| Protesters set a vehicle on fire and (right) the ransacked house of retired sub-inspector Krishna Nandan Rai in Motihari on Sunday. Pictures by Ajit Kumar Verma |
A group of villagers went on the rampage after the body of a youth, Birendra Kumar alias Nanhki Sah (20), was found by the roadside in Mathia village on Sunday.
The mob ransacked the residences of retired sub-inspector Krishna Nandan Rai and retired armyman Sayed Sabir Hussain. Sources said the villagers suspected the involvement of the two retired officials in Birendra’s murder.
The protesters damaged doors, windows, household goods and a vehicle of the retired cop. Two sons of Rai were injured in the attack. According to Rai’s wife Dulari Devi, a group of people barged into their house around 4am, damaged household goods and took away gold jewellery and cash. The family claimed to have suffered damage worth Rs 25 lakh.
The mob set ablaze three motorcycles of passers-by, damaged a police bus and a riot control vehicle. Later, it attacked the house of Rai’s neighbour Hussain, set a part of the premises on fire and injured his daughter Nadia Kazmi.
Sources said Birendra had a bitter equation with the two government officials. According to a few residents of the area, some people used the vacant land of Rai to relieve themselves. The retired cop objected to this practice, which often led to altercations between Birendra and Rai’s family. Birendra used to abuse both Rai and Hussain, who backed the retired cop during such quarrels.
Soon after Birendra’s body was recovered around 3am on Sunday, the law and order in the area went out of control. Police used teargas shells and fired seven rounds in the air to disperse the protesting villagers. Nine people were taken into custody.
Birendra’s sister Geeta Devi alleged that Rai and Hussain lynched her brother. She said Birendra had gone to relieve himself in the nearby field late Saturday night and did not return. Later, his body was found in a pool of blood on the road.
Refuting her claim, East Champaran district magistrate Abhijit Sinha said: “No signs of injury were found on the deceased’s body. However, the cause of death would be ascertained only after the autopsy report is prepared.”
Sadar deputy superintendent of police Sushant Kumar Saroj suffered burn injury in his arm while trying to control the crowd.
An assistant sub-inspector and five constables were also injured in the conflict. “The police are still camping at the site. Those guilty will be boo-ked soon. The situation will be brought under control,” assured the district magistrate.