Case Studies of Gender Based Violence During Bihar Panchayat Elections 2006

Cases of serious physical violence and intimidation against women candidates and their kin began to be reported in the newspapers from all corners of the state as soon as the electoral process was set in motion for the Bihar Panchayat Raj elections of 2006. As an immediate remedial response to the situation a fact-finding committee was set up and named as Panchayat Prahari. The objectives of this committee were -

  1. 1. To investigate and document the acts of violence against women participating in the
  2. To raise these cases of violence at various levels, including the media, the State Election Commission and various human rights commissions on the basis of the fact-finding report and advocate for their satisfactory resolution.
  3. To prepare an overarching document - compiling the various acts of violence and analysing them so as to come up with recommendations for reforms to ensure the systemic realization for women of the right to political participation.

A total of forty two cases were made note of and twenty five investigated. Twenty of the more serious cases have been presented here and they graphically bring out the way in which grassroots women who have dared to use the opportunity provided by the reservation of seats for them during the Bihar Panchayat elections in 2006 have been made the victims of gender based violence. The brief details of the cases studied are given in the table below along with the page numbers of the detailed report -

    No Candidate Seat Caste Violence Result Page
    1. Uma Devi - Steadfast in Resolve Muk. O.B.C Murder Won 1
    2. Chinta Devi - Victim of Left Extremism Muk. U.C. Murder Lost 4
    3. Nisha Devi - Punished for Challenging Patriarchal Power Muk. U.C. Beating Lost 6
    4. Kunti Devi - The Politician - Criminal Nexus takes its toll Muk.. U.C. Murder Lost 8
    5. Sirja Devi - The Politician - Criminal Nexus strikes again Muk. U.C. Murder Lost 10
    6. Kanti Devi and Kiran Devi - Men Fight and Women Suffer Muk. O.B.C Murder Lost 12
    7. Uma Devi - Men Fight and Women Suffer Yet Again Muk. O.B.C Murder Lost 14
    8. Mamta Devi - Overcoming Adversity Muk. O.B.C Murder Won 16
    9. Aklima Khatun - Overcoming Legal Wrangles Muk. Mus. False Case Won 18
    10 Nilam Devi - Winning against All Odds Muk. U.C. Kidnap Won 20
    11 Rinku Devi - Paying the Price of Political Uprightness Muk. S.C. Beating Lost 22
    12 Radha Devi - Victim of Criminalisation of Politics Z.P. O.B.C Murder Lost 24
    13 Asgari Khatun - Yet another Innocent Victim of Political Rivalry P.S. Mus. Murder Lost 26
    14 Janki Devi - Sacrificed at the Altar of Politics Muk. E.B.C. Murder Lost 28
    15 Rinku Devi - Suffering Quintessential Patriarchal Oppression W.M. S.C. Beating Lost 30
    16 Kari Devi - Proving the Nemesis of a Mafia Don Muk. S.C. Att. Murd. Lost 32
    17 Sitasati Devi - Triumphing against Injustice Muk. U.C. Thrt 2 Kill Won 34
    18 Abha Devi - Devastated by Male Chauvinism Muk. U.C. Beating Lost 36
    19 Kiran Devi - Victim of Family Rivalry Sar. O.B.C Murder Lost 38
    20 Zarina Khatun - A Mysterious Bereavement Muk. Mus. Murder Lost 40

Muk. - Mukhiya or Panchayat President, P.S. - Panchayat Samiti Member, W.M. - Ward Member, Sarpanch - President of Nyay Panchayat.

S.C. - Scheduled Caste, Mus - Muslim, E.B.C. - Extreme Backward Caste, U.C. - Upper Caste, O.B.C. - Other Backward Caste.

CASE STUDIES OF GENDER BASED VIOLENCE DURING BIHAR PANCHAYAT ELECTIONS 2006

1. Steadfast in Resolve - Uma Devi

Kajal, the one and a half year old daughter of Uma Devi, had her belly torn open with a knife and then strangled in front of her father Nepal Yadav and her uncles Devi and Raghu. When villagers heard the cries of her father and uncles and came running then the murderous mob of fourteen people ran away with Kajal's brothers - four year old Mukesh and seven year old Vikas, into the fields near the village and strangled them and slit open their stomachs too.

These gruesome murders were committed to scare Uma Devi into not contesting the post of Mukhiya in the Panchayat elections in Islampur village in Aliganj block in Jamui district by the incumbent Mukhiya and criminal don Krishnanand Yadav. According to the villagers the Mukhiya along with his brothers Preman and Jairam had been terrorising them at will as they not only bribed the local administration but also had the support of the Rashtriya Janata Dal MLA Shri Prasad Choudhury. When Uma Devi expressed her resolve to contest for the post of Mukhiya once it became reserved for women, Krishnanand offered her Rs 40,000 not to do so as he wanted his wife to be elected unopposed. Nepali Yadav and his brothers Devi and Inderdev and uncles Brahmdev and Ramchander said that Preman Yadav had threatened Nepali twice that if Uma Devi insisted on contesting the election then there would be a massacre of their family.

Some villagers, on condition of anonymity, revealed that before becoming the Mukhiya Krishnanand's economic condition was not very good. He used to work as the driver of a truck. One day the then Police Daroga or Station Officer, Mohan Rajak had asked to see the papers of the vehicle Krishnanand was driving. Krishnanand did not stop and this led to an altercation later between the two men and Rajak beat up Krishnanand. Krishnanand then teamed up with Dani Yadav and murdered Rajak. Dani Yadav killed him by hitting him with his motorcycle and then drove a vehicle over his dead body. These two then got involved in yet another incident of violence in the brick kiln near the village. A worker was murdered as retaliation for the non-payment of Rupees two lakhs demanded by these two as extortion money. Later due to a dispute over the proceds of a contract the two fell out and since then Dani Yadav has been missing and the villagers surmised that Krishnanand had murdered him also. No matter how vicious the crime Krishnanand always remains unapprehended and this has led him along with his family to become fearless in their criminal activities.

The villagers said that in the last Panchayat elections held in 2001 they had initially decided on one Rajkumar Yadav as the consensus "people's candidate" for the post of Mukhiya. Krishnanand Yadav too had seconded this proposal. However, at the last moment Krishnanand had filed his nomination papers and then with the help of Dani Yadav and other criminals had captured all the booths on Election Day and forced everybody to vote for him under duress. That is how he became the Mukhiya. Krishnanand had pocketed all the development funds allotted to the panchayat in his tenure as Mukhiya not executing any physical works whatsoever and he wanted to field his wife as a candidate so as to retain power and continue dominating the villagers. The villagers said that Krishnanand's wife is mentally unstable and so they would prefer Uma Devi as the new Mukhiya. Sensing the opposition against him Krishnanand and his brothers had first tried to threaten Uma Devi into submission and when this did not work they resorted to the murderous onslaught.

On the fateful night of 19th March 2006 at 11 p.m. when Uma Devi, her husband Nepali and three of their children were sleeping in their home their was a sudden knock on the door. The village chowkidar Surender Yadav woke them up and said that the Daroga was waiting outside and wanted to talk to them. When they opened the door they found that Krishnanand Yadav along with a mob of people consisting of Preman Yadav, Kallu Yadav, Sikander Yadav, Vinod Yadav, Uday Yadav, Nepal Yadav, Mohan Yadav, Salo Yadav, and Sanjay Yadav were standing outside armed with country made firearms and knives. These criminals forcibly caught Nepali and the three children and began taking them away. When Uma Devi began shouting then Nepali's brothers Devi and Raghu came out to see what was happening and they too were seized by the mob and taken away to the outskirts of the village where near the Neem tree Preman and Surender held on to Kajal as Krishnanand gored her with his knife. They would have killed all of the abducted family but the commotion raised by Uma Devi led the villagers to come running after them and so the murderers left only with the two small boys whom they murdered later at a distance from the village.

Nepali went with the body of his murdered daughter to the Chandradeep Police Station and lodged an FIR against the criminals as case number 42/2006 dated 20.3.2006 under sections 302, 307 and 34 IPC with Sub-Inspector Jai Prakash Singh. The police then came to the village and going out into the fields found the bodies of the murdered boys. The two other children of Uma Devi, Bablu aged ten years and Rani aged nine years survived because they had gone to sleep with their grandmother. While Surender was arrested the rest of the murderers including Krishnanand were still at large and so the villagers were scared. Only the Deputy Superintendent of Police had visited the village and he too had not submitted his supervision report. Nevertheless they stood by Uma Devi and convinced her to file her nomination on 24.3.06 and she was subsequently elected unopposed. Hundreds of villagers supported her totally because her family did not have a criminal record and nor did they have any affiliation with a political party. However, later Krishnanand in a macabre conspiracy killed his deranged aunt and daughter and lodged an FIR of their murder against Nepali Yadav on 19.5.06 at the police station.

