`Street justice’ in the bylanes of Bihar

By Imran Khan, IANS,

Patna : Ashok Sahni, who belonged to an extremely backward caste, was beaten to death for falling in love with a girl from a different community. He was one of over a dozen people lynched in Bihar last month, a clear sign that mobs are rushing in to deliver “street justice”.

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The state government’s failure to punish people involved in meting out such instant justice seems to be encouraging them. What’s more, people are being lynched over minor issues.

Sahni, who was in his early 20s, was beaten to death with bamboo sticks and bricks by relatives of the girl in Sedukha Mananpur village in Samastipur district, about 80 km from here. He was attacked after being caught with the girl, police sources said.

According to an FIR lodged by his father, Sahni was beaten to death instead of being handed over to the village council or the police.

In another case, a mentally challenged man was beaten to death by a mob in Gotkharik village in Bhagalpur district on charges of trying to administer injections to children.

Police said some girl students told the villagers that a man was trying to lure them so that he could administer injections.

A group of people attacked him with bamboo sticks, bricks and stones. He was seriously injured and fell unconscious. Some people took him to the house of a village council member. But before police could intervene, he was dragged out and beaten to death.

Another man, Mithilesh Singh, was lynched for allegedly attempting to rape a 12-year-old girl in Kelbanni-Dahiyar village in Samastipur district. Singh was caught by the family members and thrashed to death.

Nasib Paswan was fatally beaten by the family members of his wife for opposing her alleged extramarital relations in Betadi village in Bhojpur district.

A teashop owner, Abdul Qayum, in his 40s, paid with his life for a delay in serving tea to a group of youths in Doriya chowk in Araria district.

In mid-April, two people suspected of committing theft were lynched by a mob in Pokhra village of Siwan district. Both the victims belonged to the socio-economically weak nomadic Nat community. They were brutally beaten after they were allegedly caught stealing a water pump set. The eye of a victim was gouged out by the mob.

In early April, Ram Pravesh Mahto, in his late 20s, was beaten to death after he was allegedly caught stealing books from a printing press in Patna.

There are several such cases across the state, particularly in rural areas that go unreported.

A senior police officer admitted that some criminals were lynched in April. “Police are aware of the rising incidents of lynching in both urban and rural areas,” he said.

People these days justify the act of “street justice”.

“What is wrong in lynching a criminal or a man trying to outrage the modesty of a girl?”asked Ashok Singh, a businessman.

Last year, over three dozen cases of lynching were reported. The worst incident occurred in September last year when 10 people from the underprivileged Kueri community in Vaishali district were beaten to death over alleged theft. Later, a high-level probe found that the men were not thieves as the villagers had suspected.