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Blinding then, bike now
Aurangzeb being tied to a cop’s motorbike
The cop starts the bike
Aurangzeb being dragged on the road

Aug. 28: An alleged thief was tied to a police motorcycle and dragged 500 yards before a cheering crowd yesterday in a Bihar district that has been a byword for police cruelty.

Aurangzeb, 22, cried in pain and pleaded for mercy but the mob kicked him repeatedly as the shirtless man was dragged on his stomach and chest along a street in Nathnagar, a town in Bhagalpur district.

TV pictures showed how the crowd had earlier tied the young rickshaw-puller’s hands behind his back and kicked and punched him as he writhed on the ground, soaked in sweat and mud, his trousers unbuttoned.

Aurangzeb was waiting for customers before a temple in the afternoon when a woman accused him of having snatched her gold chain. The chain was allegedly found on Aurangzeb.

The young man lay in the Bhagalpur jail hospital today — with no clear word on his condition — a short distance from the areas where the police had blinded 30-odd undertrials with acid in 1981.

The infamous “Bhagalpur blindings” had found some popular support but this evening, in the communally sensitive town, an armed crowd of 2,000 had gathered near the Nathnagar police station.

“The situation is charged,” said the deputy inspector-general of police (Bhagalpur range), Girijanandan Sharma, blaming the tensions on “rumours” of Aurangzeb’s death.

Earlier, as news channels beamed yesterday’s incident, the state administration suspended assistant sub-inspector Ram Balak Singh and constable Ramchandar Rai and ordered an inquiry.

The two policemen had tied one of Aurangzeb’s feet to their motorbike before Singh rode it to the police station. The young man, his body covered in cuts and bruises, was put on a cart and taken to a hospital and then to jail.

“He is an orphan and I brought him up. I fear they (the police) will kill him,” said a sobbing Bibi Sabra, Aurangzeb’s grandmother. His sister Anjuman, 14, said Aurangzeb was the family’s breadwinner.

Bhagalpur police had stormed a court in 1988 and thrashed a judge and lawyers. In Bhojpur, the police have been accused of beating three people to death on the charge of stealing buffaloes.

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