The news of this gory incident was published in the newspapers and after this a team of investigators from Panchayat Prahari consisting of Beenita Meher of The Hunger Project, Pramod Kumar Singh of Vidyasagar Samajik Suraksha Seva Evam Shodh Sansthan, Kiran of People's Union of Civil Liberties, Anjesh Kumar of Lok Samvad, Shaheen Parveen and Kumar Vijay visited the village on 24.3.06 and elicited the above information by talking to the people and the police and civil administration. This fact finding team on the basis of its investigations made the following recommendations -

  1. The case no 42/2006 in which Krishnanand and his accomplices had been named as the accused for the murder of Uma Devi's children should be investigated by the Superintendent of Police himself and the accused arrested immediately.
  2. The victimised family should be given adequate police protection
  3. All the booths in Islamnagar Panchayat should be declared as being extra sensitive.
  4. The National Women's Commission, the State Women's Commission and the National Human Rights Commission should be petitioned for the provision of legal relief to the family of Uma Devi.
  5. The parents of the three murdered children should be given a compensation of Rupees fifty thousand for each child.

The report was sent to the State Election Commission, State Human Rights Commission and the State Women's Commission as well as the Director General of Police. The State Election Commission immediately listed the constituency as extra sensitive. The response of the State Women's Commission and the State Human Rights Commission was not encouraging while the Director General of Police had a Deputy Inspector General of Police visit the village and speak to the people and a police picket was posted there to provide protection to the villagers. The report of the fact finding team was well covered in the media with the dailies Prabhat Khabar, Aaj and Jagran giving it prominence. Nevertheless despite all these efforts Krishnanand has not been arrested in the case.

The intervention of Panchayat Prahari brought the attention of the media and the administration on Islamnagar village and so under this spotlight Krishnanand and his gang of criminals could not function with the impunity they had displayed earlier. Even though Krishananand has evaded arrest his criminal activities have been curbed. This helped the villagers to become bold enough to challenge his domination and elect Uma Devi unopposed to the post of Mukhiya.

2. Victim of Left Extremism - Chinta Devi

Pramod Singh, the brother-in-law of Chinta Devi, who was sleeping with his nephew Manish and father Ramvilas in the outer room of their house suddenly woke up in the night at 11 pm when he felt very hot and found that the whole room was engulfed in big flames. His father Ramvilas gave a shriek as he fell to the floor on his blazing mattress. Pramod somehow managed to drag his screaming half awake and burning nephew Manish out of the room. The fire had spread so much by then that Pramod could not go into the room again to save his burning father. The cries of the family brought other villagers to the spot and they threw sand and water on the room and managed to douse the fire after about half an hour. When they finally brought Ramvilas out of the room he was already dead. Manish who was badly injured was rushed to the district hospital in Aurangabad while Pramod received only slight injuries.

Chinta Devi, a Rajput resident of Simri Kala village in Aurangabad district was contesting for the post of Mukhiya in the Maharajganj Panchayat which was then being held by her husband Jeetendra Singh. Jeetendra Singh had gone away to Hania village nearby to listen to a bhajan recital and could return only in the early morning around 2 a.m. after receiving the bad news. Pramod Singh said that due to the heat they had been sleeping with the door and window of the room open and the attackers had taken advantage of this and poured a blue coloured and highly inflammable liquid that is locally called "thinner" all over the room and then thrown a burning lamp into the room and so the whole room had immediately burst into flames. They had not used a match because then they would have had to be closer to the room which would have been dangerous for them. According to Chinta Devi's aunt-in-law Sita Devi the assailants also kept another lamp and bottle filled with this inflammable liquid in front of the main door of the house but did not use it as they must have fled after the commotion raised after the first room was set on fire. The bottle had the label of the nearby Harihar Country Liquour and Kumar Bottlers on it.

The Panchayat Prahari fact finding team consisting of Shahina Parveen, Anjesh Kumar, Kumar Vijay Singh, and Narendra Kumar Singh had toured the village after reading newspaper reports. Pramod Singh denied that there was any enmity with others in the village and instead the people respected Jeetendra Singh for having done a fair if not an excellent job as a Mukhiya. One woman Lalita Devi on the other hand angrily said that Jeetendra Singh had assured her that he would support her candidacy for the post of ward panch and so she had done domestic work at his house but in the end he had betrayed her and nominated another woman for the post. Nevertheless she had gone along with Chinta Devi in support when she went to file her nomination papers. The villagers also said that the family had a land dispute with another family but it wasn't so serious as to lead to such a heinous attack. There was another candidate, Lallu Sharma, the daughter-in-law of ex-Sarpanch Sitaram Sharma who had also filed her nomination papers for the post of Mukhiya. However, this had not led to any ill feeling as Jeetendra's family was confident that they would get all the Rajput votes on the strength of his performance as a Mukhiya and Chinta Devi would win from a field of sixteen candidates.

The village is situated on the border between Bihar and Jharkhand and the whole area is under the influence of the Naxalites and no one is prepared to say anything openly about them. The Maoist Communist Centre had issued an election boycott call and were indulging in sporadic acts of violence to terrorise the people into respecting their call. Thus given the lack of any serious enmity of Chinta's family with any one the general undercurrent of opinion among the villagers as well as the investigating police is that this attack may well have been carried out by the left extremists so as to strike fear into the people to discourage them from participating in the elections. The whole ghastly incident terrorised the family of Chinta Devi and despite the seat being declared an extra-sensitive one by the State Election Commission she lost the elections because she could not campaign properly after this.

When the fact finding team visited the police station in Kutumba it found the station house officer sleeping with his shirt off. He could not say much about the investigation as the investigating officer of the case number 24/06 registered on 7.4.06 in connection with the murder of Ramvilas Singh had gone away on leave. The supervision report of the Deputy Superintendent of Police was also not available. The police had no clue as to the identity of the assailants. The fact finding team made the following recommendations -

  1. The Police Station be provided with modern weaponry and vehicles so as to be able to counter the fire power and mobility of the Naxalites.
  2. The assailants be quickly identified and appropriate action taken against them.
  3. The family of the victim be provided with full security and compensation.

The report of the fact finding team was sent to the SEC, the SHRC and the SWC but apart from the constituency being delineated as extra-sensitive not much ameliorative action was taken by the administration as it did not have the adequate will to fight the Naxalites.

3. Punished for Challenging Patriarchal Power - Nisha Devi

Nisha Devi the candidate for the post of Mukhiya in Amer Panchayat and a Rajput resident of Chakmaigar village in Vaishali District was sleeping at her home with her children - Shivam aged 9 years, golu aged 6 years and suraj aged 1 year. She was woken up at about 11 pm at night by a knock on her door. Thinking it to be her husband Pappu Singh who had gone out to campaign for her she opened the door. She was immediately confronted by a group consisting of Dhaval Singh, Dilip Singh, Vinay Singh, Jaymala Devi, Nirmala Devi and an unknown person. Dilip Singh and Dhaval Singh warned her to withdraw from the contest for the Mukhiya post as fighting elections was not a woman's job. When Nisha Devi refused an altercation ensued and a little later this deteriorated into abusive language. The assailants then caught hold of Nisha Devi's hair and dragged her out of the room onto the verandah. Dilip Singh took out his pistol and Dhaval Singh brandished his rifle. Dhaval Singh beat Nisha Devi on her thighs, stomach and ribs with his rifle butt. Nisha Devi began shouting in pain and fear and hearing this her husband Pappu and his brother also arrived on the scene. Dhaval Singh then aimed his rifle at Pappu and warned him that if he dared to file a report with the police then he would kill his whole family. Nisha Devi said that taking advantage of her injured condition Jaymala snatched her gold chain and then the assailants all went away in Dhaval Singh's Scorpio car and she fell unconscious.

Nisha's brother-in-law Amit Singh said that he then went with her and his brother Pappu to the hospital in Bidupur but the female employee there said that Nisha's condition was serious and she should be taken immediately to the hospital in Hajipur. She was then taken to the district hospital in Hajipur. It was there that at two o'clock in the morning of the 15th of April, 2006 that the Police Sub-Inspector from Hajipur City Police Station Shri Yashwant Kumar Singh recorded the FIR no. 106/06 in which Dilip Singh, Dhaval Singh, Jaymala Devi, Nirmala Devi, Vinay Singh and an unknown person were named as accused. Early in the morning at seven o'clock Nisha and Pappu were called to the City Police Station in Hajipur where Dhaval Singh was sitting with six or seven other people. One of these men asked Pappu to withdraw the case and also withdraw from the election as otherwise things would worsen. This man also said that Dhaval Singh is an eminent person and so there was no point in filing the case. He offered to compensate Pappu for all the expenses he had incurred and urged him to withdraw. Pappu refused and came back to the hospital with Nisha. They returned from Hajipur to the village on the 16th of April 2006 at three o'clock in the afternoon. Even after that continuous pressure was put on both Nisha and Pappu to withdraw from the contest or face death. Pappu was threatened that he would be implicated falsely under the Arms Act.

The Mukhia post in Amer Panchayat is a general seat and Dilip Singh who is Nisha's uncle-in-law is also a candidate supported by Dhaval Singh whose real name is Dr. Girindra Shekhar Singh. He is a government doctor posted at Mathoura Block in Saran district. However, he spends most of his time in Bidupur and Rajapakar where he has private clinics, a fact that was confirmed by enquiries in the Bidupur clinic. He is also a powerful local member of the Rashtriya Janata Dal and deeply involved in politics. He had encouraged Dilip Singh who is his compounder to contest for the post of Mukhiya and another employee Brajendra Jha to contest for the post of Sarpanch in Amer Panchayat with the intention of further strengthening his political base. Pappu on the other hand was proving to be an obstacle in Dhaval Singh's path. Pappu had stood for the post of Mukhiya in the Panchayat elections of 2001 also but on that occasion he had eventually withdrawn his nomination on being asked to do so by Dhaval Singh on the promise that in the next election he would be given a chance. Dhaval Singh alleged that he had given Pappu Rs 4000 on that occasion and he was now demanding Rs 50000 to withdraw the nomination of Nisha. Pappu on the other hand said that he had been given the money in the last elections to defray the expenses of snacks distributed at a meeting.

