TWO PERSONS were killed and one injured in Barsoi town of Bihar’s Katihar district as police opened fire on a large group of villagers who pelted stones and stormed an electricity department office Wednesday afternoon during a protest against frequent power cuts over the past few days, officials said.
Confirming the incident, senior police officers said the firing was “in self-defence”. More than a dozen police personnel and employees of the electricity department were injured in the stone-pelting incident, they said.
While IGP (Purnia Division) Suresh Prasad Choudhary confirmed one death, Katihar District Magistrate Ravi Prakash confirmed two deaths later in the evening.
“Two of the protesters have died while another is undergoing treatment for injuries at the sub-division hospital,” Choudhary was quoted by PTI-Bhasha as saying.
While Khusheed Alam, 34, a resident of Baasal village, died on the spot, the identity of the second person is yet to be known, officials said.
The incident took place around 12.20 pm, when more than 1,000 people gathered at the electricity department office, housed inside the sub-divisional magistrate office building complex. The crowd comprised people from at least five villages around Barsoi.
A statement from the office of the Additional DGP (Headquarters) said: “About 1,000 local people staged a violent protest in front of the electricity department office. When police reached the spot, the public started stone-pelting at the police…” It said that in a bid to control the situation, the police first conducted a lathicharge and “later, opened limited firing in self-defence”.Advertisement
“We had to open fire in self-defence after the situation went out of control,” IGP Choudhary told The Indian Express.
Katihar SP Jitendra Kumar, who was camping at the site, told reporters, “You can gauge the situation from the fact that there is hardly any portion of the power office left without tell-tale signs of the vandalism and stone-pelting.”
“The protesters suddenly grew violent and stormed the premises. Officials, including the sub-divisional police officer concerned, who has also sustained injuries, were held hostage by the mob. So, in self-defence, gunfire was used. Investigations are on and stern action will be taken against those involved in the attack on policemen,” the SP said.Advertisement
According to officials, Khursheed Alam, a small farmer who died in the firing, was at the forefront of the protest against the power cuts.
Subrat Kumar, a local resident and eyewitness, told The Indian Express: “As against power supply for 18-20 hours per day till four months ago, Barsoi had been getting 8-10 hours power supply for the past few months. The protesters were not convinced with the local administration’s explanation on poor power supply.”Most Read 1 Gadar 2 box office collection day 4: Sunny Deol film records biggest Monday collections of all time, nets a total of Rs 173 cr 2 Bigg Boss OTT 2 Finale Live Updates: Elvish Yadav wins Salman Khan’s show, Abhishek Malhan shares message from hospital 3 Happy Independence Day 2023: Wishes Images, Whatsapp Messages, Status, Quotes, and Photos 4 OMG 2 box office collection day 4: Pankaj Tripathi-Akshay Kumar film delivers better Monday than opening Friday, earns Rs 55.1 cr 5 Jailer box office collection Day 5: Rajinikanth film set to cross Rs 350-crore mark worldwide on Independence Day
Meanwhile, the incident drew sharp criticism from the opposition BJP as well as the CPI(ML)-Liberation, which supports the Nitish Kumar government from outside.
Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai issued a statement alleging that the incident reflected the “barbarism” of the government. He also demanded the resignation of the Chief Minister and Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav.Also ReadNarendra Modi Independence Day Speech Live Updates: India now identified ...Govt SOP for Judges: Do not name officials for court panelsShivaji statue vandalised in Goa, police initiate inquiry‘Will return to Red Fort next year’: In Independence Day speech, PM Modi ...
The CPI(ML)-L, which is a part of the Mahagathbandhan although not a part of the government, accused the BJP of “instigating the crowd” in Katihar. CPI(ML)-L’s legislature party leader Mehboob Alam, who is the MLA of Balrampur where Barsoi is located, also demanded Rs 20 lakh compensation to the next of kin of each deceased and ex-gratia to the injured protester. —WITH PTI© The Indian Express (P) Ltd
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