Two killed in police firing in Bihar


Patna : Two people were killed and over a dozen injured in Kahalgaon town of Bihar’s Bhagalpur district Saturday when police opened fired on people protesting the death of three people in police firing the day before.

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Tension mounted in Kahalgaon, about 150 km from here, after hundreds of people gathered outside the National Thermal Power Corp (NTPC) plant Friday morning, protesting against acute power shortage.

Three people were killed and at least 20 others injured when police opened fire. Police claimed they fired on the crowd after some protesters attacked them.

Hundreds of protestors took to the streets Saturday to the protest the killings. They set ablaze a hospital, blocked roads and pelted stones on policemen deployed in the town to control the situation. Police opened fire to control the mob and two people died in the firing.

But local people said they were staging a peaceful protest against the killing of three people and frequent power outages when police opened fire without any provocation.

A large number of security personnel, including Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel, were deployed in the town to prevent further escalation of violence.

“The situation has gone out of control after reports of fresh deaths in police firing,” a senior district administration official said.

All the injured, including police officials, have been admitted to hospitals.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has directed Principal Home Secretary Afzal Amanullah and Additional Director Genral of Police (Headquarters) Abyanand to rush to Kahalgaon and stay there till normalcy returns.

Acute power shortages have sparked protests in many parts of the state. Electricity offices have been ransacked in at least two-dozen districts in the last few weeks.

According to energy department officials, at present the state needs 1,500-1,600 MW of power. Though the central allocation is 1,170 MW, the state has so far received 700-800 MW from the central pool.

Faced with severe power crisis and violent protests, Bihar Energy Minister Bijendra Prasad Yadav sent a strongly worded letter to the central government earlier this month, alleging discrimination against states that are not ruled by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

In the letter, the minister accused the union government of allotting an additional 40 MW of power to Jharkhand, ignoring Bihar’s demand.

The current situation seems to have given fresh ammunition to all political parties as the ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U) leaders blame the central government and the opposition parties attack the state government.

JD-U activists in Patna burnt the effigy of the UPA government for failing to resolve the power crisis in the state, while the activists of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), the major opposition party in Bihar, burnt an effigy of the chief minister.

State Congress president Sadanand Singh has demanded a judicial inquiry into the killing of people in Kahalgaon.

“The Congress has demanded a judicial probe and adequate compensation to the kin of all the five victims,” Sadanand Singh told IANS over telephone from Kahalgaon.

Singh hails from Kahalgaon and represented it in the past.

Shyam Rajak, former power minister under the Rabri Devi administration, said the state had received an additional 90 MW from the central pool due to the efforts of RJD chief Lalu Prasad.