The villagers said that Pappu's economic condition was not very good, a fact confirmed by Pappu himself as he admitted that he had taken a loan of Rs 20000 for the election expenses of Nisha. He was also implicated in two cases of violation of the Arms Act and for looting and Dhaval Singh was using this criminal history of Pappu's as a threat to get him arrested again under yet another charge. The clerk of the Bidupur Police Station said that this dispute was a family one. According to him the whole family had sat down in a meeting to decide on one candidate for the post of Mukhiya and the women began fighting with each other. He said that Pappu had a criminal background and he had got the case registered with the intention of getting some money out of Dilip and Dhaval Singh. Clearly the political connections and economic clout of Dhaval Singh had made the police inactive in this case and he was not even being arrested. Eventually both Dilip Singh and Nisha Devi lost the election because of the division in Rajput votes caused by two candidates from their community joining the fray. This is precisely the reason why the challenge to Dhaval Singh's political ambitions put up by Nisha Devi had led to a violent patriarchal reaction from the former.

The incident was well covered in the media and following this a fact finding team from Panchayat Prahari consisting of Shahina Parveen, Kumar Vijay Singh, Vishwanath and Gita Devi had toured the village and submitted a report which was sent to the SEC, SHRC, SWC and the administration. The SEC only responded by declaring the constituency to be extra-sensitive. The recommendations made were as follows -

  1. All booths in Amer Panchayat should be delineated as extra-sensitive.
  2. Security be provided to Nisha Devi and her family.
  3. Appropriate action be taken against the accused.

4. The Politician - Criminal Nexus takes its toll - Kunti Devi

Kunti Devi, a candidate for the post of Mukhiya from the Mamarkha-Malahi Panchayat, was riding pillion on a motorcycle with her husband Pradeep Gupta on their way from their village Mamarkha to the district headquarters in Motihari at around 11 a.m. in the morning on the 19th of April 2006. They were going there to get her photographed for the purpose of publishing election pamphlets. Suddenly two people on a motorcycle came on to the road in front of them blocking their path near Batroulia village. Pradeep Gupta sensing something amiss immediately tried to turn his motorcycle around but Kunti lost her balance and so they both fell down. The assailants pumped three bullets into Pradeep and fled on their motorcycle. While Pradeep lay in a pool of blood Kunti fainted.

Hearing the sound of firing people came to the spot but by then Pradeep had died and Kunti was lying unconscious. The news of the murder spread like wild fire and reached the Police Station in Paharganj which was five kilometers away and a police party came to the spot within 20 - 25 minutes and took charge of things. By then Kunti Devi too had come round and she gave a passerby the phone number of her shop in Malahi. Pradeep's father Suresh Prasad received the phone call and he immediately phoned the local MLA Meena Devi, of the Janata Dal (U) of which Pradeep was an active member and then set out for Paharganj Police Station with his family. When they reached there they found that a large crowd of Pradeep's supporters had already reached there and hundreds of people had blocked the road in front of the Police station. They continued the road block on the Betia - Areraj highway for a few hours demanding immediate arrest of the assailant murderers and the suspension of incompetent police personnel. Finally the Superintendent of Police arrived and gave an assurance of arresting the culprits and also suspended the Officer in charge of Malahi Police Station, Shahjahan Khan, for dereliction of duty. Only then was Pradeep's dead body sent for post mortem.

The incident was a direct result of the political rivalry between Rajen Tiwari, an ex-MLA from the Lok Janshakti Party and Meena Devi the present MLA from the Janata Dal (U). Pradeep Gupta had started his political career in 1995 in the Samata Dal and later when it merged with the JD(U) had become an active member and played a pivotal role in getting Meena Devi elected and he was quite popular among the people of Malahi. He also used to oppose the extortion racket being run by the henchmen of Rajen Tiwari in the Malahi market thus earning his wrath. The officer of the Malahi Police Station said that Rajen Tiwari was in custody in Beur jail in Patna connection with an abduction case. The hearing for this case was to be held on 30th April 2006 and Pradeep witness was an eye-witness and so according to him this too could have been a reason for the murder and the involvement of Rajen Tiwari's aides was quite a possibility.

The news of the murder was prominently published in all newspapers and a fact finding team from Panchayat Prahari consisting of Shaheena Parveen, Anjesh Kumar, Akhtari Begum, Izaad and Anil Kumar Shrivastav from the Global Foundation for Social Welfare and Educational Development, Motihari toured the Panchayat to ascertain facts. The deceased's brother Krishna Kumar Gupta unequivocally said that the murder has been committed at the behest of Rajen Tiwari whose criminal writ runs over the area. Pradeep had been receiving threats to his life for quite some time and had made appeals right from the Malahi Police Station to the Governor asking for security and action against the issuers of these threats. Pradeep's father Suresh Prasad said that complaints had been filed with the Police Stations at Malahi and Govindganj as also with the DSP and the Superintendent of Police and they had copies of the two letters in this regard numbered 96/03 and 116/2000. Yet no action had been taken by the administration and so Pradeep had paid with his life. The earlier officer of Malahi Police Station, Shah Jahan Khan had destroyed all their applications. The present officer said that Khan had been suspended because of his incompetence in keeping the criminals in his area under control.

The villagers said that the Gupta family had not disputes with anyone relating to land or property and even in the Mukhiya elections in which Kunti Devi was contesting because of the seat having been declared reserved for women she was ahead of the eight other candidates because of her husband's popularity which had resulted in support from their own Vaishya community and also from the Muslims and Dalits. However, eventually Kunti Devi despite fighting bravely in the face of the death of her husband lost the elections. The recommendations made by the fact finding team were as follows -

  1. Compensation be paid to the family of the deceased and a government job to one of its members.
  2. Appropriate arrangements be made for the security of the family of the deceased.
  3. The accused should be arrested as soon as is possible.
  4. The Panchayat should be declared as extra-sensitive to ensure free and fair elections.
  5. The DSP Muralidhar Mishra who has been accused of shielding the perpetrators should be immediately transferred to ensure a fair investigation and enquiry.

The pressure created by the report of the fact finding team resulted in the Home Secretary issuing an order for the arrest of the accused which resulted in the issue of a notice of attachment of the property of the accused.

5. The Politician - Criminal Nexus strikes again - Sirja Devi

Dharmendra Singh was pasting election an poster on the wall of the house of Kanhaiya Singh for his mother Sirja Singh who was a candidate for the post of Mukhiya from Roophara Panchayat in Chirayya Block in East Champaran District at 7 o'clock in the morning of 20th April 2006. Dharmendra was on his wooden ladder when about eight to ten people came and surrounded him. The headmaster of the village Baliram Singh kicked Dharmendra and he fell down and then Brajesh Singh took out his pistol and shot him between the eyes. Then Satyendra Singh shot Dharmendra in the stomach while the son of the village chowkidar Zubair Ansari also shot him.

Sirja Devi had set out with a group of women to campaign in another village but on hearing the sound of gun shots she rushed back and along with her elder son Shailendra Singh they reached the spot of the crime. There was commotion all round and so the assailants fled, three of them on a motorcycle, but no one came out of their houses to help Sirja Devi. They took the wounded Dharmendra in the vehicle of the Zila Parishad to the referral hospital in Dhaka town but since there were no doctors there they went to the Rahman Nursing Home in Motihari. Sirja Devi and Shailendra met the Superintendent of Police and requested him to provide adequate security but the officer told them to take care of Dharmendra's treatment first and he would ensure that action would be taken. Later they met the Collector and pleaded with him also for protection. Dharmendra was referred to the Patna Medical College and Hospital as his condition was deteriorating and he later died there on the 24th of April 2006 at 3 o'clock in the morning.

The Roophara Panchayat Mukhiya post was declared to be reserved for women and this prompted her sons to decide on putting up Sirja Devi as a candidate for the post. There was not much time left for campaigning and so they had printed the posters in a hurry and were just beginning the campaign when this tragedy occurred. There was a long history of dispute between their family and that of Vindhyachal Singh. Vindhyachal Singh is supported by a very powerful politician cum criminal named Bijay Krishna Singh who is the Rashtriya Janata Dal Member of Parliament from Barh constituency. This person owns eighty five percent of the land in the village and also runs a clandestine smuggling and counterfeit currency distribution network from the village spanning across Nepal and Bihar. In 1996 Sirja Devi's late husband Siyaram Singh bought a piece of land which belonged to someone else but was under the control of this powerful person. When he tried to take possession of the land enmity began and Vindhyachal Singh as the henchman of Bijay Krishna Singh began threatening Siyaram. Siyaram then filed several complaints in the Police Station regarding these threats to his life and also the illegal activities being carried out by Bijay Singh. However, no action was taken on these complaints due to the power that Bijay Singh had over the administration.

