Policemen fire shots in the air to pay tribute to Khudiram Bose at Company Bagh in Muzaffarpur on Sunday. Picture by Gopi Raman
Patna, Aug. 11: In what seems to be an act of revenge, five out of seven British-made rifles refused to fire during a guard of honour for Khudiram Bose, a revolutionary who had hurled bombs on the colonisers in 1908.
A function in Muzaffarpur on Sunday to pay tribute to one of the youngest revolutionaries in India got mired in a controversy after five bullets from .303 rifles misfired. The .303 rifles were manufactured by Lee-Enfield, a British company. The firearms were used during World War II.
The shots were fired in the air as mark of respect to the martyr from Bengal at his memorial site in Muzaffapur’s Company Bagh locality.
A host of senior administrative and police officers, including Tirhut divisional commissioner K.P. Ramaiah, deputy inspector-general of police Amrit Raj, senior superintendent of police Saurabh Kumar and district magistrate Anupam Kumar, were taken aback when the rifles fell silent and the bullets misfired one after the other.
The function started at 8am with dignitaries offering flowers to the bust of the martyr installed at a place adjacent to the collectorate, which houses the offices of senior administrators of the district. Thereafter, the policemen were signalled to accord guard of honour by opening seven rounds of fire in the air. However, only two could be fired.
Most of the officers, who took part in the function organised by the district administration, tried to evade questions from reporters regarding the gaffe.
Muzaffarpur SSP Saurabh Kumar, however, said a showcause notice has been issued on sergeant major of police lines B.K. Mishra, asking him to explain within 24 hours, under what circumstances the rifles misfired, causing discomfiture to the dignitaries.
SSP Kumar said a committee has been set up to inquire into the matter and submit a detailed report. “After all, it was an official function and the firearms should have been cleaned properly by the policemen assigned with the task,” he told The Telegraph over phone. Kumar added that action would be taken against the erring cops on the basis of the report, which is awaited.
On the contrary, Sergeant Major Mishra has no qualms in admitting that the guns, used on the occasion, date back to the British era and the bullets that were supplied to the district police were at least three decades old.
“While guns of the British regime are being used by policemen across the state, the bullets are at least 28 years old,” he added.
Mishra, however, hastened to add that he was not blaming any officer of the department for the humiliation.
“This is a fact and even our seniors will not disagree with me,” he said, adding that the state police headquarters has been trying hard to equip the force with latest firearms in recent years.
A seven-member delegation from Bihar Bengal Committee also attended the function. The committee members comprising Amlal Kumar Dey, Nirupam, Kantipal, Ganesh Roy, Chandan Sinha, Uttam Devnath, Bobby Devnath and Udit Nath, (all from Bhagalpur), also visited Khudiram Bose Central Jail, where a function was organised on the occasion.
The delegation visited the room where young Bose was hanged to death on August 11, 1908. “Though we were invited earlier too, we got the opportunity to take part in the function this time,” said a member of the committee.
Jail superintendent Jitendra Kumar said the room is opened for the public only on the occasion of martyrdom of the young freedom fighter from Bengal, who hurled bombs on a cart carrying two British women nationals at Company Bagh on April 30, 1908. The women had died in the explosion.