Press Statement by Committee for Justice to Forbesganj Police Firing Victims
On June 3, 2011, while the politicians, ‘sections of the civil society and media persons were busy entertaining the ‘Satyagraha’ of Baba Ramdev against corruption and withdrawal of black money from foreign countries, 5 people were brutally killed in a police firing in Forbesganj of Bihar, which largely went unreported. The incident came to light only three days later, when gruesome video and pictures of the firing were uploaded on a newsportal called TwoCircles.net (TCN).
According to TCN, on June 3, 2011, residents of Rampur and Bhajanpur villages under Forbesganj block in Araria district came out, after Juma Prayer, to protest against blockade of the connecting road between the two villages for a factory. The police not only opened fire on the protesters but chased them and entered their homes, killing among others a women and infant point-blank. Six people including two women and a six-month-old infant of the two villages of 90% Muslim population were killed. Later, on 8th of June, a fact-finding team of ANHAD visited the area, which also confirmed the killings.
The report by the team said, “The police opened fire on the protesters and chased them to their homes. According to many eye witnesses present on the scene the order to fire was given by the SP Garima Mallik. SDO, Ashok Agarwal, MLC, BJP, Saurabh Agarwal, Ashok Agarwal’s son and Managing Director of the Auro Sundram International Company were present on the scene when firing was ordered”. The fact finding team was informed by several villagers that on May 29, 2011 Sushil Modi, Deputy CM and BJP, MLA had come to Forbesganj and had pressurized the administration to take immediate action regarding the village road and block it. Ashok Aggarwal was heard saying, “inko pinjre main band kar denge. Jail banadenge salon ke gaon ko.”Many eye witnesses told the team that apart from the police, Ashok Agarwal himself fired at people.
But the government of Bihar is still in the mode of denial and not ready to punish the culprits. After much pressure from opposition and members of the Muslim community, the government though announced a probe in to the firing on 7th of June but is yet to declare who will head the probe. One fears that these delay tactics by the government might lead to the hiding or destruction of crucial evidences in the case by the culprits. Meanwhile, the government in a selective decision announced an ex-gratia amount of Rs. 3 lakh to the father of the 10-month baby boy Naushad who died in the firing. The government has made it clear that the decision of compensation to the other deceased will be taken on the basis of the report of judicial probe which is not expected to be out before six months. One wonders how the government has decided on this amount as even the proposed Communal and Targeted Violence Bill suggests a compensation amount of at-least Rs. 10 lakhs. In addition, on 11th June, the Chief Minister has ordered the removal of Forbesganj sub-divisional police officer R K Sharma for “dereliction” of duty before leaving for Delhi, en route to China.
The brutal violence and the casual approach of the government tell us how little things have changed in Bihar despite high promises to the contrary. The poor and the marginalized are at the mercy of killers in uniform.
We reiterate our demand:
1. Time-bound Judicial probe into the entire incident by a sitting judge of the High Court.
2. Immediate suspension of all the police personnel involved in the case and registration of an FIR against them under section 307 of Indian Penal Code and,
3. Compensation of at least Rs. 10 lakhs as proposed in the Communal and Targeted Violence Bill to each family along with government service to one of the dependents.
Dharna at Bihar Bhawan, New Delhi against Police Firing in Forbesganj, Bihar
11:00 AM, 13thJune 2011 (MONDAY)
5, Kautilya Marg, Near Ashoka Hotel, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi
Mahtab Alam (9811209345) and Afroz Alam Sahil (9891322178)
On behalf of Committee for Justice to Forbesganj Police Firing Victims