Bihar Police Shoots Dead Children and Women Protesting Against Attempted Rape

On the night of the Chhath festival in the Baghi Mohalla, Begusarai, the festive mood was broken by molestation of women by a policeman, followed by police firing on the ensuing protests which claimed 4 lives and injured several. Since then, the town has been up in arms in protest against the police barbarism. A CPI(ML) fact-finding team led by the State Secy. Ramjatan Sharma visited Begusarai on the 19 th , to investigate the incident.

The team came to know that for the last two months or so, the police force in the town had been provided with motorbikes for patrolling night and day. The patrol team in the Baghi Mohalla near the Begusarai railway station was headed by a havaldar, Dinanath Tiwari. He was in the habit of beating up people and harassing women. Local people had on several occasions complained to the DM and SP, but to no avail.

Since 10 pm on the night of the incident, a drunken Tiwari began harassing women returning from the Chhat ghat. People complained to the local thana and to the SP, but no action was taken. Around 11 in the night, Tiwari entered a poor 60-year old woman Devaki Devi’s house and tried to molest her granddaughter, an 18-year old widow Seema Devi. When the two women raised the alarm, a large crowd collected. Tiwari fled and hid in a telephone booth. Finding himself surrounded, he began firing indiscriminately at the crowd. Devaki Devi as well a 15-year old boy Sumit Kumar were killed on the spot, and several were badly injured. Some were taken to hospital, but the team found that several women and children nursed their wounds secretly on their own, for fear of the police.

The next morning, people returning from the Chhat ghat were shocked to see two dead bodies, and protests broke out spontaneously all over the town. Protestors blocked the Barauni-Assam highway, and vented their rage on the railway station and government vehicles.

Police responded to this popular anger, with more brutality. Police firing on the protestors blocking the highway claimed the life of a 10-year old child, and more than three dozen innocent people were arrested.

The CPI(ML) team held the Collector and local officials guilty for the incident, since it could have been prevented if only action had been taken against Tiwari months ago when the first complaints had been made against him. Declaring the incident to be yet another example of the anti-people, repressive character of the RJD Government, the CPI(ML) called for a statewide Protest Day against the Begusarai firing. The CPI(ML)’s call for a Begusarai Bandh on the 20 th was a great success. During the bandh, nearly a dozen party activists and leaders were arrested. Protests were also held at Patna, Arrah, Biharsharif, Nawada, Jehanabad, Arwal as well as several other district headquarters and town.