The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Heads roll for train attacks

Patna, Nov. 15: The state government today removed the district magistrate and the superintendent of police of Munger in a belated damage-control exercise after a series of shocking attacks, mainly at stations in the district, on trains originating from the Northeast.

“The district magistrate of Munger, Gautam Goswami, and the superintendent of police, M.R. Naik, have been shifted out of Munger. The police are probing the incidents of attack and allegations of molestation on women. We would not hesitate to take stern action against whoever is responsible for the attacks,” said chief minister Rabri Devi after a high level meeting.

The chief minister and Laloo Prasad Yadav, the ruling Rashtriya Janata Dal chief, maintained there hadn’t been any incident of rape, but promised police would investigate any such allegation. The police have filed a case against 500 unknown accused.

The Bihar government seems to have been prodded into action by a series of calls from Assam and Mizoram, which said the entire Northeast was tense over the attacks, especially on women.

“Unless the Bihar government takes concrete actions against the culprits, it would be difficult to provide protection to hundreds of Biharis living in the region as ultra groups like Ulfa have issued an ultimatum to the Hindi-speaking people to quit Assam,” Tarun Gogoi, the chief minister of Assam, is believed to have told the Bihar government.

Mizoram chief minister Lalthanhawla is also said to have called up Rabri Devi to express his anguish and the anger of his people over the sexual abuse of passengers from his state.

Police began investigations into the train attacks that started early this week after a 25-year-old Mizo woman gave a statement in Patna that she was molested on Wednesday on the Guwahati-Dadar Express.

On the afternoon of November 12, hundreds of anti-socials masquerading as students pounced on the passengers of the train and looted their belongings. Women were molested in full view of the passengers.

The complainant, who was treated at Patna Medical College after she got down here, told The Telegraph on Thursday that after she resisted a rape bid, she was stripped and molested on the train by hoodlums.

As a flurry of phone calls over police inaction poured in, Rabri Devi called a high level meeting this morning — attended, among others, by Laloo Prasad, chief secretary K.A.H. Subramaniam, home secretary B.K. Halder and director-general of police D.P. Ojha — at her residence.

On learning that the looting and molestation continued for over five hours as a skeletal force struggled to bring the situation under control, the chief minister and Laloo Prasad questioned the district administration’s lack of preparedness though similar raids had begun at Katihar and Bhagalpur a day before.

The administration apparently pleaded that they failed to react as the attacks on trains came under the jurisdiction of the RPF and GRP. The ground cited to justify inaction is unforgivable, the chief minister is believed to have told the director-general of police.

After the meeting, Laloo Prasad said residents of the seven states in the Northeast are “my brothers and sisters. The attack on them is unpardonable. My government has initiated a process to take stern action against who were involved in fanning tension and perpetrating attacks”.

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