This enmity came to a head during the last Panchayat elections in 2001. Siyaram Singh had contested the post of Mukhiya against the nominee of Bijay Singh. On the day of the polling Siyaram was beaten up by Vindhyachal Singh and his accomplices and they captured all the booths and indulged in false voting to defeat him. After this on 31st March 2006 Vindhyachal and Brajesh Singh and their accomplices had murdered Siyaram at the doorstep of his house. They had been released on bail just a few days before the 2006 Panchayat elections and had immediately begun threatening Sirja and her sons that they would not allow a single lamp to burn in their family. Just before this Dharmendra had been given a court date of 8th May 2006 for the hearing of the murder case of his father and since then Vindhyachal and Brajesh Singh had been continually threatening them with death. Dharmendra had filed a complaint with the Subdivisional Officer in this regard but no action had been taken.

A fact finding team of Panchayat Prahari consisting of Shahina Parveen, Anjesh Kumar and Prem Kumar Das had toured the village after reading newspaper reports of the incident. There was a visible fear in the village regarding the murderous power of Bijay Singh and so nobody was prepared to say anything about the accused in this double murder that had taken place. One person said on the condition of anonymity that the majority of people were poor and they dare not say anything against the accused as they would also lose their families. Shailendra Singh said that even though the villagers had contributed Rs 50000 for the treatment of Dharmendra they had done so on the condition of anonymity. Sirja Devi said that she had initially not wanted to contest the election for fear of further mayhem but after seeing that none of their opponents' family members were contesting she had plucked up courage to do so. Later, however, Vindhyachal Singh's sister had filed nomination papers. Eventually Vindhyachal's sister had bribed her way to victory despite Sirja having the support of most of the poor people in the village.

Dharmendra's widow Anita Devi is an anganwadi worker. She said that the terror of Vindhyachal is such that none of the children from their family go to school. On one occasion an attempt was made to kidnap Rajkuman the six year old son of Shailendra Singh. She said that Vindhyachal had been pressurising them to reach a compromise regarding the case of her father-in-law's murder.

The role of the police too is suspect. The case of Dharmendra's murder has been lodged in Shikarganj Police Station but till date only on one occasion on the 24th of April 2006 had the police gone to Roophari to record the statements of the complainants. The investigating officer S. N. Choudhury was not present and so the details of the case could not be accessed. The villagers said that Choudhury had earlier been a head constable at this police station and had continued for a number of years after being promoted also.

The recommendations made by the fact finding team were as follows -

  1. Security be ensured for the victim's family.
  2. Compensation should be given to the family and a government job to the widow of the deceased.
  3. Every booth of the Panchayat should be declared extra-sensitive.
  4. The Police Station Officer should be transferred immediately.
  5. The accused should be arrested immediately.

6. Men Fight and Women Suffer - Kanti Devi and Kiran Devi

Parshuram Yadav, Prahlad Yadav, Narad Yadav, Chandrika Yadav and Lakhan Yadav, all family members of Kanti Devi who was a candidate for the Mukhiya's post from Sisva village in the Basdevpur Panchayat in Khagadia district, had at about 8 a.m. on the morning of 11th April 2006 gone to the door of their neighbour Sanjeet Yadav armed with canes, rifles and pistols and began abusing him and removing the bamboo fence that separated their houses. This led to a serious altercation and Sanjeet Yadav opened fire with his illegal 315 bore rifle at Parshuram and the bullet went through his stomach and then hit Sanjeev's aunt Kiran Devi on her right arm. Kiran Devi was also a candidate for the Mukhiya's post.

The injured Parshuram was taken immediately to the referral hospital at Gogri and from there to the Patna Medical College Hospital. Due to excessive blood loss and lack of proper medical attention on time Parshuram died at about 9 a.m. on the morning of 13th April 2006. The police had recorded the statement of Parhsuram's father Lakhan Yadav in Patna and later after the last rites of the deceased an FIR was lodged in Gogri police station against Lakhan, Sanjit, Vikas, Ranjit, Vashisht, Indu, Mrityunjay and Kisto Yadav on the 14th of April 2006. The police went into action immediately after the incident and the Deputy Superintendent of Police led a team to the village and during their search siezed an illegal rifle. They also arrested Divakar Yadav a cousin of Sanjit but could not arrest the other accused because they were absconding.

Kiran Devi was also admitted to the Gogri hospital for treatment. She wasn't prepared to register any complaint with the police even after learning that her husband had been named as one of the accused in the attack on Parshuram and so did not go to the Police Station. Sanjit's mother Kaushalya Devi then filed a private complaint in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Khagadia on the 15th of April 2006 under sections 147,148,149,307,380 & 386 of IPC and section 27 of Arms Act against Lakhan Yadav, Parshuram Yadav (deceased), Chandika Yadav, Narad Yadav, Prahlad Yadav and ten to fifteen other unknown persons.

A fact finding team was constituted by Panchayat Prahari consisting of Beenita Meher, Anjesh Kumar, Kaushalendra and Kaushal Kishore Ray to investigate the matter after reports appeared in the newspapers. These investigations revealed that the two families were related to each other and had very cordial relations before the Panchayat elections. Once the elections were announced there was a rush to file nominations for the post of Mukhiya which had been reserved for women and as many as twenty two candidates had filed nominations. There were four from Sisva village itself including Kiran and Kanti. This had soured relations between the two families. The deceased Parshuram Yadav was of a criminal bent with cases of attempt to murder, road dacoity, thievery and abduction pending against him. He had been to jail a number of times in these cases. Even though Sanjit Yadav and his brothers did not have any criminal case against them before this incident they too were notorious for terrorising people and some of the villagers said that they indulged in thievery also on the sly. Thus the families came into confrontation over the Mukhiya elections which both wanted to win. Even after the incident both families were engaged in intimidating each other and it was alleged that Kanti Devi's family would indulge in booth capturing to win the elections.

The fact finding team found both the families to be guilty of attacking the other and also, as a consequence, to be victims of these attacks. The team also felt that there was no basis for the complaint made by Sanjit's mother that her house had been looted by the deceased Parshuram and his accomplices. The women candidates who had become pawns in the political rivalry of the males of their respective families were feeling very insecure. Eventually both of them lost the elections. The team made the following recommendations -

  1. A police camp should be established in the village to maintain law and order.
  2. The family of the deceased should be given compensation and one person from the family should be given government employment.
  3. All the booths of the Panchayat should be declared as extra sensitive.
  4. Impartial investigation should be done by the Police and the accused of both the families should be arrested.

7. Men Fight and Women Suffer Yet Again - Uma Devi

Little did Upendra Yadav, the respected ex-Mukhiya, renowned in village Belagaon of Vaidpur Panchayat in Banka district for his skills as a resolver of disputes, know that the dispute he was rushing to resolve on 27th April 2006 would be his last as it would end in his death. When he reached the scene of the dispute between the supporters of two women candidates for the post of Mukhiya he came in the way of bullets being fired by Manoj and Sanjay Yadav at Kishori Prasad and Shambhu Yadav and was killed instantly. Shambhu Yadav had pushed his father away from the line of fire and had himself dived to the ground and so saved both but the bullets hit and killed Upendra Yadav and also seriously injured Ranvir Yadav, Sachhidanand Yadav and Manoj Prasad Yadav.

There are two political groups in Belagaon both affiliated with the Rashtriya Janata Dal. One is associated with the incumbent Member of Parliament Giridhari Yadav and the other with the ex Member of Legislative Assembly Ramdev Yadav. Manoj Yadav who is a supporter of Giridhari had put up his wife Rita Devi as the candidate for the Mukhiya post while Kishori Prasad had got his wife Uma Devi to file her nomination for the same post. With this the political rivalry between the two groups had warmed up. Sanjay Yadav an associate of Manoj set the ball rolling by filing a complaint in the Police Station that Uma Devi, her husband Kishori Prasad and son
Shambhu Kumar were threatening Rita Devi and not allowing her to campaign for the election. The Police after investigation found no substance in this accusation and rejected the complaint. In reality it was Manoj who was doing all the threatening and coercing the voters to vote for his wife Rita. He had also told people that Uma Devi's husband Kishori lent money to the people at an exorbitant rate of 10% per month interest and if Uma was elected then Kishori and his son would extort as much as 20% per month as interest.

Manoj has an old criminal record and he had burned down the Shambhuganj Police Station in 2004. Manoj was incarcerated in jail for three months in this case and was out on bail. The chargesheet in the case was yet to be filed because of pressure not to from the MP Giridhari Yadav. That is why Manoj and co-accused Arvind Yadav were moving about freely. Manoj called a meeting of fifteen people on 24th April 2006 and proposed that there should be only one candidate for the post of Mukhiya from the village. He suggested that a vote be taken in the village to decide on who would be the village candidate. Accordingly on the next day the whole village was toured and people were asked to vote on duplicate ballot papers marked with the election symbols of the two canditates. At the end of the exercise Rita Devi had got 579 votes while Uma Devi had got 424 votes. Kishori and Shambhu protested that Manoj and his group had kept the ballot box with them during the tour and forced people to vote for Rita Devi. They said that since the ballot box had not been kept in one place under neutral supervision they would not accept the result. After this Shambhu and Kishori said that they would ask Uma Devi to withdraw her candidature only if Manoj withdrew his complaint against them from the Police Station and reached a compromise. Manoj refused to agree to this and so the two parties remained at loggerheads and indulged in slogan shouting against each other and nothing came of the mock voting exercise.

