A mob, gathered to protest an elderly man’s death in police firing in Jharkhand’s Khunti district a day before, resorted to vanadalism damaging the houses of Deputy Commissioner, Superintendent of Police and Sub-Divisional Magistrate in the main town on Sunday. The police said that they also torched and damaged a few hoardings. While the police claimed that the mob has been dispersed, the vigil has been upped. According to the police, the protesters had blocked most of the roads to and from Khunti right since the morning. They also began gathering at the main town since noon.
The protesters were expected to return by evening. However, on their way back, they began targeting the houses of the DC, SP and the SDM, damaging anything and everything that came their way. “Some of the hoardings were also torched. The police used mild force to disperse the mob,” said Additional SP (Operations) Anurag Raj.
The officer added that there are a couple of villages behind the residences of the DC and the SP. “When there were reports that people were closing in on the officials houses, we thought that they would reach their villages peacefully. But, they suddenly turned restive and resorted to vandalism,” said Raj.
Raj was the first official, who was surrounded and tied up by the protesters in Seko village under Murhu police station area on Saturday. The mob had overpowered some other officials too and was assaulting them, when the police opened fire in self-defence leading to the death of Abraham Munda, in his 50s.
Recalling the ordeal that lasted over two-and-a-half hours, Raj said, “I was returning from operational duties when I spotted a bus stuck on the road. My vehicle too got stuck. I tried to inquire as to what the issue was all about. The protesters claimed that they are not being allowed to go to the rally (in Morabadi, Ranchi) and, hence, I too wouldn’t be allowed. The mob, without leader, swelled very fast. I tried to talk to them, but there were not ready to listen.”
The DSP (Headquarters) too felt that he could talk his way out. But he was attacked. They captured his bodyguard too. “Already, we had begun hearing the crowd saying inka sendra kar do (do a Sendra killing animals after surrounding them on all sides — on them). After tying us up with ropes, they separated three of us. And, then began hitting us all on the head. In the meantime, we heard firing sound from the villagers. It was then that the police resorted to firing, following which the mob dispersed,” said Raj. Later, Abraham Munda was found dead and a few others were injured.
Raj claimed that Munda and another injured youngster, identified later as Chamra Munda, were in the forefront of the assault on the police team. I can identify them. An FIR has been registered and some of these people have been named, he said.
Jharkhand Director General of Police D K Pandey said that the police have the video and photographs of the incident. “The possibility of people having links with Maoists is very much there. But, we will have to wait for the full inquiry,” he said.
Opposition leader Hemant Soren criticised government saying that people were very angry with the government. “It is to be seen whether the government’s bullets are more powerful or the people’s anger,” he said.
Chief Minister Raghubar Das, speaking at a traffic police event early on Sunday, blamed the opposition leaders for getting people killed to serve their vested interests. He added that there was nobody above law and none would be spared.