Saturday was black. Sympathisers of deceased Ranvir Sena chief Brahmeshwar Singh “Mukhiya” ransacked the state capital.
Recalling the incident on Sunday was no better an experience for Patnaites. Fear was writ large on their faces a day after.
From business captains to social workers and from rights activists to homemakers, all were shocked and awed. Every section of the society was vocal in condemning the incident. A few questioned the seriousness of the state government and police in maintaining law and order.
After playing the role of mute spectator on Saturday, the police lodged FIR against 17 named accused and around 500 unknown persons for resorting to vandalism. Police have also identified 40 motorbikes which were used by these miscreants during the course of creating trouble on Patna roads.
Gandhian and secretary of Gandhi Sangrahalaya in Patna Razi Ahmad said: “The Saturday’s incident left a very bad impression of the state government. I don’t know what stopped the state government and the police administration from taking any strong action against the hooligans who ransacked the city for more than four hours, attacked common people and damaged public property.”
Any government should have a holistic approach and there should be no space for community consideration, said Ahmad. The Saturday’s incident has opened the gates for any community or groups to undertake violent protest to showcase their strength.
The eminent Gandhian, who saw and participated in several freedom struggles, including Quit India Movement and Sampoorna Kranti (Total Revolution), said: “When JP was at the centre stage of national politics in 1974 and organised a rally at Gandhi Maidan, lakhs of people had assembled. But even then his supporters refrained from attacking public property or disturbing citizens.”
Arvind Kumar, the chairman of Jan Chowkidar (People's Watch), an organisation fighting for the cause of people, was even more vocal. He demanded ouster of director-general of police Abhayanand and departmental prosecution for utter mismanagement of law and order in Patna on Saturday.
Kumar said the funeral procession of such a highly controversial person should not have been allowed to go beyond Ara. Whatever support Singh may have, it cannot be denied that he had several criminal cases against him and he reportedly headed a gang against which there were serious criminal charges, said Kumar.
Bihar Industries Association president KPS Keshri also said there were administrative lapses on the part of the police administration and there should have been a proper mechanism to handle the mob.
Keshri said: “We cannot say the incident was the outcome of complete law and order failure, but if such incidents continue they will have bigger ramifications.”
Patna University proctor and senior teacher Kriteshwar Prasad said there was complete failure on the part of the administration in controlling the mob. He said: “If few thousands of people can ransack the city for more than four hours and the police remain a mute spectator, no one is safe in this city.”
The residents of Punaichak, the area that witnessed large-scale violence, claimed that had the police dealt with Ranvir Sena supporters strongly, the mob would have thought thousand times to create any trouble in the city.
Sanjay Yadav, a resident of Punaichak, said: “The state was put on a high-alert after the murder of Singh but the violence continued. The state government’s biggest fault was allowing Singh’s funeral procession to enter Patna.”
Yadav said the police should have analysed the mood of the crowd as it not only destroyed public property but also misbehaved with Bihar BJP president C.P. Thakur and a few other BJP MLAs who went to Bihta to pay floral tributes to Singh and participated in the funeral procession.
The Saturday’s incident was a tight slap on the face of Bihar police, a traffic constable posted at the chief minister’s residence at 1 Aney Marg said. He said: “We have seen IPS officers being attacked or killed by Naxalites but for the first time a DGP was manhandled by a mob in Ara.”
DGP Abhayanand, however, defended his force and said: “The police did their best what they could have done in that situation. Using power could have aggravated the situation and its ramifications would have been felt for days.”