| Equal to all: Nitish Kumar |
Patna July 27: A day after chief minister Nitish Kumar ordered an inquiry into a barbaric assault on a youth allegedly by one of his party workers, the accused Janata Dal (United) leader today surrendered before the Vaishali police on Tuesday.
Shambhu Sharan Rai, husband of a village head, Sangeeta Devi, was later produced in the civil court at Hajipur, which remanded him to judicial custody for 14 days.
Additional director-general (headquarters) P.K. Thakur said Rai, accused of brutally assaulting Rajesh Kumar Mahto at Mansurpur Halaiya village in Vaishali district, surrendered at Katahara police outpost following intensive raids.
“Instructions have been given to the Vaishali superintendent of police to submit chargesheet against Rai at the earliest and put the case on speedy trial,” he said, adding that stern action would be taken against any police personnel found guilty of lapses on their part.
The chief minister had ordered the arrest of Rai, the former Vaishali district JD(U) general secretary, for his involvement in assaulting the youth. He was later expelled from the party.
Besides Rai, the police have identified the three others— Prem Sharma, Harendra Sharma and Munni Lal Sharma — involved in the barbaric act.
“Raids are on to nab the three other accused, whose identity has been ascertained with the help of the video footage,” said Vaishali superintendent of police Sujit Kumar.
Rai, along with the three others, allegedly picked up Rajesh from his house on Sunday night and kept him at an undisclosed place. He was allegedly tortured the whole night on the pretext of making an abortive bid to outrage the modesty of a teenage girl of the same village.
Earlier in the day, Rajesh and his family members were called at the village panchayat to decide the quantum of punishment to be awarded to the youth. As the meeting ended inconclusive, Rajesh was again brought to the panchayat on Monday.
He was hung upside down from a bamboo with his hands and feet tied. Then he was hit with sticks till he fell unconscious. Hundreds of men and women watched the barbaric act silently but no one dared to rescue the 20-year-old youth.
When the alleged perpetrators left the scene of crime, Rajesh’s family admitted him to a Muzaffarpur-based hospital from where he was referred to the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH). The youth is still battling for his life at PMCH.
Rajesh’s father Kailash Mahto later submitted a petition to the Vaishali superintendent of police accusing the village head’s husband Rai and his henchmen of abducting his son from the house and assaulting him mercilessly.
He also said in the complaint that the village head had demanded Rs 10,000 from his son two years ago for allotment of a house under the Indira Awas Yojana.
Mahto claimed that though his son had handed over the money to the village head in the presence of deputy village head, Shakuntala Sharma, the house was never allotted to the family.
Vaishali superintendent of police Sujit Kumar told The Telegraph over telephone that Rajesh’s father had submitted a petition in his office. “Subsequently an FIR was lodged at Katahara police outpost against Rai and others,” he said.
Kumar said a separate case was lodged against the youth (Rajesh) on the basis of the statement of a girl claiming that Rajesh and his associate Ajay Mahato made attempts to outrage her modesty.
Senior police officials, including inspector-general (Muzaffarpur zone) Gupteshwar Pandey and deputy inspector-general Pankaj Darad are camping at the village.
The two officials have been asked by the director-general of police to conduct a thorough inquiry into the incident and submit a detailed report to the state police headquarters.