The boy who died was collecting bullet shells, the kind held by a jawan in Dhanbad on Monday, before he was hit.
Picture by Pankaj Singh
CISF headquarters sent Kargali zone DIG Shekhar Sahay to Bokaro steel city on Monday to probe the death of a 12-year-old boy, who succumbed to injuries after being hit a stray bullet during shooting practice by jawans at Jharkhand Armed Police (JAP) grounds on Saturday.
Sahay, who reached the steel town from Bermo around 1.20pm, went to the firing range at Sector XII, inspected the target site near which Tuktuk Shahish, a resident of nearby Hanuman Nagar locality, and four of his friends were reportedly hiding to collect bullet shells during the firing drill.
The visit came a day after three independent investigations — one by Bokaro police, the other by the district administration and the third by CISF’s Kargali commandant Navneet Singh — were launched and an FIR was filed against three CISF officers on the basis of a report submitted by Bokaro DSP Sahdeo Sahu.
The three CISF men — range officer Mahavir Singh, firing point officer N.P. Poria and Butt officer Rakesh Kumar — were present at the site at the time of the incident.
However, Sahay refused to say much when asked about his findings. “The matter is still being probed,” he told The Telegraph.
On the other hand, Bokaro deputy commissioner Uma Shankar Singh served a showcause notice to commandant Singh, whose battalion was practising firing at the JAP grounds, asking him to explain why action should not be taken against the three officers.
“We are doing all we can to give justice to the boy and his family. As you know, an FIR has been lodged against three CISF officers and a showcause notice served on their commandant. This is a very unfortunate incident. The guilty will be definitely punished,” the deputy commissioner said.
Sources in JAP, however, said that they had followed all protocol and guidelines before starting the shooting practice.
“In keeping with rules, sirens were switched on and red flags put up, segregating the entire zone to prevent entry of anyone before starting the practice. Though four JAP men were also posted to guard the area, the five boys had already sneaked into the premises by then and were hiding in the bushes near the target point,” a JAP officer claimed.
He explained that local children were known to use the break in between firing of one shot and the next to come out of hiding and collect the bullet shells, which they sold for Rs 200 a kg in the market.
On Saturday, more than 1,800 rounds of cartridges were fired. As it was raining heavily, one of the bullets hit a rock on the surrounding hill and ricocheted to hit Tuktuk on his head.
Seeing him in a pool of blood, his friends started shouting and escaped. But the CISF took more than 90 minutes to rush the 12-year-old to Bokaro General Hospital, where he succumbed his injuries on Sunday.
“If the bullet had hit the boy directly, his head would have blown off. It must have hit a rock and then rebounded to strike him,” said Vinaytosh Mishra, CISF DIG in Bokaro.
Geographically, the firing range which was set up four decades ago, suited the policemen. A big hill, Satanpur Pahadi, forms the backdrop while there is an open field in the front.
But Mishra pointed out that local villagers were known to enter the area in violation of prohibitory orders.
“During my team’s shooting practice in the range last December, I found several people wandering on the premises. Illegal encroachments must be stopped in the zone,” he advised.