Islampur, Oct. 31: Three persons were crushed to death by a speeding truck on NH 31 near the bus-stand in Kishanganj, Bihar, this morning. The incident triggered a clash between residents of the area and the men in khaki.
As the mob attacked the police with stones and lathis, the latter retaliated by firing in the air to disperse the crowd.
Around 10 am, the driver of the killer truck — bound for Siliguri from Raiganj in North Dinajpur — lost control and dashed against a paan shop near the bus stand, killing two persons on the spot. The third person was taken to Kishanganj Medical College, where he died, police said.
All the three victims — Menon Kumar Mali (40) from Katihar, Manohar Paswan (35), also from Katihar, and Satyaram Hansda (35) from Ranchi — were employees of the BSNL’s office in Kishanganj. Police said three more persons, including the driver of the truck, were injured in the incident. The driver of the truck has been arrested and the truck seized.
According to a BSNL official, the three were headed for office and had stopped at the paan shop on the way. While Paswan was a lineman, the two others were clerks.
Following the crash, residents of the area blocked the highway. After about an hour, when the police came to disperse the crowd, an altercation ensued between the two groups, a source said.
The argument soon turned into a fight and the crowd reportedly started stone-pelting at the policemen. The police first tried to chase them away with lathis, but that apparently hardly helped the situation. With the residents not listening to the men in khaki, the intensity of pelting stones increased, which forced the police to fire 15 rounds in the air, the source said. No policeman was reportedly hurt in the violence.
Samir Sharma, who was hurt in the lathicharge, said: “The police started beating us up without any provocation. The situation was not so bad that they had to open fire.”
The incident prompted the district magistrate of Kishanganj, Dayanand Prasad, and police superintendent Sunil Kumar Singh, to go to the spot. It was after their intervention that the residents withdrew the roadblock.
“We are going to start an inquiry as to why the police had to use lathis and then fire in the air,” Prasad said.
Singh, however, denied that the crowd was beaten up. “The police fired four rounds in the air to bring the situation under control. The bodies of the victims have been sent for post-mortem,” Singh said.