The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Lathi rally chase draws blood

Patna, April 28: Rashtriya Janata Dal activists have taken party chief Laloo Prasad Yadav’s call to swing the lathi quite literally.

Armed with rifles, RJD workers today allegedly shot dead one person in Bhojpur’s Sitatola area after a truck driver refused to handover his vehicle. The incident occurred even as the RJD chief assured the administration that there would not be any violence because of the rally.

Complaints have started to pour in of bus, truck and car owners in the city being terrorised into surrendering their vehicles that are then confiscated to ferry RJD party enthusiasts to the April 30 lathi rally.

In today’s incident, Laloo Prasad’s party workers allegedly stopped a truck in Sitatola while it was returning to Satna after off-loading cement in Bihita and tried to seize the vehicle. The driver refused, reasoning that it belonged to Madhya Pradesh. After a brief altercation with the gang of around 12 men, he sped off with the truck. The infuriated RJD workers then reportedly piled on to two cars and gave chase.

They soon caught up with the fleeing truck and four of them aimed rifles at the driver, threatening to blow his head off if he did not apply the brakes. The driver stopped the truck and immediately fled, taking refuge in an autorickshaw. However, his assistant, Ramesh Chandra, who was also scurrying for safety, was shot at from the back. He died on the spot.

The vehicle has been seized and police are on the lookout for the accused, although no one has been arrested so far.

The terror tactics seem to have worked. RJD workers claim to have deployed a huge fleet of bus and trucks for the rally. Participants will gather in Patna by tomorrow afternoon and spend the evening in makeshift camps put up on the premises of the houses of MLAs and ministers.

The RJD says this will be the biggest rally ever in Bihar. The 1991 Mandal Maha Reilla, organised in the wake of the Mandal Commission report, had attracted a crowd of over a lakh. “This time,” said a RJD worker, “the crowd will be larger”.

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