Ramvaran Yadav a supporter of Rita Devi armed with a lathi tried to intimidate Uma Devi's husband Kishori on the morning of the 27th of April 2006 and Lakshman added to the fire with his insults. This led to the two groups coming into confrontation. Rita Devi's mother-in-law Ratan Devi, who is a teacher in the Government Primary School in Kelni village, egged on her son Manoj Yadav and husband Udaykant Yadav, who is headmaster of the Government Middle School in Rajghat village along with Mukesh Yadav, Gudo Yadav, Sunil Yadav, Sanjay Yadav, Dayanand Yadav and Mahesh Yadav to open fire on the supporters of Uma Devi with their rifles leading to the tragic death of Upendra Yadav. The police raided the village after this and immediately arrested Ratan Devi but the other accused evaded arrest and absconded.

A fact finding team from Panchayat Prahari consisting of Pramod Kumar Singh, Kumar Vijay and Sudhir Kumar Singh visited the area after reading of the incident in the newspapers and after investigations made the following recommendations -

  1. The Superintendent of Police should take immediate steps to ensure that the chargesheet was filed against the accused in the case of burning of the Police Station in Shambhuganj in 2004.
  2. A task force should be formed for the arrest of the accused in the murder of ex-Mukhiya Upendra Yadav.
  3. The booth numbers 11 and 12 in Belagaon village for the Panchayat Elections should be declared extra-sensitive.
  4. In accordance with the Government Order No. 1972 C dated 9.8.2000 of the Home (Special) Department of the Bihar Government and the Replacement Order No. 25 C dated 12.1.2001 the dependent of Shri Upendra Yadav should be given a compensation of Rs 50000 and the Collector of Banka district should take immediate steps in this regard

8. Overcoming Adversity - Mamta Devi

Sujit Kumar the brother-in-law of Mamta Devi, the candidate for the post of Panchayat Samiti member from Meghi Nagma Panchayat in Nalanda district, was killed by a bullet in the stomach from the gun of Kishore Kumar on the evening of 24th April 2006. Mamta's husband Ajit and Sujit were returning from campaigning at 8.30 pm when they were informed that some armed people had gathered near the khalihan or grain threshing area close to their house. They had also armed themselves and gone to investigate. There they were confronted by Kishore Kumar who was armed with a pistol and he told Ajit to withdraw the candidature of his wife from the Panchayat Samiti elections.

When Ajit refused Kishore called out to his hidden compatriots and they came out armed to the teeth along with Chandradev Raut the husband of the other candidate from the village for the Panchayat Samiti post - Rekha Devi. These other people along with Kishore Kumar then began firing and so did Ajit and Sujit Kumar and in the ensuing battle while Sujit Kumar was hit in the stomach Kishore Kumar also lost his thumb. The sound of gunfire led to other people from the village rushing to the spot. After that Chandradev Raut and the rest of his gang ran away toward the west firing at and abusing Ajit.

Mamta Devi had been elected as a Ward Panch in the last elections held in 2001. A criminal Pradip Mahato had been elected as Mukhiya on that occasion. Immediately after the election Pradip had been convicted and sent to jail. Thereafter Mamta had been unanimously elected Up-Mukhiya and her husband Ajit alias Tuntun had assumed the effective responsibility of running the affairs of the Panchayat. After three and a half years a by-election was held for the post of Mukhiya and Vijay Gope another person with a criminal record was elected. He along with his associate in criminal activities Manoj Mahato were influential in local politics. While Manoj Mahato was a member of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Vijay was the Block President. Manoj had an earlier enmity with Ajit's family which led him to intimidate them further after Vijay's election victory. On one occasion in 2005 Manoj and his associates kidnapped Ajit's two brothers Mithilesh and Vinay and beaten them up with lathis and would have killed them but for the arrival of the police in the nick of time. A case had been filed in this regard at the Deepnagar Police Station but according to Ajit's father Ramlakhan Prasad the then Deputy Superintendent of Police at Nalanda who was close to Manoj had given orders for its withdrawal. In fact Vijay Gope's brick kiln is situated just next to the Police Station in Deep Nagar and he and Manoj were often found seated at the Police Station conversing with the Station Officer.

The news of the murder led to the constitution of a fact finding team by Panchayat Prahari consisting of Shahina Parveen, Anjesh Kumar, and Kumar Vijay Singh which toured the area on 30th April 2006. Most of the villagers said that earlier there had been a close friendship between the main accused Chandradev Raut and Ramlakhan Prasad the father-in-law of Mamta Devi. Ramlakhan Prasad is a driver in the Public Health Engineering Department and he had got Chandradev also employed there. Chandradev's house also had been built with the help of Ramlakhan. Mamta Devi said that while she was the Up-Mukhiya she had also awarded the contract for the construction of a road to Chandradev's brother Munna Raut. The announcement of the Panchayat elections led to this friendship being broken. Manoj Mahto won over Chandradev Raut to his side in order to maintain his supremacy in the Panchayat and had his wife Rekha file her nomination for the post of Panchayat Samiti member in opposition to Mamta.

Mamta said that Manoj extorted money from the people and also wanted the Panchayat to be run according to his dictates. When Mamta as Up-Mukhiya had refused to go along with this Manoj had begun threatening her and her family members. When the elections were announced Manoj got the majority Kurmis in the village together to assert that only one Kurmi candidate would stand for the Panchayat Samiti election from the village and no Kahar will be allowed to do so. Mamta's husband Ajit, who is an active member of the Janata Dal (United), refused to listen to this and insisted on Mamta filing her nomination also. This is what led to the confrontation escalating to murderous proportions.

A police picket was immediately posted in the village after the incident, however, when the fact finding team visited the school on the western end near to Mamta's house they found it to be empty and the police were instead at the eastern end. The Police Station Officer N L Choudhury said that there was no possibility of any more violence and so the police had eased their vigil. He also said that Ajit and some others had been named as accused for having attacked Kishore Kumar and shot off his finger and they too were absconding along with the rest of the accused in the murder of Sujit Kumar. The Deputy Superintendent of Police Ajit Kumar Satyarthi had toured the village but his supervision report was not made available to the fact finding team.

The family of Mamta being a minority in the village were being continually threatened on the phone to withdraw her nomination but she remained unnerved and finally won the elections. The recommendations of the fact finding team were as follows -

  1. All the booths in the Meghi Nagma Panchayat should be declared extra-sensitive.
  2. The dependents of Sujit Kumar should be given compensation of Rs 50000.
  3. Investigations into the murer of Sujit Kumar should be completed soon and all the accused should be arrested.
  4. Initiative should be taken to get the National Human Rights Commission and the National Women's Commission to intervene.

9. Overcoming Legal Wrangles - Aklima Khatun

Mohammad Alimuddin the husband of Aklima Khatun who was the candidate for the post of Mukhiya from Jave Panchayat in Purnea district was behind bars on a false charge filed by Shamim Alam, the husband of the other candidate for the post of Mukhiya, Shamsun Nisa. Yet pradoxically while still in jail he had been named as the accused in another case of attempted murder no. 09/06 filed by Shamim. The intention of Shamim being that Alimuddin remain incarcerated for the duration of the elections. However, Alimuddin succeeded in getting bail in both the cases, false as they were, and came out and campaigned well to ensure the victory of his wife Aklima in the elections.

The enmity between Alimuddin and Shamim is itself an oddity given the fact that Alimuddin had helped the latter when he was in dire straits earlier after his father had disowned him after his second marriage. Alimuddin had given Shamim eleven bighas of land and a tractor and also built a house for him. Both of them used to be comrades in arms in various good and bad activities. They were involved together in various cases of murder, attempt to murder and extortion in which they indulged to establish their political supremacy. However, they fell apart when elections were announced for the Panchayats in 2001 as both filed their nominations for the post of Mukhiya. Alimuddin won and since then he has been at loggerheads with Shamim.

The police too began to side with Shamim after an incident in which Alimuddin initiated a protest against them. Once a Muslim youth had brought a Hindu girl to the village with the intention of marrying her. However, Alimuddin had rescued the girl and brought her to the Police Station in Bhavanipur for safe custody and informed her parents. The girl later alleged that the Station Officer Mahesh Thakur had tried to molest her. Alimuddin then organised a demonstration against Thakur. This angered him and after this Thakur began to conspire with Shamim to falsely implicate Alimuddin in various cases. Even after Thakur was transferred to the Sessions Court in Purnea the new officer in Bhavanipur Police Station and the Police Inspector in Dhamdaha continued to persecute Alimuddin. Apart from this there was political rivalry between the two as Shamim belonged to the Rashtriya Janata Dal while Alimuddin was a member of the Samajwadi Party. In the last legislative elections Alimuddin had contested from the Rupouli assembly seat as the candidate of the Samajwadi party and come second despite the presence of Vibha Bharati, the wife of the criminal don Avadesh Mandal and another criminal don Shankar Singh. Vibha Bharati bested Alimuddin by only 6308 votes and this is an indication of how popular Alimuddin is in the area.

