Ten lynched in Bihar weren’t thieves: official inquiry report


Patna : A high-level probe has found that the 10 men who were lynched by a mob in Bihar’s Vaishali district last week were actually not thieves, police officials said Wednesday.

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All 10 victims were poverty-stricken Kueris, a sub-group of a nomadic tribe called Nat.

Official sources in the state police headquarters told IANS that the inquiry report into the lynching incident has made it clear that the victims were not thieves as reported.

Last Thursday, a mob beat 10 men to death with bamboo sticks, iron rods and bricks in Dhelpurwa village in Vaishali, about 40 km from here. A day later the Bihar government had asked Inspector General (administration) Anil Sinha to inquire into the administrative lapses and mishandling of the situation that led to the incident.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had ordered a Criminal Investigation Department (CID) probe into the incident last week.

The CID is likely to submit its report either this week or next week. “The CID report will give a clear picture of the incident,” a source in chief minister’s office said.

“Sinha in his report categorically mentioned that the victims were not thieves and the lynching was not a sequel to any crime or theft case,” a police official said on condition of anonymity.

Sinha, who is also spokesperson of Bihar police, submitted the report to state police chief Ashish Ranjan Sinha Tuesday.

Sources in the police, quoting from the report, said the victims were returning from a feast and got involved in a heated exchange with an auto-rickshaw driver over fares near Dhelpurwa. This led to screaming and shouting that attracted a mob, which beat them up mercilessly.

Two days after the lynching incident, state Home Secretary Afzal Amanullah had said that no evidence was found to suggest that the victims were thieves.

Sinha’s report directly blamed the local police for the incident. “It (the lynching) was the result of serious administrative lapses that could have been prevented had the police acted promptly,” the report said.

It said even the Gram Raksha Dal (village security group) was not posted there. It further pointed out that local police had no inkling of the horrifying incident, suggesting lack of communication between the police and the locals.

The villagers justified their act by claiming that the group of 11 people were thieves who had been giving them sleepless nights for the last few months.

Police managed to rescue a person from the mob. He was admitted to Patna Medical College and Hospital in a critical condition.

The Nat community has demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the incident.

They have threatened to launch a state-wide protest if a CBI probe is not ordered. Lal Babu Khalifa, state president of the Akhil Bharatiya Nat Vikas Sangh, demanded the immediate arrest of the guilty on murder charges.

Savita Natraj, another community leader, has demanded a compensation of Rs.500,000 to the family of each of the victims and a government job.

She said the community was also deeply hurt by the treatment meted out to the victims. The half-burnt bodies of eight of the 10 men were recovered from Konharaghat on the banks of the Ganga Sunday, though police had claimed they had cremated all bodies last week.

The police had reportedly thrown the half-burnt bodies of the victims into the river and later claimed they had not been given enough money for the cremation.

In a damage-control move, the state government had transferred Vaishali District Magistrate Lallan Singh and Superintendent of Police Anupama Nilekar. The officers-in-charge of Hajipur and Rajapaker police stations and the Vaishali district welfare officer have been suspended.

A team of the National Commission for Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-nomadic Tribes visited the district last week to probe the lynching incident.

The National Human Rights Commission has asked the Bihar government to submit a report on the incident in the next four weeks.