PUCL, Bihar report :

Police firing in Murlichak Musahari, Patna

On Aug 7, 1999 the mobile unit of the Excise Department fired on inhabitants of Murlichak Musahari, Jagdeo Path, Bailey Road, injuring three people of whom two died. Demanti Devi and Dasai Manjhi both expired in the PMCH as a result of the irresponsible firing. The third victim, Yamuna Nandan Manjhi is still undergoing treatment at the PMCH News items on the firing appeared in the local dailies on 8th Aug 99.

A request was made by the family members of the Victims to the PUCL to conduct an enquiry as to the causes and consequences of the firing and also to make recommendations so as to prevent such violations of human rights in the future. Prof. Kishori Das, General Secretary, Bihar PUCL and Fr. Philip Manthara SJ, National council Member, PUCL were asked to conduct the enquiry. The team went to the said Musahari on Aug 13, 1999 and after a thorough investigation reported the incident. Shri Ram Ratan and Raju of this locality assisted the team.

During the investigation, the team visited Murlichak Musahari and talked talk the people in this area, met the officer in charge, Gardanibagh PS, District magistrate and Senior SP Patna, Excise Commissioner, Deputy and Assistant Commissioner, DSP., Secretariat, and also shri Yadu Nandan Manjhi, admitted with gun shots at P.M.C.H.. The team also consulted the post mortem report of Demanti Devi and Dasai Manjhi.

First Information report:

The incident, as reported by Dasai Manjhi, a victim of the shooting (FIR No. 466/99-section 307/326/34 IPC and 274 Arms Act), and recorded by sub Inspector Shri Arjun Paswan of PS Gardanibagh:

" I am Dasai Manjhi s/o Late Sukhu Manjhi of Jagdeo Path Musahari. I am in the Emergency Surgical ward of PMCH. in a wounded condition. Today Saturday (7.8.99) at pm, I was at my door when a jeep came and stopped in front of the Musahari. 7-8 people came out of a jeep. They were from the Excise Department. Some were in the police uniform while others were in civil dress. They were armed with in lathis and guns.

As they began to check the houses, the people told them not to enter their houses. They abused us and accused us of making liquor. Then the people came out with lathis and brickbats. Before the people had any chance to use them, the police officer fired at us several times. I was shot and wounded on the left part of the chest. In this firing Yadunandan s/o Jagdeo Manjhi, age 50 years, was also wounded. Demanti Devi, w/o Bhura Manjhi was also wounded on the left leg above the knee. We fell at the spot where we were standing. The Excise Department policemen went out of the place after firing 4-5 rounds. We three were brought to the PMCH by the people of the village.

I affirm that the firing of the Excise Officers and jawans wounded us three. This is my testimony. It was read out to me and having understood the contents, I have put my right thumb impression on it." Dasai Manjhi, Aged 50 years

The Excise Inspectors Statement:

A statement, case No. 470/99 U/s 147/341/323/353/337/IPC dtd. The office in charge of the raiding party, Inspector Bigneshawar Prasad Rai, filed Aug. 8 1999, with the Gardanibagh P. S. on the 8th Aug 1999.
It reads thus:

"Under my supervision, the mobile wing of the Excise department, Patna, raided the Musahari located at Murlichak at 7.00 PM on 7.8.99 to nab some people making illicit liquor. Their names are given below. 1. Dukhan Manjhi, 2. Ganga Bind, 3. Shatrukhan Ravani, 4. Surendra Paswan.

In the process of arresting, we had a lot of trouble with the illicit liquor makers and sellers. They took recourse to brick batting of the raiding party due to which Shambhunath Singh, additional Inspector, was hurt on the leg. Constable Jagarnath Singh, Excise Constable Md. Yunus, Home Guard Jawans Brijendra Pd., Amrik Pd, and Mangal Singh also got hurt. At that time Home guard jawan Kumar Dharmendra Singh fired two rounds and Amrik Pd. fired one round in the air. Nobody was wounded in the firing. The firing took place in my presence, the following persons were with me:

1. Shri Shambhunath Singh, Additional Inspector, Excise Dept., Patna, 2. Shri Arjun Prasad, Additional Inspector - Western Anchal, Excise Dept., Patna, 3. Juguanth Singh - Excise Constable, 4. Bhawan Pandey, 5. Vyas Prasad, Singh, 6. Md. Yunus 7. SM Riaz 8. Prabhu Rai