News reports appeared of the tense situation building up in Jave village due to this nexus between Shamim and the police to falsely implicate Alimuddin and so a fact finding team consisting of Beenita Meher, Anjesh Kumar, Kaushalendra and Abhishek Kumar went to the area to investigate matters. Shamim showed them a copy of the complaint he had made to the administration regarding the alleged criminal activities of Alimuddin and it had the following list of criminal cases registered against him in the two police stations of Bhavanipur and Dhamdaha -

  1. Dhamdaha case no. 95/89, Sections 420, 406 of IPC
  2. Bhavanipur case no. 149/94, Sections 384, 302 of IPC
  3. Bhavanipur case no. 30/89, Section 302 of IPC
  4. Bhavanipur case no. 122/86, Sections 379, 307 of IPC
  5. Bhavanipur case no. 9/88, Sections 379/307 of IPC
  6. Bhavanipur case no. 62/89, Sections 365, 469, 468 & 34 of IPC
  7. Bhavanipur case no. 70/04, Sections 302, 120, 329 of IPC
  8. Bhavanipur case no. 01/05, Section 384 of IPC

Enquiries with the Bhavanipur Police Station revealed that the case numbers 149/94 relating to the murder of a thief, 122/86 and 9/88 had all been disposed of with acquittal for all the accused in the case including Alimuddin as they were1 found to be false. While case numbers 70/04 and 01/05 were found to be instituted by Shamim in collusion with the police to harass Alimuddin and he was subsequently acquitted in both of them. Moreover it was also found that Shamim too was a co-accused in three of these cases. On the basis of these investigations complaints were made to the State Election Commission and the Director General of Police. This resulted in the transfer of Mahesh Thakur and later suspension when a Deputy Superintendent of Police found after investigation that he had filed false cases. Shamim was also arrested in the cases pending against him in which the court had issued warrants against him. The recommendations made by the fact finding team were as follows -

  1. The Police Station Officer of Bhavanipur, the Police Inspector of Dhamdaha and the Police Officer of the District and Sessions Court Purnea, Mahesh Thakur should be transferred.
  2. An independent enquiry be conducted into the cases registered against Alimuddin so as to bring out the facts.
  3. Ensure the arrest of accused Shamim Alam in the many cases in which warrants have been issued against him.
  4. Jave Panchayat should be declared extra-sensitive so as to ensure free and fair polls.

10. Winning against All Odds - Nilam Devi

A hundred or so left extremists dressed in green uniforms came to Nilam Devi's house, the candidate for the Mukhiya post from village Kanoud in Nagma Panchayat in Gaya on 25th April 2006 and caught and tied up her nephew Kumud Kumar and entered her house. They demanded to know where her husband Ajay Singh and Guddu Singh were. When the people inside the house said they were unaware of their whereabouts then the extremists cleared everyone out of the house and planted can-bombs around it. Later they took out the can-bombs and left taking three motocycles standing in front of the house. One of the motorcycles being technically faulty they later left by the roadside. They also took away the secondary and senior secondary level pass certificates of Nilam's son Sujit Kumar. The police despite being informed immediately arrived only four hours later and then abused the victims.

Nilam Devi had been elected as Ward Panch in the 2001 Panchayat elections and was unanimously elected as Up-Mukhiya. She had also served as acting Mukhiya for a week when the incumbent Mukhiya Jai Singh had been incapacitated due to a fracture in his leg. This time Nilam Devi is contesting the elections for the Mukhiya post despite it not being a seat reserved for women. Jai Singh has also filed for re-election and the other candidates are Pramod Singh, Devraj Yadav and Girija Paswan. While Nilam is from the Bhumihar caste her main rival Jai Singh is from the Rajput caste which has traditionally been powerful in the area. Pramod Singh is also a Rajput and his supporters have threatened Nilam that she should not move around campaigning alone. Pramod Singh's cousin Uday Pratap Singh had earlier been posted as the Station Officer at the Imamganj Police Station and was now posted in the Criminal Investigation Department. He had campaigned for Pramod for a few days. He had also assured Pramod that he would arrange for only lathi wielding and not armed policemen to be posted in the booths during polling so that booth capturing would become possible. Apart from this Girija Paswan too was threatening the supporters of Nilam Devi and had beaten up one of them Rajo Paswan.

Reports of the incident were published in the newspapers and so a fact finding team was constituted by Panchayat Prahari consisting of Pramod Kumar Singh, Venkatesh Sharma, Kapil and Pramod Kumar to visit the area for enquiries. Bhola Kumar the Officer in charge of the Imamganj Police Station said that the left extremists had tried to blow up Nilam Devi's house with dynamite but that due to his prompt intervention the culprits had fled without doing so. He said that the perpetrators had been identified but not arrested yet. Bhola Kumar also said that Nilam's husband Ajay Singh was a listed criminal with cases of loot and the murder of Bajrangi Sau against him. A year earlier another attempt had been made on his life but by mistake another person Mintu a medical representative had been killed. Kumar said that the whole area was under the influence of the Maoist Communist Centre and he never travelled without an escort party of Central Reserve Police and advised the fact finding team too not to go the village. According to him Ajay Singh was on the hit list of the MCC and so this incident had occurred.

The people of the village said that there was a long standing land dispute between Ajay Singh and his neighbour Mudrika Singh. On one occasion when they were confronting each other firing took place from both sides and the Bajrangi Sau who was the labourer of Mudrika Singh died after he was hit by a bullet. The post mortem could not be conducted due to the negligence of the Police. The people of Chhatarpur, Keshandha and Jai Vigha villages who are Yadavs and Dalits said they had to go to Nagma and Navakhop villages to vote in the elections as there were no booths in their villages. Consequently they were never able to vote as the Rajputs would capture the booths.

The enquiries revealed that while the FIR mentioned that the pits for the planting of the can-bombs had been dug inside the house, Nilam Devi said that the bombs were planted all around the house. This discrepancy has cast doubts on the bomb theory and there was a distinct possibility that this was concocted at the behest of the Police who wanted to earn praise for having foiled the extremists. The incident seems to have occurred as a threat to Nilam Devi to withdraw from the contest. Nilam Devi said that she had information that the assailants had had a feast of goat meat at one of her opponent's house before coming to intimidate her. On the basis of these facts the following recommendations were made by the fact finding team -

  1. All the booths of Nagma Panchayat be declared extra-sensitive.
  2. The Superintendent of Police or the monitoring department should carry out an enquiry to establish the truth of the charge of the planting of dynamites and their subsequent removal.
  3. Separate polling booths should be established in the Lok Shikshan Kendra in Chhatarpur, community centre in Keshandha and the Panchayat Building in Jai Vigha.
  4. Enquiries should be conducted into the allegations of campaigning by the ex Station Officer of Imamganj Police Station Uday Pratap Singh and if found to be true then action should be taken against him.

The State Election Commission implemented the third recommendation regarding the creation of separate polling booths and also stationed extra armed para-military personnel and so no booth capturing could take place. As a result Nilam Devi won the elections and was chosen the new Mukhiya.

11. Paying the Price of Political Uprightness - Rinku Devi

Rinku Devi, the Mukhiya candidate from village Sandesh in Bhojpur district had gone to campaign with her husband Shankar Dayal Rajak to the nearby village of Sirkichak on 7th May 2006 in the afternoon when suddenly Rampravesh Ram a supporter of a rival candidate Santra Devi reached the place where they were sitting and began abusing them. When Shankar Dayal protested Rampravesh beat him up injuring him badly. The incident occurred on a Friday when the Muslim residents of Sirkichak had all gone to the mosque to offer prayers and so Rinku and her husband were sitting alone on the porch of Chilhi Choudhury awaiting their return.

Rinku Devi along with her husband and supporter Ramashish Gupta filed a complaint with the Police Station at Sandesh. When she went to the Police Station again with her husband and Ramashish Gupta on the 9th of May 2006 to enquire about the action taken on her complaint the Station Officer Shivsharan Sah became angry and began abusing them. This led to an altercation with the police officer and finally he ordered his sub- inspector Yaduvansh Singh to beat up Shankar Dayal.

Rinku Devi had initially been a member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist). She had been elected Panchayat Samiti Member from Sandesh in the 2001 Panchayat elections. She had reservations about the corrupt practices of the other members of the Panchayat Samiti. Finally alleging that Rajendra Singh the President of the Panchayat Samiti and others were taking illegal commissions from contractors she resigned from her post on 15th September 2006. The sequence of events started with her asking the BDO Krishna Kumar Gupta about the expenditure details of the construction of a road in Sirkichak village. The BDO instead of furnishing the information abused her and two men present there beat her and injured her. She filed a complaint with the magistrate about this and till then the CPI (ML) supported her. However, later the people from her party too got involved in commission mongering and refused to support her and so she resigned from the party and from her post. Ramashish Gupta helped her at that time and got her membership in his party the Communist Party of India.

News of the beating up of Rinku Devi's husband was published in the papers and so a fact finding team was constituted by Panchayat Prahari consisting of Shahina Parveen, Anjesh Kumar, Lal Mohan Ray of Samashesh and Shamshad "Prem" an independent journalist to enquire into the incidents. The people of the area said that Shivcharan Sah the Station Officer of Sandesh Police Station and his assistant were corrupt. Sandesh is a market village of bigger proportions and Sah used to extort money from the shopkeepers by threatening to implicate them in false cases and beat them up. Rampravesh Ram the accused in the beating up of Rinku's husband Shankar Dayal runs an illegal liquor shop by bribing Sah. It was reported that he had paid some four to five thousand rupees to Sah not to take action on Rinku's complaint. Rampravesh on the other hand said that it was Ramashish and Shankardayal who had abused and beaten him up when he refused to support Rinku Devi.

