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Two die in cop firing

A vehicle set on fire on Saturday. Picture by Sanjay Choudhary

Patna, July 19: Two persons, including a middle-aged woman, were killed and five others were wounded when police opened fire today to disperse a mob at Madanpur block office in Maoist-hit Aurangabad district.

According to the police, the demonstrators indulged in stone pelting, arson and hurling bombs.

The injured persons have been admitted to Anugrah Narayan Medical College and Hospital, Gaya. However, the condition of two of them identified as Awadhesh and Uday was stated to be critical. The deceased have been identified as Kalawati Devi, 34, and Dhanraj Kumar, 17 — both residents of Madanpur.

The trouble erupted around 3.30pm when a police team reached Madanpur block office to disperse the protesters, who had laid a siege to the offices of the block development officer (BDO) and the circle officer (CO) since morning to protest the arrest of a resident for his alleged links with the Naxalites. The protesters pelted the men in uniform with stones and set a police vehicle on fire. A section of the protesters also exploded bombs on the government offices.

Initially, the police pressed baton charge and lobbed teargas shells to quell the mob, which was demanding unconditional release of a resident of Chhalidohan village. He had been taken into custody during operations on Thursday and they demanded action against the police personnel involved in thrashing him allegedly in police lock-up. The mob subsequently set the block office and the circle office on fire and chased the cops. The protesters had also disrupted traffic on the busy NH-2 by putting up blockades at different points.

“The police were forced to open fire when a mob attacked them, set ablaze their vehicles and targeted the office of the Madanpur BDO and CO. The office to deal with applications under the Right to Public Service Act was also torched,” said Aurangabad superintendent of police Upendra Sharma.

Sources in Aurangabad said the mob had locked BDO Ashok Kumar Singh and CO Rajendra Pathak in their respective offices and did not allow them to move out. “The police had to open fire in self-defence,” added Sharma.

Additional director-general (headquarters) Guptesh-war Pandey confirmed the death of two persons in the police firing.

“Additional forces have been deployed in view of tension prevailing in the town,” Pandey said, adding that Sharma was camping at Madanpur.

Additional forces from Bihar Military Police’s 2nd battalion stationed at Dehri-on-Sone in Rohtas have also rushed to the spot to assist the local administration in maintaining law and order. “The police headquarters is keeping a close watch on the situation,” Pandey said.

The protest was continuing till the time of filing the report. Aurangabad district magistrate Naveen Chandra Jha claimed that the situation was under control. “The post mortem of the two persons killed in the firing is being conducted at a government hospital in Gaya,” he added.

Some local residents said the police with the help of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) had carried out search operations in Sahajpur and Chhalidohar villages on Thursday after being tipped off about the presence of some Maoist leaders in the area. “The police had to face a hostile crowd during the operations,” a resident said on condition of anonymity.

Manas, a spokesman for the CPI (Maoist), alleged that the security personnel misbehaved with some women during search of their houses angering the residents and they assembled at the block headquarters to protest the police highhandedness. Some innocent residents were also harassed after being branded as Maoists, he said.

This is the second incident of police firing in the state in the past fortnight. Earlier, two persons were killed and seven others were injured when the police opened fire to quell a violent mob at Akabarpur in Rohtas district on July 8. The incident had figured in the Assembly proceedings with Opposition condemning it and demanding action against the erring police officers.

Additional reporting from Alok Kumar in Gaya

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