A man displayed kindness and exemplary courage on Wednesday to protect the mother of his son’s alleged killer from being lynched by a mob.
The body of 11-year-old Rishikesh was found in a well at Masauri, about 25km from Patna, around 3am on Wednesday. He had been missing since April 30. His father, Vimal Kumar, however, did not forget his kindness or the law in his grief, as he tried to protect Usha Devi, the mother of his son’s alleged murderer, Vijay, alias Bittu.
Rishikesh Kumar, alias Rishabh, was a student of Class IV at Mount Bathenic Public School, located at D Sector of Kankerbagh. Vijay, a middle-aged history-sheeter, has been arrested for the murder. Vimal Kumar is a contractor by profession and stays with his family in their two-storied house at East Indra Nagar, a middle-class locality at Kankerbagh.
As news of Rishikesh’s death spread on Wednesday, a mob — comprising mostly women — gathered at Bittu’s house, just a stone’s throw away from Vimal’s residence, around 11am. They dragged out Usha by her hair and started to rain blows and slaps on her. Others tried to strip her. But Vimal did not want mob justice. Instead of surrendering to the instinct of vengeance, he tried to stop Usha’s malefactors.
He pleaded to them: “We all know that she is involved and knew that her son had abducted and killed my boy. But I want justice. Don’t beat her up like this. I want her and her son to be imprisoned for their whole life.”
But as soon as the grieving father returned to his two-storeyed home to take care of his wife who had fainted, the mob resumed its violent acts. The women continued to assault Usha though they made sure that no one used bricks or sticks.
“Let us take her to the police station,” one woman said. Vimal, who was in a state of shock, agreed to the plan.
The mob continued to assault her as they dragged her towards Kankerbagh police station.
Police were nowhere to be seen though. “I have been calling up the police, including the SHO (station house officer) of the Kankerbagh police station, the city superintendent of police and the senior superintendent of police, for nearly half-an-hour. I want the cops to come here immediately and arrest this woman. But none of the officers are picking up their phones,” said Vimal.
The ruckus on the road continued for around 15 minutes before Rishikesh’s body — which had been sent to Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) for post-mortem — arrived at his home. Vimal ran back followed by the mob, which held Usha.
As they neared the house, two men — both relatives of Vimal who had brought the body from PMCH — pounced on Usha and began to beat her up. The woman fell down and tried to save herself but the men would not stop.
Vimal rushed in again to rescue her and prevented his relatives from assaulting Usha. “I want her to be arrested. We shall not take the law in our hands. Don’t beat her up. Just don’t let her escape,” he said.
The beating stopped but the curses did not. Usha was locked up in the ambulance, which had brought Rishikesh’s body. Some neighbours stood guard.
Safe from the anger of the crowd for the first time in the day, Usha started to plead innocence. “I have not done anything,” she cried.
The police were still missing action. When they did not turn up till 1.30pm, the family decided to take Rishikesh’s body for cremation.
As the ambulance with the body started to move, two police vehicles arrived in the area. The mob now turned on the police and attacked the vehicles with stones and sticks. Two policemen were also allegedly beaten up and the cops beat a hasty retreat.
Rishikesh’s family and neighbours had no patience left. They blocked Patna Bypass and demanded Usha’s arrest.
“We kept calling the cops for more than an hour but they did responded. Unless this woman (Usha) is arrested, the blockade will not be lifted,” one of the protesters said.
The police returned with a larger force at 3pm and took Usha into their custody. The crowd then lifted the blockade.
A policeman told The Telegraph: “She has been taken into protective custody. It has not been ascertained if she was involved in the crime.”
Police also claimed that her son, Bittu, has confessed to the crime.