PUCL Bulletin, December 2001

The Chief Minister, Government of Bihar, Patna
Sub: CBI enquiry into the nexus between politicians, the police and criminals leading to rampant extortion, kidnapping and murder at Muzaffarpur.

Extortion, kidnapping and murder of those who do not comply with the demands of the criminals has assumed the form of a lucrative business of which many politicians, policemen are also beneficiaries. This scourge has become indigenous in this state with the blessing of those in power. It is not a secret that there are ministers, legislators and some others in position of power and influence who are and have been criminals and are known to be patrons of and beneficiaries of crime. The police have been protecting the criminals either under the pressure of their patrons or because they themselves are in collusion with them. The people of the state have been helpless victims of this nexus.

The business community of Muzaffarpur has been either paying 'Ranguari' to criminals or having their members murdered. Many of them chose to leave the State of Bihar to settle elsewhere where they could do business and still be alive. Extortionists also targeted the employees of the local University. A delegation of teachers met the Chancellor a few years ago to seek protection. Kidnapping for ransom has been equally rampant. The victims have not necessarily been very rich persons. Teacher and other employees have also been targeted. What has been most agonizing is the feeling that the administration has complete knowledge of the criminals and their crimes, but refuses to act for the reasons mentioned above. The helpless suffering has been breeding helpless anger.

It was in this context that when four or five year old Colu was kidnapped in broad day light from the heart of the town by the kidnappers known to the police, and the police despite all assurance for his rescue could produce only his mutilated body the whole town rose in spontaneous non-violent revolt -- the angry populace with no one to turn to with their complaint. Since to them the politicians in power too, were the patrons of the criminals resorted to brick batting at the police at some places. The police instead of showing understanding and restraint shot eight of them like dogs (the figure of the dead in the firing various from 8 to 10). Two of the victims, "who were shot dead near Kazzi Muhammadpur, were standing at a place (at the time of being shot dead) from which they could do no harm to the police nor could be a member of the crowd confronting the police. Due to the curfew in the town, I was unable to visit other places and am not in a position to detail the circumstances in which the firing was restored to.

You have ordered a judicial enquiry, which does not meet the requirement of the situation. For one, its recommendation is not binding on the Government. Second, it is not likely to shed any light on the nexus between criminals and politicians. Thirdly, it is not a forum for the prosecution of the culprits. Fourthly, an organized people do not have the resources and know-how to effectively represent their case against the police which has the full financial support of the government and the expertise to fight its case. And finally, the track record of RJD Government, which uses a judicial enquiry to sabotage any other enquiry which may expose the culprits and lead to their punishment. To cite one example, when in September 1995, the police ran amok and attacked Muzaffarpur Institute of Technology brutally assaulting the principal, teachers and scores of students a judicial enquiry was ordered, but never held. It was only a ruse to bar the National Human Rights Commission from conducting an enquiry on our complaint (i.e., the complaint of the PUCL). The guilty policemen got off scot free ) The people want the guilty punished and the end of the ongoing crime. This can be achieved only if the nexus between the politicians, criminals and the police of the district are exposed and criminal cases instituted against the guilty. The state police cannot do this. It is therefore, necessary to hand over the cases of kidnapping and killing for ransom which took place in the district during the last two years to the CBI Judicial Enquiry does not stand in the way of investigation of crime and institution of criminal cases.

I am not aware of the justification offered by the police for shooting as any as eight persons, but if the plea is that they killed them in self-defense they should be prosecuted. Every citizen has the right to shoot even kill in self defense, but he is required to establish before a court of law that shooting was necessary for his defense. If he fails to convince the court, he is held to be guilty of murder and punished. The police, too, are required to establish that they really opened fire in self-defense because the situation so demanded. There is no separate law for the police.

In view of the facts mentioned above, I urge you to order a CBI enquiry into the cases of kidnapping and killing of extortion which took place during the last two years and order the prosecution of the policemen who claim to have opened fire in self defense so that their claim may be examined by a court of law.
These two steps are the minimum that can be taken to bring the culprits to book and to make the police less trigger-happy.

- Prabhakar Sinha, National Vice President, PUCL