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Fingers chopped off after row

Patna, June 13: Bihar’s lynch-mob mentality was on display in full force when a group of anti-socials chopped off the fingers of a 20-year-old youth and poured acid into his eyes at a village in Sitamarhi following an altercation over parking last night.

The young man, Vikas Kumar Yadav, is battling for life at the Samastipur Sadar hospital. Those who carried out the barbaric crime, seven according to the police complaint filed Vikas’s family, are roaming around in the open.

Vikas assists his father Shiv Sagar Yadav in the family’s farm equipment business in Samastipur, 110km northeast of Patna.

Police said Vikas got into an altercation with four persons after his two-wheeler broke down around 8.30 in the evening on Thursday at Banbhora village. He parked the vehicle near the house of one Bhushan Yadav — later named prime accused — and attempted to repair it. The parking of the vehicle led to a verbal duel between Vikas and Bhushan, who was aided by his friends.

Bhushan and his accomplices, six in all, first thrashed Vikas. That didn’t satisfy them. They got a sharp-edged weapon, pinned Vikas down and proceeded to chop off all 10 fingers of his hands. They poured acid into his eyes to ensure he can’t identify them.

Vikas’s father, Shiv Sagar Yadav, rushed to the spot on hearing of the assault and got his son admitted to Hasanpur primary health centre from where he was later referred to the Sadar hospital at Samastipur.

Shiv Sagar accused the police of being hand-in-glove with the accused as they were “influential persons” and also had “political backing”. “Bhushan is a contractor and owns a number of excavator machines that have been rented out to government agencies engaged in construction and repair of roads and bridges in the area,” Shiv Sagar told The Telegraph by phone from Samastipur.

The station house officer of Bithan police station, under whose jurisdiction the site of occurrence of the barbaric act falls, said raids have been launched to arrest the accused. The victim’s statement has already been recorded and seven persons have been named as accused. “All the accused are absconding after the incident,” said SHO Manoj Kumar Singh.

A doctor attending on the young man said his eyes had been badly damaged by the acid. “His condition is critical. We are trying hard to provide him the best treatment available here,” the doctor said.

The complaint states that Vikas is a resident of Sanichara village. The SHO clarified that Sanichara and Banbhora were nearby villages. “The two villages are dominated by the Yadavs. The enmity between the families of Bhushan and Shiv Sagar is no secret. Both are in the same business. Business rivalry behind the incident can’t be ruled out,” he added, and acknowledged that Bhushan had criminal antecedents.

Vikas’s family has now sought the help of Samastipur superintendent of police Chandrika Prasad to book the accused at the earliest.

Bihar is notorious for its lynch-mob mentality with people taking the law into their hands at the slightest provocation. Noted sociologist Hetukar Jha said: “Such incidents demonstrate people’s deep anger and frustration against the state machinery. The perpetrators of crime do realise their mistake and regret for the offence thereafter. The state should take initiatives to redress the grievances of the masses to reduce such (mis)happenings in the society.”

Jha added that such incidents were common in a feudalistic society like Bihar. The authorities concerned should change their attitude to resolve the problems faced by the common masses, especially in rural areas, he added. “Such incidents would continue to occur until the political leadership or the government machinery takes steps to fill the gap between the haves and have-nots,” Jha said.

On Friday evening, a youth in rural Patna got a taste of this lynch-mob mentality when he was tied to a pillar of a building and severely thrashed for allegedly having an affair with a married woman.