In yet another harrowing instance of anarchy in West Bengal and the country’s gradual transformation into ‘Lynchistan’, a 50-year-old police officer from Bihar was beaten to death by a mob in West Bengal when he went to the latter’s North Dijnapur district to conduct a raid regarding a motorcycle theft case.
The deceased, Ashwini Kumar, was posted in Kishanganj as Station House Officer. A native of the Purnia District in Bihar, Kumar joined the Bihar Police in 1994. Last year, he was transferred to Kishanganj, a district bordering North Dijnapur in West Bengal, as well as Bangladesh.
As per the media release from Bihar Police Headquarters, Ashwini Kumar had gone to question the accused along with other members of his force, as well as other police stations. As soon as the team reached the area, the bloodthirsty mob of local villagers descended upon them. While others managed to escape, Kumar was martyred.
His body was taken to the Islampur sub-divisional hospital (Bengal) for post-mortem and later taken back to Kishanganj where his colleagues paid their tributes to the martyr. Ashwini Kumar is survived by his wife and three children who reside in Patna.
While the State Government is looking into procedures to provide compensation, grants, and job to the family members of the deceased, this distressing tragedy raises several questions with respect to law & order in the state of West Bengal. While the rise of violence has become hard to ignore in the wake of elections in the state, incidents such as this have been common there for a long time now.
Despite having considerable members of the force with him, how did Kumar fall prey to the mob?
Even as the members of the Bengal Police force had been informed, they did not provide support and cooperation. Bihar police officers’ Association President Mrityunjay Kumar Singh has alleged that even though Kumar had asked Bengal police for backup, it was not provided to the latter’s team.
It is believed that at the time of the incident, Bengal police, instead of extending help to Kumar’s team, claimed that Bihar police officers had entered the village in order to interfere and disrupt the polling process in the Goalpokhar constituency. It is this rumour which cost the SHO his life, as the villagers gathered in the night and thrashed the police officers.
The Bengal Police has made arrests in connection to the case: Firoz Alam, his brother Abuzar Alam and their mother Shahinoor Khatun. The police are also looking for other accused who are presently in hiding.
Officers in Bihar Police claim that their counterparts in Bengal did not aid them for political reasons. Owing to the elections, the ruling party did not wish to irk its vote bank, and hence, the police were lax in taking action. The source also claimed that earlier, Bengal Police wanted to register a case of unnatural death, but later agreed to charge those involved with the murder.
A case has been registered under sections 302, 326, 147, 148, and 149 of the Indian Penal Code. All the police personnel who escaped from the spot when the SHO was brutally killed have been arrested.
Bihar Police Association has requested the State’s Home Department to provide ex gratia payment to the family, as well as take cognizance of the incident and provide the slain officer’s family with speedy justice.
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