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Village rage at Samresh

Bokaro, Feb. 18: Samresh Singh today got a taste of people power when hundreds of villagers beat him up for trying to name a temple after another hamlet.

The former minister, who cannot seem to escape controversies, was rescued by his bodyguard who threatened to open fire on the mob. A scooterist helped him make a dash to safety as his Bolero was smashed by the people.

The people of Narainpur and Siyardah, located around 40 km from here, have been fighting a case for several years over who gets control of a Shiva temple that stands on a strip of land between the two hamlets. Yesterday, subdivisional officer of Chas Raj Mohan Tewary had clamped prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC and told the people of the two villages to form a committee which will find ways of ending the impasse.

Around 10 this morning, Singh, accompanied by the villagers of Narainpur, reached the temple site and ordered them to put up a name plate inscribed Jaurababa Budhababa Shivdham, Shiv Mandir-Narainpur.

Temple priest Sachdanand Tewary opposed the move and appealed to the former minister not to act in haste. Eyewitnesses said Singh and the Narainpur villagers abused the priest and roughed him up. The priest’s wife, who tried to intervene, too, was not spared.

This enraged the people of Siyardah, who had in the meantime rushed to the temple. They started pelting stones and pounced on Singh. “He was pulled by the kurta, thrown to the ground and beaten up. His Bolero was attacked,” said Ashok Kumar, who witnessed the flare-up. City magistrate Ram Vinay Sharma and a chowkidar, Phool Chand Bowry, were assaulted when they tried to calm the people.

Fearing for the safety of his boss, the former minister’s bodyguard whipped out his pistol and threatened to shoot anyone who tried to come close. Singh escaped through the mud path and went to Telidih, where a scooterist came to his help.

The pitched battle between the two groups of villagers continued for around an hour. Police reached the spot around 11.30 am and had to fire nine rounds in the air to quell the violence. Nine villagers were injured in the clash and admitted to the local hospital. The condition of the magistrate is said to be critical.

Chas subdivisional officer Tewary said an FIR would be lodged against the former minister for instigating the people. “The court had yesterday told both parties not to put up a name plate till a solution, agreeable to all, is found. But Samresh Singh took the law in his hands, disturbing peace in the area. I have ordered an FIR to be filed against the former minister and have seized his car,” he said.

Deputy superintendent of police Anuranjan Kispotta said he would see to it that all persons named in the FIR, including Singh, are arrested.

The former minister could not be contacted but his son Manna said his father’s opponents working for the BJP were trying to tarnish his image.

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