Rinku Devi's relationship with the police had become sour in an earlier incident. On one occasion there had been a fight between two groups of people in Sirkichak on Holi day and one person had had his arm broken. After this the police came and arrested people from both groups and took them to the Police Station. The people of the village approached Rinku to help them and she went to the Police Station and asked the police to mediate between the two groups and broker a settlement and not file cases. The Station Officer Sah refused to do so without taking a bribe. However, as the people under the leadership of Rinku began demonstrating in front of the Police Station he was forced to let them go. This made Sah angry and so combined with his good relationship with Rampravesh due to the bribes he received from his illegal liquor vending it made him ignore Rinku Devi's complaint. Finally not getting any positive response from the police Rinku had filed a private complaint in the magistrate's court in Ara. The station officer Sah, however, denied that any incidents of beating up of Rinku's husband either in Sirkichak by Rampravesh or in the Police Station by his assistant had occurred and there was no complaint with him in this regard.

Enquiries also revealed that the main opponent of Rinku was Kalamuni Devi from Trikol village and it was her supporters who had put up Santra Devi as a candidate from Sandesh as a political ploy to draw away some of Rinku Devi's votes. Thus it is clear that Rinku is a strong and capable woman activist and she is being harassed by the administration because of her upright and fighting character. The rival communist parties are also using her in their bid to establish their political supremacy in the area. The recommendations made by the fact finding team were as follows -

  1. All polling booths in the Sandesh Panchayat should be declared extra-sensitive.
  2. Independent enquiry should be conducted by a higher level Police Officer into the allegations of harassment made by Rinku Devi and appropriate action taken.
  3. Enquiry should be conducted into the allegations of extortion against the Police Officers of Sandesh Police Station and they should be suspended.

12. Victim of Criminalisation of Politics - Radha Devi

Sudhir Yadav, the husband of Radha Devi who was contesting for the post of Zilla Parishad Member from the Pandarakh South seat in Patna District was dragged out from the jeep in which he was travelling on 6th May 2006 at 1.30 p.m. and shot dead by masked criminals. They then began asking the names of the others accompanying him in the jeep on which Sudhir's brother's brother in law Pappu Yadav began running away. The criminals chased him and shot him dead too some 25 meters away and then went away.

Sudhir and Pappu along with other family members and supporters had been campaigning for Radha Devi all day and had just set out from Saharan village to go to Dahma village when eight or nine masked and armed assailants had stopped their jeep near the slope on Burwha Kon. Two of them had rifles while the rest all had pistols. They forced all the passengers in the jeep to get down and the men with the rifle shot Sudhir dead. Sudhir's uncle and the others accompanying him then ran to the nearby Saidapur village and phoned his relatives and the police. The FIR was initially lodged by Sudhir's brother Pramod but later this was changed and Indradev Yadav became the complainant because Pramod objected to the facts detailed in the FIR by the police.

A fact finding team was constituted for investigations by Panchayat Prahari after news of the double murder was published in the newspapers. Pramod Kumar Singh and Venkatesh Sharma constituted the team and toured the area. They immediately found that this was a case of rivalry between two criminal groups - that of Mithilesh Paswan and Dularchak Yadav. The assailants were from the Mithilesh Paswan group and they had planned to waylay and murder Shivdayal Singh a fierce criminal of the Dularchak Yadav group. However, when they stopped the jeep they found Sudhir Yadav and Pappu Yadav in it who had earlier murdered Vijendra Paswan the cousin of Mithilesh Paswan (Case no. 138/2003 Police Station Barh). So they vented their wrath on these two instead. Sudhir and Pappu were hardened criminals who were implicated in several cases of looting of trucks and kidnapping of he son of a dal mill owner. Pramod Yadav another brother of Sudhir was also implicated in these cases.

Krishnamohan Yadav the eldest brother of Sudhir was the incumbent Zilla Parishad member from Barh East constituency. However, in the 2006 elections after this seat and the Pandarakh South seat became reserved for women Krishnamohan put up his mother Sumitra as the candidate for the first and his brother Sudhir's wife Radha as the candidate for the second seat. This was part of a trend in this area of Patna and the adjoining Mokamah districts where many hardened criminals and mafia dons had put up their wives as candidates from the reserved seats to be able to control the Zilla Parishad and cash in on the contracts for public works to be sanctioned by it. Thus clearly the whole series of events before and up to the murder of Sudhir and Pappu Yadav was a direct result of the criminalisation of politics and the women in the families of these criminals were the innocent sufferers. Radha Devi is a graduate and the wife of Pappu Yadav is a matriculate and so they have suffered unnecessarily because of the criminal activities of their husbands. They were terrified by the events and Radha Devi was unable to go out to campaign for fear of further attacks.

The police have failed in providing adequate protection to the candidates given the widespread influence of criminals in the area. The victims were unarmed when they were campaigning following the strict orders of the State Election Commission in this regard. Thus they fell easy prey to their armed assailants. The police had also not seen fit to take the statements of Radha Devi and other family members regarding the possibility of such attacks due to threats being given to them. No senior officer of the police or administration had visited the affected families. The police had, however, arrested two of the accused Ramvriksh Paswan and Vijay Paswan and were searching for the other accused - Jogi Pahalwan alias Joginder Paswan, Omkar Paswan, Balkishan, Dayanand Paswan, Kishori Mallah and four others.

The recommendations made by the fact finding team on the basis of the above investigations were as follows -

  1. Full protection should be provided by the police to Radha Devi so that she could campaign without fear.
  2. A compensation of Rs 50,000 each should be given to Radha Devi and Kalevari Devi and they should also be given government jobs.
  3. Enquiries should be made as to why Pramod Yadav withdrew his name from the FIR on the basis of disagreement with the facts detailed in it by a senior police officer.

13. Yet another Innocent Victim of Political Rivalry - Asgari Khatun

Noor Alam the son of Asgari Begum who was the candidate for Panchayat Samiti Member's post from village Dibra in Nauhatta Block of Saharsa district was shot dead by the relatives and supporters of the candidate for the Mukhiya post, Nikhat Parveen, on the day of polling on 15th May 2006. This incident occurred when Nikhat arrived to cast her vote and found that there was a long line of people waiting to do so. She insisted that she be allowed to go in first as her child was crying at home and she had to go back in a hurry. At this others including Noor Alam began protesting and there was an altercation between a group of people led by Minnatullah the father-in-law of Nikhat, the incumbent Mukhiya and another led by Sohrab whose wife Sultana Parveen was also a candidate for the Mukhiya post. Both the groups had made preparations for capturing the polling booth and so were heavily armed with guns and bows and arrows. Thus a fierce battle ensued between the two groups and in the melee Noor Alam was shot in the chest. Finally the security forces became active after this and Minnatullah and his accomplices fled the scene but by that time Noor Alam had died.

Asgari Khatun herself was in the district hospital at Saharsa where she had been admitted on 4th May 2006 recovering from an attack of cold and fever. Her condition had improved and she was thinking that she would return home after the elections and wait for the results. Her family members who were themselves overwhelmed by the unexpected tragedy did not reveal it to her. However, on the 19th of May 2006 a nurse at the hospital told her of her son's murder late at night and Asgari immediately died of shock. This whole tragic sequence of events was reported in the newspapers and subsequently a fact finding team from Panchayat Prahari consisting of Shahina Parveen, Anjesh Kumar, Kumar Vijay Singh and Jitendra Chourasia, social worker went to the area to investigate matters on 6th July 2006.

Such was the gloom that engulfed the family of Asgari that even after nearly two months Ghulam Ahmad her husband and Anwari Khatun the widow of Noor Alam broke into tears while recounting the tragic fate that had befallen them. Ghulam Ahmad lamented that first he had lost his son and then his wife too had died leaving him doubly bereaved. The villagers said that there was an old enmity between the two families of Ghulam Ahmad and Minnatullah. Both had fought for the Mukhiya post in the Panchayat elections of 2001. However, by using the power of money and armed force Minnatullah had won the elections. He then began to defalcate the development funds instead of using them to good purpose for the village. Ghulam Ahmad's brother Ashfaq, however, was his agent and another person Mohammad Sohrab was the contractor for the Panchayat works. Ashfaq said that Minnatullah made him sign on a blank cheque and took out all the money that had come for the construction of drains in the village without doing any physical works on the ground. After this both he and Sohrab had separated themselves from Minnatullah. Ashfaq filed a case in the court at Saharsa against Minnatullah for defalcating Panchayat funds which was being heard there. The villagers too said that Minnatullah was extremely corrupt and had not done any development work for the village. They said that this was the reason for the enmity between Minnatullah and Ghulam Ahmad.

The village is divided into two hamlets one of the Hindus and the other of the Muslims. The Hindus complained that Minnatullah had not done any development works in their hamlet while the Muslims said that most of the money had been defalcated by the Mukhiya without any noticeable development of the village.

The Mukhiya seat was declared reserved for women in the 2006 Panchayat elections and so Minnatullah put up his daughter-in-law Nikhat Parveen as the candidate while Mohammad Sohrab put up his wife Sultana Parveen to oppose her. While Ghulam Ahmad had put up his wife Asgari for the post of Panchayat Samiti member. Both Sohrab and Minnatullah had made preparations for booth capturing and so they were armed to the teeth on polling day. Noor Alam on the other hand had eaten his lunch and gone to the polling booth casually to see what was going on when the fight erupted and he was shot in the crossfire between the two groups.

