Now Bihar under fire for suppressing fake shootout


Patna : The Bihar government is under fire for allegedly suppressing the killing of three brothers in a fake police shootout last year to save the skin of a ruling party legislator even as police claimed they were criminals killed during crossfire.

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The recent outcry over the 2005 killing of a Muslim man and his wife in a fake shootout in Gujarat has given fresh hope to the family of the three brothers – Ram Singh, Lakshman Singh and Bharat Singh – who were allegedly killed Aug 25, 2006 in Nawadaben village in Bhojpur district, about 70 km from here.

The family members and villagers alleged that ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U) legislator Bhagwan Singh Kushwaha was responsible for the killings.

People's Watch, a human rights body that has raised the issue, alleged the Nitish Kumar-led government had attempted to protect the interest of the legislator involved in it.

Gladson Dungdung, a spokesperson of the body, said the state government has violated the Right to Information (RTI) Act in this case. "The government has not responded to an application filed under the RTI for information on the case even after 35 days," he said here last week.

Besides the family members of the three slain brothers, the entire village repeatedly said the trio were killed by police without any provocation.

"After the police raided their house, two brothers had surrendered and the third one was dragged out of his bed. They were shot in cold blood," said a report of People's Watch prepared on the basis of statements of the villagers and family members.

The rights body had questioned the story on the police side arguing that two deputy superintendent of police (DSP) rank officials, five inspectors and about 150 police personnel were involved in the shootout but none of them received any injury.

Satrughan Singh, the only surviving brother of the family, even alleges that a police official, minutes before the killing, had assured someone on his mobile phone that they (the brothers) would be killed.

"I had met Chief Minister Nitish Kumar twice to seek justice and action against police officials but nothing has happened," he said.

People's Watch officials said this case was much more serious than the staged killing in Gujarat. "We demand the government to take action against police officials without delay," Dungdung said.

The widows of the three brothers and Singh are hoping for justice in view of the Gujarat shootout controversy.

Last year, they staged a protest in New Delhi and sought intervention of the National Human Rights Commission for justice. They also demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the killings.

The Bihar government Thursday decided to recommend a CBI probe into the killings.

The villagers of Nawadaben had protested against the killings by blocking traffic and demanding the arrest of Deputy Police Superintendent S.S. Thakur, who had led the police team into the killings.

A.C. Verma, inspector-general of the state's Criminal Investigation Department, was asked to probe into the incident by the state government. In his report, Verma said it was a genuine shootout.

The Gujarat police, acting on a Supreme Court directive April 24, recently arrested three senior Indian Police Service (IPS) officers for killing an innocent Muslim in a fake encounter in November 2005 after claiming he was a terrorist.