Forbesganj Firing: Judicial probe panel begins hearing after one year

By TCN Staff Reporter,

Patna: More than one year after the gruesome killing of four unarmed villagers including an infant and a pregnant woman in police firing in Forbesganj of Bihar, the one-member judicial commission on Thursday began hearing to record statements from the victims, the company officials and district administration.

Support TwoCircles

According to civil rights activist Mahendra, who is assisting the victim families, the judicial commission headed by Retd Justice Madhvendra Sharan is visiting Araria and will camp at the district court premises for the three-day hearing beginning 21st June. On the first day the commission will hear Fatkan Ansari and his wife Tahira Khatoon. Their 20-year-old son Mustafa Ansari was killed in the police firing on 3rd June at Bhajanpur village of Forbesganj block in Araria district. The video footage of his half dead body being tromped by a policeman had shocked the entire nation inviting condemnation of the police and the state government of Nitish Kumar. The commission had sent letter on 6th June regarding the hearing.

On 22nd June, the commission will hear Rafique Ansari whose 8-month-old grandson Sahil Ansari was also killed when police bullet piercing her mother’s hand entered his body. On the third day the commission is scheduled to hear officials of Auro Sundaram Pvt. Ltd. The company was leased several acres of land by the state government to open a starch factory. The company had erected concrete wall blocking the old connecting road between the village and the Forbesganj town, prompting the villagers to protest against the blockade and then the police had opened fire on the villagers.

The Bihar government had constituted the commission in June 2011 itself and given six months to complete probe and submit report. But the commission started work properly only after four and half months when it was given an office. In December 2011 the state government extended the time period of the commission for one year.

The hearing is taking place more than six months after the commission got affidavits, on its call, from the concerned parties and groups.

Chronology of Forbesganj firing case
3rd June 2011: Villagers of Bhajanpur came out to protest the blockade of their old road by an upcoming factory. The police opened fire on the protesters killing four including one infant and a pregnant woman besides two youngsters.

4th June 2011: Chief Minister Nitish Kumar sent two higher officers including home secretary to the village to take stock of the situation. Reportedly they initially tried to hush up the case saying police opened fire in defence but only after a video clip showing a policeman tromping half dead body of an unarmed youngster surfaced they recommended for a judicial probe.

7th June 2011: Bihar cabinet headed by Nitish decided for a judicial probe into the firing. It said the commission will submit report in six months and only then the government will take any action – the government has not suspended any police officer even though the SP was present when the firing took place. The government also did not give any compensation to victim families pending it to the report of the judicial commission.

22nd June 2011: The state government issued formal notification constituting the judicial commission headed by retired justice Madhvendra Sharan with three terms of reference: Circumstances leading to the incident on June 3; sequence of events on June 3; justification of the police firing. On the same day, Wajahat Habibullah, Chairman, National Commission for Minorities visited Forbesganj and talked to the victims.

30th July 2011: The one-man judicial commission visited Forbesganj and talked to firing victims, police officers and officials of Auro Sundaram International Pvt Ltd – the company which usurped the road of the village. The commission told the villagers that it will publish a notification in local dailies within few days and they will send their grievances in affidavit form to the office address given in the notice.

10th October 2011: The Supreme Court of India issued notice to Bihar government on a plea for CBI probe into the firing. Civil rights group Association for Protection of Civil Rights had approached the apex court pleading for a CBI probe as the judicial probe will not bring truth to for. The court gave four weeks time to the state government to reply.

18th October 2011: The Patna High Court ordered Bihar Industrial Area Development Authority (BIADA), a Bihar government body, to reply to allegations of irregularities in land allotments to kins of politicians and bureaucrats. The Forbesganj plots, which usurped the road of the villagers, were among the plots which BIADA allotted allegedly violating rules. The Forbesganj plots were given to Auro Sundaram International Pvt Ltd whose one of the directors is Saurabh Agarwal, son of BJP MLC Ashok Agarwal. The Patna HC bench comprising Justices T Meena Kumari and Vikas Jain directed BIADA to file its reply by January 2012. The bench issued notice hearing PILs that alleged irregularities in land allotment and sought a CBI probe.

24th October 2011: The commission published the notice which it promised on 30th July 2011. The notice has office address of the commission and asked interested people/organizations to send their views on the firing issue in affidavit form by 25th November 2011.

25th November 2011: This was the last date for filing affidavits from the concerned persons and groups.

22nd December 2011: The term period of the commission ended, but there was no word from the government about the extension, leave alone the report.

17th January 2012: The state government announced one year extension for the judicial commission.

21st June 2012: The commission starts hearing in Araria.

Related Link: