When a District Magistrate was lynched by the mob in Bihar

A series of mob lynching cases were recorded within months of Nitish Kumar coming to power on November 24, 2005. But the mob ruled the countryside even earlier with a little prodding by ‘masters’

PTI photo
PTI photo
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Soroor Ahmed

Lynching has acquired dangerous proportions post 2014, prompting a strict ruling from the Supreme Court. The history of such politically-motivated killings by a rampaging mob can be traced to December 5, 1994, when the then Dalit district magistrate of Gopalganj in Bihar, G Krishnaiah, was murdered. Since then hundreds of such incidents, most of them during the Nitish Kumar rule, have taken place and yet the media tends to underplay this barbaric practice.

The 1985 batch IAS officer, originally from Andhra Pradesh, was dragged out of his official car and killed by riotous supporters of Bihar People’s Party (BPP) in Vaishali while he was on way to Patna. He was kicked, thrashed and while still gasping for breath, he was shot for no crime whatsoever.

At that time, Bihar People’s Party chief Anand Mohan Singh, MLA, with some of his supporters, were protesting on the highway with the body of Chotan Shukla, the Bhumihar strongman of Vaishali district, who was killed by a rival gang. Perhaps the driver of the Gopalganj DM never realised that his vehicle would be stopped by the unruly mob of upper castemen.

Those were the years of caste polarisation and then Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav was considered as the Messiah of the downtrodden section of the society.

A few months later, BPP joined hands with the then Samata Party of Nitish Kumar, who later emerged as the ‘Sushasan Babu’ (Good governance leader) of the state. BPP then became a constituent of the National Democratic Alliance and Anand Mohan, a darling of its leaders, until he was convicted for a lifetime by the Supreme Court on July 10, 2012. Earlier, the trial court had given him the death penalty.

But once the caste polarisation subsided, Mohan’s BPP gradually became irrelevant. During this time, Mohan joined hands with all the political parties of Bihar barring the Left. This included, for a brief period, his arch rival Lalu.

While Mohan faded, Chotan’s brother, Munna Shukla, was elected as Independent MLA, who supported Nitish Kumar. Later his wife, Anu Shukla, became the Janata Dal (United) legislator.

A series of mob lynching cases were recorded within months of Nitish Kumar coming to power on November 24, 2005. Over a 100 of them were lynched in dozens of incidents in the first couple of years of his rule. Almost all the victims were Dalits, EBCs, Yadavs and Muslims. The perpetrators were faceless and could seldom be identified or booked

The biggest such killing took place in Raja Pakar block of Vaishali––the district were Krishnaiya was killed. Early on the morning of September 13, 2007, ten Nats, nomadic tribals, were lynched by a mob of about 5,000 people for no valid reason.

It all happened when a group of 11 Nats were returning from a late-night function and

were about to go to their home in neighbouring Samastipur district.

It remains a mystery as to how such a large crowd assembled so quickly between 4 am and 5 am in the morning in the era when there was no Whatsapp facility. Though, it was alleged that they were thieves, the police could not find any record nor was anything recovered from them. While the 10 were killed, the eleventh, who was injured, was arrested.

Strangely, no one was arrested for committing this senseless crime just on the ground of suspicion. A fortnight before the Raja Pakar mayhem, a 22-year-old rickshaw-puller of Bhagalpur, Aurangzeb, was tied behind a police motor-cycle and dragged for about 500 metres before a cheering crowd kicked and thrashed him. The charge against Aurangzeb was that he had snatched a gold chain from a woman coming out of a temple.

One should remember that the Bhagalpur police had already earned notoriety for the infamous dacoits blinding case and later the 1989 communal riots.

The Raja Pakar (Vaishali distict) and Bhagalpur incidents were not the only two to take place in Bihar in those early years of Nitish Kumar rule. People were killed on one pretext or the other, even as the media grossly underplayed them. True, some dailies and channels reported them, but none of the stories were followed up. Neither any human rights group nor the judiciary intervened in this non-stop mob lynching incidents.

Though the phenomenon of cow vigilantism had not yet begun, in some cases, people (not necessarily Muslims) were killed on the charge of cattle theft as well.

As elsewhere in India, mob lynching has gradually acquired a new dimension in Bihar too. About 24 years after the lynching of a Dalit IAS officer by the feudal lords of Bihar, the situation has further deteriorated.

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