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Mob-cop clash over mukhiya murder

Patna/Gaya, May 2: A mob today attacked the district magistrate’s (DM’s) office in Aurangabad and torched three vehicles, prompting police to fire 10 rounds in the air to disperse the agitators.

The mob was protesting against the police’s “callous attitude” in arresting criminals involved in the murder of Sonehatthu mukhiya (village head) Devendra Kumar Singh, alias Chhotu. Criminals had shot dead Singh, while he was returning home from Aurangabad on a motorcycle on March 29.

Later, prohibitory orders were promulgated in Aurangabad town under Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

Trouble started around 12.30pm, when protesters, including Singh’s supporters, sitting on a dharna near the main entrance of the collectorate to demand action against the perpetrators of the crime, pelted stones at a police team.

One of the policemen suffered serious injuries, prompting them to chase the protesters with batons. Around 12 persons were injured in the lathicharge.

Later a police team, led by Sadar deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Sanjay Kumar Singh, arrived to contain the situation. The mob started pelting more stones on the team, causing a serious injury to the DSP’s head. Sadar sub-divisional officer K.D. Prajjwal was among 15 administrative officials and policemen injured in the stone pelting.

The mob tried to storm DM Abhay Kumar’s office. Two government vehicles, including one belonging to a block development officer, Uday Pratap Singh, and an SUV, were torched. An anti-riot vehicle, Vajra, too was vandalised.

Sources said the mob turned violent after the police beat up former legislator Raja Ram Singh. The protesters took out a procession, ransacked shops and business establishments around the collectorate and tried to storm the DM’s office. The policemen, however, scuttled their bid.

Sensing the gravity of the situation, the DM came out of his chamber to pacify the mob. Later, additional forces were rushed to the town from the district police lines and adjoining police stations.

“Anti-riot forces have been deployed in sensitive areas of the town,” said Aurangabad superintendent of police Siddharth Mohan Jain.

The district anti-riot police force staged a flag march in the town to instil confidence among the residents. “People have been cautioned against rumour-mongers and asked not to be swayed by rumours,” he said, adding that additional forces have been called in from adjoining districts.

Sub-divisional officer (Sadar) K.D. Prajjawal issued prohibitory orders banning the assembly of five or more persons at a particular place and display of firearms or lethal weapons.

The SP said the protesters were granted permission to hold a dharna at Ramesh Chowk. Instead, they agitated at the district collectorate and pelted stones. “A complaint has been lodged in connection with the attack and damage to public property,” he added.