Home Guard jawans:

1. Brahmdeo Singh - 10840. 2. Amrik Prasad - 12642. 3. Mangal Singh - 10977. 4. Brijender Prasad - 5919. 5. Ganesh Prasad - 7073. 6. Kumar Dharmendra Singh - 237

Interview with residents of Murlichak Musahari:

Pushpa aged 18 years and Hemanti aged 11 years, both daughters of Dasai Manjhi, say that they were sitting with their father in front of their house on 7th Aug. 1999 at 7 PM. Three jeeps came and parked on the roadside west of the Musahari with their guns and lathis. When they surrounded the village and started entering the houses of Musahars some women protested and asked the raiding party not to enter their houses as they were preparing their food. The police said that they were looking for a man who had run away into the Musahari. Seeing the police in such strength the people ran away, panic stricken. The police fired at them. Two bullets hit their father on the left side of the chest. One bullet passed through and the other remained lodged in the body. Damanti Devi came to take her child who was playing in the area and the police bullets wounded her. Yadu Nandan Manjhi was sitting on a stool and as he got up to run, a bullet hit him.

Urmila Devi w/o Lakshman Manjhi aged 35 years, said that her brother Surender Manjhi, aged 20 years, who stays with her and by profession collects and sells waste papers for a livelihood, was standing on then road. The police picked him up and put him in a jeep. We all ran away frightened, when we came to know that the police was arresting everybody.

Shanti Devi: w/o late Jattan Manjhi aged 60 years said that on seeing that the police were taking innocent people to the stationary jeep to take them away, people of the Musahari ran to rescue the people from the police. Some of them had brickbats in their hands but did not use them. Seeing this, the police withdraw from the Musahari to the road and from there they started firing indiscriminately. She said that several bullets hit her grandson's wife Demanti Devi, who went to fetch her 6 years old child from the lane. As result she died in the PMCH the same night.

Janak Manjhi: Father in law of the Demanti Devi, whom the team interviewed, said that on returning from work he heard that his daughter in law, Demanti Devi was eating her meal around 7 pm on the roof. She got gullet injuries when she came down to take her child. She died in the PMCH the same night because the bullets were not removed on the same night. Rajender Manjhi, s/o Basudeo Manjhi saw the incident and remembers how the inspector bent forward while he took aim to shoot, the remaining police men were standing as they fired at the people.

Surendra Kumar shop keeper of Santosh Kirana Store is located in front of he Musahari. He saw the people proceeding towards the police, who on seeing the crowed approaching the them, started firing. He pulled down the shutter and remained inside still the firing was over. When he came out, he saw Desai Manjhi, Demanti Devi and Yadu Nandan were wounded. The people took them to the hospital. He also told the team that his bicycle parked in front of the shop was badly hit by the bullets. He showed us bullet marks on the wall of his shop.

The team visited Yadu Nandan Manjhi aged 50 years in the in the PMCH and asked how he was injured. He said that he went to work in Lallo Nagar and had returned to his house. He came out around 7 PM to buy some beedi. He bought the beedies and was sitting in front of the Musahari. Seeing the people running here and there, he too got up to run and just then a bullet hit him on the scrotum. He fell down where he was shoot. People brought him to the hospital where he is undergoing treatment.

The team members also met several other people who recounted the incident practically along the same lines as above.
DSP Secretariats letter to the officer in charge, Gardanibagh vide letter No. 2334 Secretariat Thana dtd. 8.8.1999.
To ensure that:
1. The investigation of the incident be personally made by the officer himself.
2. To ascertain the people, police and others involved in the incident.
3. That thorough probe me made regarding the firearms (private or Govt.) used in the firing. Instructions to confiscate these firearms and send them for examination.
4. The firearms used by the Home Guards should be confiscated and send to experts in the line for examination.
5. Examine the place of occurrence and get the bullets and other evidence etc. and have them examined in the forensic laboratory.
6. The bullets or parts thereof be examined and matched with the empty cartridges.
7. The report and post mortem report of the deceased victims should be obtained immediately. To ensure that the said enquiry be completed and submitted at the earliest after including the documents in the daily report.

