Bihar power minister says police acted in self-defence
PATNA: Bihar electricity minister Bijendra Prasad Yadav has defended the state police over the death of two men during a protest against power cuts in Katihar, accusing the protesters of resorting to mischievous acts.
Two locals were shot dead by policemen following rounds of stone pelting between protesters and cops in Barssoi area of Katihar district over erratic power distribution.
Videos of the incident show protesters throwing stones at policemen at the local block office.
Responding to the incident, minister Yadav, who is considered close to chief minister Nitish Kumar, said that the present weather conditions, marked by thunderstorms and rain, often lead to difficulties in power supply.
“Such challenges are not unique to Bihar but are experienced across the country,” the state energy minister said, downplaying the political storm that has erupted over the two deaths.
He further said, “When people engage in acts of violence, the police have no option but to resort to baton charges and firing.”
Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has criticized the JDU-RJD government accusing it of neglecting public grievances and mishandling the situation.
Another protester who also suffered bullet injuries remains in a critical condition.
The Bihar government has ordered a thorough investigation into the police firing incident, led by the district magistrate and the superintendent of police. The probe aims to bring clarity to the circumstances surrounding the fatalities and ensure that justice is served.
The incident took place around 100 metres away from the Barsoi police station in the district, the Bihar police headquarters said in a statement, adding that anti-social elements found their way into the crowd of protesters who started hurling stones.
“Nearly 1,000 local residents were staging a demonstration in front of the power department office. Some anti-social elements had found their way into the crowd and they started hurling stones. When a police party tried to quell the disruptors, they too were attacked with bricks, stones and sticks,” the police said, sharing photos of the injured policemen.
While one deceased has been identified as 34-year-old Khurshid Alam, a resident of Baasal village, the identity of the second deceased is yet to be ascertained. The injured protester is believed to be a resident of a nearby village.
“You can gauge the situation from the fact that there is hardly any portion of the power office left without tell-tale signs of the vandalism and stone-pelting,” Katihar SP Jitendra Kumar, who was camping at the site of the incident, told reporters.