Mourning Bihar town refuses to observe Muharram


Patna : Tension still runs high in Kahalgaon town of Bihar’s Bhagalpur district and in protest against last week’s police firing that left five people killed, the Muslims did not observe Muharram Sunday.

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The five people were killed and over a dozen others injured in police firing over the past two days in Kahalgaon when hundreds of people staged protests against acute power shortage that has been plaguing many parts of the state.

A day after violent clashes between the police and people that left the town shocked and upset, angry people were seen gathered at several places Sunday and discussing how to protest and seek justice for those killed in the police firing.

“We want justice and stern action against guilty police officials,” Mithlesh Kumar, a local businessman, told IANS.

“We have decided not to observe Muharram to show our anger and to protest against police brutality in Kahalgaon,” said Shahzad Alam, a Muslim youth of Kahalgaon.

“Muslims in the town were deeply hurt by the police action against people protesting acute power shortage, as two of the five killed in the police firing were Muslims,” he told IANS.

One Muslim youth was killed in the police firing Friday and the other Saturday.

According to sources, Mohammad Khairuddin, 18, was dragged by the police Saturday from his home in Kazipur, a Muslim populated locality, beaten in full public view and then shot dead. IN the process, another Muslim youth, Mohammad Aslam, suffered serious injuries and has been hospitalised.

The whole event was captured by a cameraperson and subsequently shown by a local television channel that sparked more protests Saturday.

Officials here said Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar Saturday night ordered a judicial probe into the police firings on Friday and Saturday.

Acute power shortages have sparked protests in many parts of Bihar, one of the least developed states of India. Electricity offices have been ransacked in at least two dozen districts in the past few weeks.

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

Hundreds of people took to the streets Saturday to protest the killings. They set ablaze a vehicle of a hospital, blocked roads and pelted stones at policemen. The police opened fire and two more people were killed.

The residents said they were staging a peaceful protest against the killing of three people and frequent power outages when the 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 government earlier announced a compensation of Rs.100,000 each to the victims of police firing and transferred officials, including the officer in charge of the Kahalgaon police station.

According to energy department officials, the state needs 1,500-1,600 MW of power. It at present produces no electricity, as both its power plants at Kanti in Muzaffarpur and Barauni in Begusarai have been declared ‘sick’ since 2000.

Though it is supposed to get 1,170 MW from the central grid, the state has so far received only 700-800 MW, officials here complained. This was the core of the whole crisis, they added.