Human Rights

Bihar Forbesganj Killings: Protest in Delhi, Time bound judicial probe and arrest of Police personnel demanded


New Delhi (13 June 2011): Activists, Students and Teachers on Monday here staged a protest at Bihar Bhawan against the police firing in Araria district of Bihar earlier this month which killed five villagers, including a pregnant woman and a six-month-old baby.

On June 3rd 2011, the police opened fire on a group of villagers who were blocking a road to protest against an upcoming factory at Bhajanpur village near Forbesganj in Araria, about 350 km from Patna. About a hundred people, under the banner of Committee for Justice to Victims of Forbesganj Firing (CJVFF), gathered outside Bihar Bhawan in Central Delhi and demanded justice for the victims.Other groups, including Act Now for Harmony and Democracy (ANHAD), Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association (JTSA), All India Students Association (AISA) and Mazdoor Bigul Dasta, also joined the protest.

"We demand a time bound judicial probe by a sitting high court judge, immediate arrest and suspension of the guilty policemen, FIR (first information report) against them under section 307 of the IPC (Indian Penal Code) and compensation of at least Rs.10 lakh to the victims," said Mahtab Alam, a Civil Rights Activist and member of the Committee while talking to media persons. He added that the CJVFF will also approach the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and National Commission for Women (NCW) tomorrow.

Social Activist and a member of the National Integration Council (NIC), Govt. of India, Shabnam Hashmi, who had also lead a fact finding team to Forbesganj demanded the Superintendent of Police of Araria. Sharing first hand information about the situation there, she said, “On 8th of the June, when we visited the site of the incident, we found the people still scared and not ready to speak as they were constantly threatened by the police officials of bearing consequences if they dared to speak out”. She further said, “The Kilings at Forbesganj expose the self- portrayed image of his being pro-Minorities and People- friendly”.

Manisha Sethi, President, JTSA while explaining the demands put forward in the memorandum said, “If our demands are not fulfilled, we will further intensify the campaign” adding “this is just a beginning”. Others who spoke at the protest meeting include Ravi Roy of AISA, Khalid Mubbashir of the CJVFF and Arshad Ajmal, a senior Social Activist from Patna.

Later a three member delegation of Manisha Sethi, Mahtab Alam and Manasi Sharma met Mr. Akhlaq Ahmad, officiating Resident Commissioner of Bihar in Delhi. Mr. Ahmed ensured the delegation that the demands would be immediately conveyed to the Chief Secretary of Bihar Government and will inform the delegation about the progress.

Mahtab Alam (9811209345) and Afroz Sahil (9891322178)
Text of the Memorandum to the Governor of Bihar
13 June 2011
Through the Resident Commissioner                                                              
Government of Bihar

It is with immense grief and anger that we write to you today bringing to your notice an incident of hideous brutality unleashed by the personnel of Bihar Police on poor villagers of Forbesganj block in Araria district. On 3rd June, when the villagers were protesting the blockade of a road that connects the village to the idgah, karbala and market by a private company, Auro Sundaram, owned by the son of the local BJP councilor, Ashok Agaarwal, they were fired upon by the police at the orders of SP, Garima Malik. It has been reported that in addition to the SDO, the local councilor was also present and not only did he instigate the police, but also personally fired upon them. The protestors were chased into their homes and killed. Six people, including a woman and an infant lost their lives. A gruesome video recording of the policemen jumping and trampling upon the faces and bodies of injured, half dead young men has exposed the depths to which the state machinery has fallen in the name of upholding ‘law and order’, and the reality of ‘good governance’, where the poor and minorities continue to remain vulnerable.

Though the government has announced a judicial probe into the incident, this can only be seen as a half-hearted measure taken under pressure of mounting criticism given that it has still not bothered to name the person who will head it; the ex-gratia compensation of Rs Three lakhs, and that too to only one victim is a mockery of this horrific tragedy and injustice. We therefore demand from the government of Bihar that:

1)      Time-bound judicial probe under a sitting High Court Judge.
2)       Immediate dismissal of SP, SDO and all other senior police, administrative officers present on the spot at the time firing was ordered.
3)      A thorough enquiry into the role of the BJP councilor Ashok Agarwal for firing at people.
4)      Compensation of 10 lakhs to the families of those killed and Govt jobs to one person from each family of those killed.
5)      Compensation of Rs One lakh to the injured and treatment of all injured at government expense.
6)      Immediate lifting of the blockade on the road to facilitate the free movement of villagers.
7)      An apology from the Chief Minister and the Government of Bihar for this incident.

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