Chouparan (Hazaribagh), May 19: Penchant of the police for using private vehicles, designed to protect themselves from Naxalites, once again went awry early today when members of the Chouparan force gunned down a 19-year-old college student, mistaking him for a road robber.
Barely two months ago, the police had shot dead a businessman from Uttar Pradesh after following his car into Bihar. The businessman too had failed to identify the police because of the private vehicle they used.
A similar tragedy overtook poor Pintu Singh of Hazaribagh, a Part-II student of the local Ananda College, who had gone to Chouparan, 65 km to the north of Hazaribagh, yesterday to attend the wedding of his maternal uncle. He and his friends were in a hired Maruti van and late in the night decided to visit a hotel on the highway to drink.
While returning, they had an altercation with a bus driver on the issue of overtaking and following an exchange of words, they tried in vain to stop the bus. The bus driver mistook them to be highway robbers and drove straight to the Chouparan police station and furnished the description of the van. This started a sequence of events which eventually led the police to shoot the innocent youth dead.
The police, in a private Bolero jeep, tried to overtake and stop the Maruti van but failed. The chase continued till the driver of the van lost control and dashed against the wall of a roadside hotel, Ashirwad, between Barhi and Chouparan.
The occupants got down from the van and fled to different directions. Pintu himself made the mistake of getting into the hotel. Officer-in-charge Das and constable Manu Yadav followed and even after having cornered a visibly unarmed young man, the constable shot the boy dead. It took the police some time to round up other occupants of the van. It was then that Das claims to have learnt the truth. He then informed his superiors about the incident and sent the body to Hazaribagh for post-mortem.
The post-mortem was carried out in record speed and the body was handed over to Pintuís father Kailash Singh. He had been summoned by the police to ostensibly see his son injured in a road accident. But efforts to cover up the cold-blooded murder failed.
Angry villagers put up roadblocks and brought traffic on the Grand Trunk Road to a standstill this morning. The blockade was lifted only after senior officers visited the spot and the police registered an FIR against two policemen, including the officer-in-charge Radheyshyam Das. Both policemen were also placed under suspension. Deputy inspector-general of police, north Chotanagpur, Neeraj Sinha, also announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the bereaved family.
The killing spree continued in the state with suspected Naxalites gunning down two persons in Latehar last night. The latest raid comes close on the heels of the revenge carnage in Kuru.