The police firing at Madanpur in Maoist-hit Aurangabad district on Saturday has left senior officers fuming.
They suspect Maoist hand behind the violence unleashed by local residents during their protest at the block headquarters to vent their ire against alleged police excesses during special operations against the activists of the banned Naxalite outfit in the area.
Chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi said a high-level team had been sent to Aurangabad to inquire under what circumstances the police opened fire. “Action will be taken on the basis of the report,” he told reporters in Patna.
Inspector-general (Patna zone) Kundan Krishnan, who rushed to Aurangabad to take stock of the situation, said Saturday’s protest was orchestrated by the rebels, who were finding it difficult to stay for a longer period in the villages considered to be their influential pockets due to intensive police operations. “Even their supply line was snapped, making their survival difficult in certain pockets,” he added.
Krishnan said squad members of the outfit intermingled in the crowd, which had assembled at the block headquarters and instigated the mob. “Even some of the members of the organisation were carrying small-sized sharp weapons with them and were also equipped with bombs,” he said.
Eyewitnesses confirmed that at least three bombs were hurled and shots were fired in the air by the protesters, which provoked the men in uniform to open fire. “The Maoists used the local residents, especially women and children, as their shield to accomplish their task,” said Madanpur police station house officer S.A. Ansari.
Deputy inspector-general (Magadh range) P.K. Srivastava also hinted at the involvement of the rebels in the protest, which led to police firing on Saturday in which a middle-aged woman and a boy were killed and five others were injured.
Aurangabad superintendent of police Upendra Kumar Sharma has sounded an alert in the areas falling under Madanpur, Kasma, Salaiya, Kutumba and Tandwa police stations. District collector (land reforms) Dhananjay Kumar also described it as a fallout of Maoist plan to hamper the ongoing operations.
An FIR was lodged against 1,000 unidentified people on the statement of SHO Ansari under section 17 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and section 27 of the Arms Act. Acting swiftly, the police picked up 16 people, including Lalbabu Paswan, the husband of Urmila Devi, mukhiya, Nima Anjan panchayat.
Ansari said the rebels had planned to take away sophisticated weapons from the personnel after attacking the Madanpur police station.