| Brutal act
Patna, Oct. 30: The two Bhagalpur policemen who triggered nationwide outcry for tying an alleged thief to a motorcycle and dragging him 500 yards before a cheering crowd have been held not guilty by a human rights panel of the Bihar Legislative Council.
The five-member committee gave the clean chit to the duo — assistant sub-inspector of police L.B. Singh and constable Ramchandra Rai — who had been dismissed from service after television pictures beamed the punishment they handed out to 22-year-old Aurangzeb on August 28. The panel said the policemen were trying to rescue the youth from the mob.
The youth, accused of snatching a chain, was dragged on his stomach and chest along a street in Bhagalpur, a town known for police brutality. TV pictures showed how the crowd had earlier tied the young rickshaw-puller’s hands behind his back and kicked and punched him as he writhed on the ground, soaked in sweat and mud, his trousers unbuttoned.
The two policemen had tied one of Aurangzeb’s feet to their motorbike before assistant sub-inspector Singh rode it to the Nathnagar police station, a short distance from the areas where the police had blinded 30 and odd undertrials with acid in 1981.
Pilloried by rights groups, the government suspended the two officials and then dismissed them.
The Legislative Council panel, however, said the policemen could not be held guilty as they were protecting the youth from mob fury. “The two policemen were not guilty of beating the alleged chain-snatcher,” said legislator Vasudeo Singh, who chaired the committee. “It was the mob which was mercilessly beating the youth. The policemen went there to save his life.”
“The mob had tied Aurangzeb to the motorbike. One of the policemen hurriedly started the bike to save the boy and not to end his life.”
The government steered clear of the panel’s report. “It is a legislative council human rights committee report that we are not yet aware of,” said a home department spokesman. “The government has suspended the two policemen. It has constituted a separate team to probe the matter and the inquiry is still on.”
Legislative Council chairman Arun Kumar confirmed that the House had received the panel’s report. But he refused to comment on the plea that “it can be made public only when the report is tabled on the floor of the House”.
The council’s human rights panel had suo moto decided to probe the incident, Kumar said.