The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Stray dogs bite into ‘cremated’ bodies

Patna, Sept. 16: In death, they lost the right to live; after death, they lost the right for having last rites.

While villagers in Dhelphodwa took law in their hands to beat 10 thieves of a nomad community to death on Thursday, stray dogs today were up for feast on at least two of the bodies “cremated” at Konhara ghat on Friday.

In his report filed on Friday, Vaishali district welfare officer J.K. Mathur, who was also the magistrate in charge of the incident, said that all the 10 bodies were “cremated” after post-mortem.

This morning had a telltale evidence that something was wrong in the process when local people went to the ghat — on the confluence of the Ganga and Gandak — to take bath. “About six dogs were feeding on the two bodies swept ashore. Another seven bodies were also floating,” said Surendra Tiwary, the pundit at the ghat who takes care of the funeral process of bodies.

“The magistrate and accompanying policemen did not cremate the bodies despite my repeated plea on Friday. They somehow took a young boy, possibly a relative of a deceased accompanying the bodies, into confidence and just threw the bodies in the river,” Tiwary added.

Local people suspected that the officials might have disposed of the bodies without cremating them in order to “save money on firewood” required for cremation.

The government had assigned Mathur to carry out the cremation at state expenses.

Acting fast, the government suspended Mathur, along with the officers in charge of Rajapakar and Hajipur police stations, Vibha Kumari and R.K. Singh, besides replacing the district magistrate and superintendent of police.

Principal home secretary Afzal Amanullah told The Telegraph: “Seven of the 10 bodies have been fished out. Efforts are on to find out the remaining three bodies, too.”

He said the government had also replaced the district magistrate and superintendent of police, Lallan Singh and Anupama Nilekar, by Preeti Verma and Paras Nath, respectively.

What has shocked the people and even a large number of senior officials more is the “insensitivity” on the part of the Vaishali district administration officials. “It is simply a shameful act. They did it despite a CID team camping at the site to investigate the lynch. They must be punished,” said P.K. Sinha, the Samata Party president and a former administrative official.

Earlier, chief minister Nitish Kumar summoned chief secretary A.K. Choudhary, director-general of police A.R. Sinha and Amannulah asking them to take “swift” action against the officials concerned.

Hundreds of people surrounded 11 youths suspected to be “thieves” belonging to a poor nomad community of Tajpur in neighbouring Samastipur district in Dhelphodwa village, about 40km from here, and lynched 10 of them in the early hours on Thursday.

It was the fifth incident of the mob providing “instant justice” to suspected thieves in a fortnight in the state.

Meanwhile, the police arrested three persons and forwarded them to judicial custody in connection with the incident in which the mob had battered three motorcycle thieves and gouged out an eye of one of them in Nawada.

At a high level meeting with home department officials and the police yesterday, Nitish reportedly issued an ultimatum to the police to control the deteriorating law and order situation in the state.

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