Correspondence from I. O. Gardanibagh:

The day after the death of the Demanti Devi, i.e., on 8.8.1999, the investigation officer wrote a letter to the DSP Secretariat, informing him that (a) he had requested the Court to add section 302 IPC to the list of charges already mentioned in FIR No. 466/99 PS Gardanibagh. In the same letter he further requested the DSP to write to the concerned authorities to take necessary action against the following police officers, constables, and Home Guards:

1) Excise Inspector Bigneshawar Pd. Rai. 2) Police Inspectors Shambhunath Singh and Arjun Pd. 3) and Excise Police: A) Jagannath Singh B) Bhagwan Pandey C) Vyas Pd. Singh D) Md. Yunus. E) S. M. Riaz F) Raghu Rai 4) along with home guards: 1) Kumar Dharmender Singh 2) Brahmdeo Singh
2) 3) Ganesh Pd 4) Mangal singh 2) Brahmdeo Singh.

According to the letter No dtd 2337 dated 8.8.99 to the Senior SP and DSP, the Secretariat has asked for departmental proceedings against the accused in order to arrest them.

POST MORTEM REPORT OF DEMANTI DEVI

The Post Mortem report of Demanti Devi state that she had: One lacerated wound 1 x1/2" over lateral of left knee. One lacerated wound 1:x1" just above injury No 1. One lacerated 1/2"x1/2" over inner side of left mid high with punctured wound. Major blood vessels were damaged.

Cause of Death:

Loss of blood and shock. Two metallic objects removed from wounds, probably part of bullet. These objects have been handed over to the concerned person.

POST MORTEM REPORT NO. 1231/DT-11.8.99 OF DASAI MANJHI

After removing of bandage following findings were noted:
1. One stitched 2" long wound was found on left side of chest 7.5" left to midline and 10" below left shoulder. 2. One 2" long stitched wound was found 2" above the umbilicus on the right side. 3. One 8" long stitched vertical wound was found on the left side of abdomen. 4. One 8" long stitched vertical wound horizontally and oblique was found on the left side of abdomen. 5. One half-inch long stitched wound was found 7" left to midline and 15" below and back from the left shoulder trip.
On opening the stitches and thoraeco-abdominal cavity the intestines, diaphragm, and omentrum were found repaired and infected. The other findings were noted in the concerned column.

Above mentioned injuries were anti mortem in nature. The further details about consequences, nature and cause may be procured from the place where he had been treated previously.

Cause of Death: Hemorrhage, septicemia and shock.
Time of Death - within 12 to 24 hrs., from the time of post mortem examination.

Findings:

The documentary evidence and the testimonies of the people reveal a number of things:
A ) In the first place the team inquired about the four people arrested by the excise Department and police who had accused them as manufactures and sellers of illicit liquor as mentioned in the report submitted by the Excise Inspector vide case No. 470/99 dated 8.8.99. Registered at Gardanibagh Thana.

The inquiry team found out that the first three are neither from the area nor where they involved in making or selling alcohol, in fact they were visitors to the Murlichak Musahari. It is possible that they came to the area to consume alcohol. The fourth person Surender Paswan is in fact Surender Manjhi, who is the brother of Urmila Devi (see testimony in the report) and is a rag picker by profession. He is said to have been standing on the road when the Excise sleuths nabbed him. So, the whole purpose of the raid was miscarried if it was to nab makers and sellers of illicit liquor as the excise Inspector claims.

It must be said here that a number of people make liquor from Mahua in most of the Musaharis. It is also a common practice that the local police and the personal of the Excise Department visit these are as slowly to collect their monthly extortion. On such raids it is a practice for the Musahars to collect in strength, sometimes with brickbats to make the bargaining in their favour. These missiles are not meant to hurt the raiding party.

On enquiry the team found out that the people especially the women recent any outsider entering their houses. Usually they prepare their food at that time and they are inside their homes. Misbehavior of the policemen with the women can not be ruled out. Hence the resentment. Whenever there is a night raid, the people recent by coming out with brickbats and sticks. Some of them said that if the police came during the day there is no stone throwing at them. Liquor is not made in the night hence attempt to catch them in the night does not make any sense. In addition the people who were arrested are neither makers nor sellers if elicit liquor. All this put together could have built up the anger of the people and hence the demand to release the innocent people from their custody. The Inspector used personal revolver in killing, which is highly condemnable and illegal.

In not complying with this request it is possible that there was a mild bricking, which was not sufficient reason to resort to firing. From all the evidences we have, the team has come to the conclusion that the firing was totally unjustified and we consider it as totally irresponsible.

