouble started when a team of the district administration and police reached the spot to demolish illegal constructions and boundary walls built by locals on the land acquired by the Bihar State Housing Board (BSHB) in the 1970s.

The situation deteriorated after the mob resorted to brickbatting and set afire three JCB machines and a police vehicle.

The dispute at Rajiv Nagar is nearly four decades old. Hundreds of constructions have come up on housing board land, which the real estate mafia had illegally sold to gullible people on the basis of forged documents in connivance with officials.

ADG (headquarters) Sanjeev Kumar Singhal had directed the SSP to investigate how private constructions came up on BSHB land, acquired from farmers, after the same was handed over to it in 1980.

First Published: Sep 06, 2017 11:07 IST