Sanaullah being taken away in a police van after his arrest in Hazaribagh on Friday. Picture by Vishvendu Jaipuriar
Son of a retired magistrate of Hazaribagh opened fire from his double-barrel rifle in a densely populated mohalla, 8km from town and named after his father, injuring five and triggering mob fury that left vehicles and two houses, including his own, damaged on Friday morning.
Sanaullah (42), who runs a dairy business, has been arrested and his licensed weapon confiscated. Ten others have been detained for interrogation.
Trouble began at Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad Colony — popularly known as Bari Colony after Sanaullah’s father Abdul Bari, one of first settlers — around 10am when youths from another mohalla, who are apparently infamous for eve teasing, were seen there.
According to eyewitnesses, Sanaullah and others beat up Mohammad Meku (17) for breaching their mohalla border despite having been warned not to do so. To avenge the humiliation, Meku’s brother, Mohammad Feku (21), and his mob reached Bari Colony and a scuffle broke out.
An infuriated Sanaullah then brought out his rifle and allegedly fired as many as 30 rounds, wounding four who were later identified as Mohammad Naseen (48), Guddu (28), Mohammad Ishtiyaq (24) and Mohammad Shahjahan (18). They had to be rushed to Hazaribagh Sadar Hospital from where Ishtiyaq had to be referred to Ranchi. A fifth, Bablu, sustained minor injuries.
As news reached residents of Romi, where the Bari Colony intruders belong, a mammoth mob of some 1,000 people descended on the roads. They smashed windowpanes of houses, pulled down the boundary of a house where Sanaullah and his sympathisers had scurried for cover and damaged his bike.
Sadar SDPO Jugnu Minz and DSP Arvind Singh arrived with a posse of policemen to quell the tension. After three hours of melee, Sanaullah and his men were taken into custody. They are, currently, being grilled at Pelawal thana.
“Right now, 11 are in custody. The main accused (Sanaullah) has been arrested. The gun was licensed and we have sought relevant papers. We are trying to find out what triggered the firing and clash,” the DSP said.
Residents of Romi pointed to Bari Colony’s terrorist link. “That place made news in 2011 when a terrorist was arrested. We want every house searched for illegal arms and ammunition,” said one.
Resident of Bari Colony, however, insisted that Sanaullah acted in self-defence. “As it is, the youths of Romi come here to tease our women and for theft. Even today, one youth was caught teasing a girl. Meku had been warned. He didn’t listen,” said a resident.