RECOMMENDATION (Part 1)

Since the families have suffered much because of the irresponsible behaviour of the Excise Department we feel basic human rights have been violated. Hence the families of the dead, Demanti Devi's and Dasai Manjhi's should be compensated with Rs. 5 lakhs each as demanded by the families in a written request to the DM soon after the discussion people and with him at the PMCH premises on 11.8.99. The money to be paid as compensation should be taken out of the provident fund of the guilty officers and Jawans.
1) That stringent action be taken against all those responsible for the firing. Departmental procedure of suspending all of then and then takes them into custody. The investigation Officer Shri Purushottam Singh, officer on charge Gardanibagh P. S. has already requested the court to add section 302 IPC to the FIR after the death of the Demanti Devi.
2) The firearms used for the killings should be seized as recommended by the DSP (Secretariat) in his letter of guidelines to the IO Gardanibagh by letter no. 2334 dated 8.8.99.
3) Jobs should be provided for the dependents of the dead.
4) Special provision for the education of the children preferably in a residential school.

RECOMMENDATION (Part 2)

Socio-Economic conditions of Murlichak Musahari, the Team's Recommendations for implementation, A Developmental package in the area immediately:

1. The first thing the team felt is that a tola of over 100 families living at a few kilometers from the head quarters of both the State and District Administration are made to live so miserably. During the monsoons it is difficult to walk inside the tolas because of the unhealthy living conditions. The Indira Awas Colony built a long time ago is already on the verge of collapse.
2. Of the three hands pumps two are out of order. The whole tola is now dependent on just one functioning hand pump.
3. The women complained that there is not a single toilet in the whole tola. How hard it is for them is only left to the imagination.
4. There is no school building. Two teachers have been deputed but the DM suspends them on 8.8. 99 for dereliction of duty. A new temporary team of two teachers is coming to teach now.
5. There is private primary school managed by Bihar Dalit Vikas Samiti.
6. As of today there is not even a single person who has passed the metric examination from the tola.
7. There is no health Centre for them.
8. There is no land for cultivation, no education, therefore no jobs. So all they do is to work as helpers in construction work. An average worker gets Rs. 50 per day when he gets work.
9. The women are totally unemployed. So some of them buy Mahua flowers make liquor. This is the only way to surviving when there is no alternative employment for them.
10. The many programmes announced on TV and Radio with the hype and fanfare do not reach the Musahars anywhere in the state.

It is in this context that the Musahars brew liquor out of the Mahua flower. This form of livelihood and the laws relating to the prevention of this form of brew is very beneficial to the officers and men of the Excise Dept. Sometimes it leads to firing and killing.

Worse is the case of the hooch tragedy. In the city slums how many people die of liquor poisoning. Once again Excise people benefit from these illegal trades. Even to day those responsible for hooch tragedy are not arrested because there is a nexus between the two.

A Look At Some Of the Hooch Death Casualties:

Date Mohalla No. Of deaths
Aug 92 East Lohanipur 22
Bhower Pokar 12
Shahpur 22
Dargahpur 18
March 99 Salimpur Ahra 12
Sahpur Dargah 08
Bakar gunj 08

Our Suggestions:

1. A comprehensive plan may be made for the development of the area.
2. There must be an alternative to making liquor as a means of livelihood.
3. The youth could be immediately divided into groups according to their interest and talents and be trained under TRYCEM
4. This will be followed by loans for the specific trade according to the training.
5. Women should be given loans and training to sell vegetables and other things in the area.
6. Leadership training in community in living, group activities etc,
7. Some of them could be recruited in Nagar Palika as safari Mazdoor
8. Mushroom growing could be another area to explore.
9. Education must be given top priority with people appointed with specific targets.
10. Vocational education is must.
11. Latrines for men and women must be constructed.
12. Health Care system to be made to work here.
13. Drinking water problems to be stored out and women could be trained to take care of hand pumps
14. A school must be made in the Centre where there is a big ditch now after leveling.
15. Special coaching for boys and girls to go residential school (Gai Ghat Hostel)
16. Orientation for officers regarding their behavior towards the Musahars.
17. The cooperation of voluntary Organizations could be invited fore the above task. The Patna DM Dr. Gautam Goswami showed keen interest in implementing some of these schemes.

 

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(PUCL Bulletin, July 2000)