The administration had been lax in its security preparations. Given the fact that there was enmity between the two groups and both were armed there should have been better provision of armed force to prevent such a clash. Officers were present at the polling booth yet they intervened only after the murder of Noor Alam. Even though the Superintendent of Police visited the site immediately and the houses of the accused were raided the next day there were no arrests for some time till Minnatullah and three other accused surrendered voluntarily after four days. Four other accused were still absconding despite their property having been seized by the police.

The supporters of the accused said that it was Sohrab's group that had done the firing and Noor Alam had been killed by their bullets. Bilkis Begam the sister of Minnatullah said that during the firing all the accused were in the mosque nearby offering prayers. While those who had been praying in the mosque said that Minnatullah had finished praying and left the mosque and the firing started only a few minutes after that. Ghulam Ahmad said that Minnatullah himself had not fired but had ordered others of his group to do so. Sultana Parveen who won the elections for the post of Mukhiya defeating Minnatullah's daughter-in-law Nikhat said that he was a very bad person.

The recommendations made by the fact finding team on the basis of the above investigations were as follows -

  1. All the accused in the murder of Noor Alam should be arrested immediately.
  2. Anwari Khatun the widow of Noor Alam has five small children to look after and so she should be given the compensation according to rules and the Collector should take appropriate steps to ensure this. She should also be given a government job.
  3. An enquiry should be conducted into the expenditures and physical works conducted by the ex-Mukhiya Minnatullah in the light of the allegations being made that he had defalcated Panchayat funds.

14. Sacrificed at the Altar of Politics - Janki Devi

Four men pushed open the door of the room in which Janki Devi, the candidate for Mukhiya's post from Bairia village in Minapur Panchayat in Purnea district, was sleeping and dragged her down from her cot and then stabbed her in the back at 2 a.m. on the morning of 22nd May 2006. Hearing Janki Devi shrieking her sixteen year old daughter Kranti who was sleeping in the same room with her younger brother woke up and in the light of the lantern saw that Mohammad Hasib, the husband of the rival Mukhiya candidate Nusha Khatun, Mohammad Habib, Mohammad Jalal and Ismail Dealer had stabbed her mother and were fleeing towards the farm fields.

The alarm raised by Kranti woke up every body in the house and also the neighbours and they all came running and gathered around Janki Devi. They first took her to the village doctor who seeing that the wound was a serious one advised them to take her to the district hospital in Purnea but before that Janki Devi died. Three days before this a big rally had been taken out by Janki Devi's supporters from the Sarabjia Tola in Bairia village to other nearby villages. The Member of the Legislative Assembly and the incumbent Mukhia Mohammad Ashfaq were present in the rally. The day before on 21st May 2006 also Janki Devi and her supporters had campaigned all day in the searing heat and had gathered together at her house for dinner and discussions till late at night before turning in at 1 a.m. in the morning. Janki Devi's eldest son and some of his friends had lain down in one of the verandahs while her husband Kamal Thakur and one of the younger sons had slept in another of the verandahs. That is why Janki Devi had not bolted the door of her room and had just shut it to. Consequently the assailants had been able to quietly gain entry and murder her.

News of this ghastly incident was widely published and on reading it a fact finding team was constituted by Panchayat Prahari consisting of Beenita Meher, Anjesh Kumar and Kumar Vijay Singh which visited the area and carried out investigations. Enquiries revealed that there was a history of political rivalry between Mohammad Ashfaq of Bairia village and Mohammad Hasib of Gotefar village. Even though Hasib had been a servant of Ashfaq earlier he had managed to work his way to independence and prosperity later. So much so that he had stood for the post of Mukhiya against Ashfaq in the 2001 Panchayat elections which the latter had won. This rivalry had continued into the present elections. This time the Minapur Mukhiya seat had been declared reserved for backward caste women. Since Ashfaq was an upper caste Muslim no woman from his family could contest the elections and so he had put up Janki Devi as the proxy candidate with his support. Hasib had put up his wife Nusha Khatun.

Janki Devi's ancestor about two generations back had come as a dowry gift with a daughter-in-law who wedded into Ashfaq's ancestral family. This is a custom called "daheji nai" or the giving of a barber in dowry. Since then her family had been serving Ashfaq's family and was beholden to them. Janki Devi was quite articulate but she had had no intention of contesting the Mukhiya election. Her husband Kamal Thakur said that it was because Ashfaq had said so that Janki had filed her nomination papers. Thus doubts were raised by villagers as to why Mohammad Hasib would murder Janki when he had no enmity with her or her family. However, Kamal Thakur said that before the murder Hasib and his supporters had issued threats to them quite a few times. The Thakur family and their supporters alleged that Hasib and co-accused Habib were powerful mafia kind of people. Another accused in this case Ismail Dealer was in fact a dealer of the government public distribution system for food grains. Janki Devi's supporters said that Ismail had been implicated in a case of malfeasance with regard to the dealership which was still pending in court. Thus Janki Devi's supporters made out a case that Hasib and his accomplices were hardened criminals and had killed Janki Devi to ensure a smooth victory for his wife Nusha.

The people of Gotefar on the other hand alleged that Ashfaq was a powerful upper caste man and it was he who had implicated Hasib and his supporters falsely in the murder case. They said that Ashfaq had had Janki Devi killed by his own men and then forced her family to falsely name Hasib and his supporters as the accused. They also doubted that Hasib and the other accused could have gone to Bairia from Gotefar and entered Janki's house undetected, murdered her and then escaped without being apprehended. Moreover there are discrepancies between the statements of Janki's daughter Kranti and her son Shyam. While Shyam said that the lantern had been put off before going to sleep because there was enough moonlight, Kranti on the other hand had stated that the lantern had been kept on. Thus there was a considerable amount of confusion as to what exactly had happened and the Superintendent of Police in Purnea too did not deny the possibility of someone else having committed the murder and then falsely implicated Hasib and his supporters.

The role of the local police too was suspect. The Deputy Superintendent of Police said that he had visited the scene of the crime in the morning whereas Janki's son Shyam said that they had gone to the DSP's house to inform him of the incident. Arvind Kumar the Station Officer at the Baysi Police Station was highly uncooperative with the fact finding team and refused to given them any information and also denied that he was conducting the investigation. Ashfaq alleged that the police had taken a hefty bribe from Hasib and were deliberately shielding the other accused instead of arresting them.

Overall the case is a mysterious one and requires a much more thorough and independent enquiry by the police into the reasons for the murder and the correct identity of the murderers. It became clear, however, that Janki Devi had lost her life because of enmity between others. The recommendations made by the fact finding team were as follows -

  1. An unbiased enquiry be conducted into the case and the true culprits of Janki Devi's murder should be identified and arrested.
  2. The family of the deceased should be given compensation in accordance with the rules in this regard made by the Home Ministry.

15. Suffering Quintessential Patriarchal Oppression - Rinku Devi

Vinod Paswan the candidate for the post of Ward Panch from Susta Mohammadpur village in Rampur Krishna Panchayat in Muzaffarpur came to his rival candidate Rinku Devi's house and caught hold of her hair while she was cooking in the kitchen and then dragged her out to near a banyan tree on the morning of 6th May 2006. He had already had another round of arguments with Rinku Devi earlier when he had told her that as a woman she had no business contesting elections which was a man's job. Rinku had then replied that he was illiterate and so unfit for the post while she was educated and so had every right to contest. After this Vinod had gone away abusing Rinku Devi only to come back along with his associates Sanjay Paswan, Arvind Paswan, Ramnath Paswan, Kiran Devi and Devkala Devi.

All these people then began abusing and beating Rinku. Vinod began to kick her on her stomach and urged the others to do so also saying that she was pregnant and so kicking her on the stomach would definitely kill her. Rinku's mother-in-law Mahapati Devi and sister-in-law Gudia then began shouting and this brought the neighbours to their house on which the assailants ran away. Mahapati Devi then with the help of her daughter somehow brought the badly injured Rinku back from the banyan tree into the house and the informed her son and Rinku's husband Dinesh Paswan. Dinesh then arranged for a hand cart and took her on it to the referral hospital at Sakra. Rinku was admitted to the hospital at 12.30 pm and the FIR was lodged at the nearby Police Station at 1.30 pm in the afternoon.

Rinku Devi had to bear misbehaviour from the nurse Mala Nirali in the hospital also. The nurse offered to arrange for the medical report to be made in such a manner that her police case against her assailants would become stronger for a bribe of Rs 1000. Rinku told this to the members of her Self Help Group who had come to visit her in the hospital after learning of her chastisement by Vinod. These members then went and accosted the nurse and this led to an altercation between the SHG worker Manoj Kumar and other members with the nurse. The nurse threatened to call in the police and get Manoj arrested for beating her up but somehow things cooled down after that and the SHG members all left.

The nurse came back on duty in the evening and began abusing Rinku saying that she had got her insulted by the SHG members and so she was going to kill her and began pressing her throat. Rinku began shouting and her children began crying and this brought Dinesh who was outside running to her aid and he somehow managed to pacify the nurse. Immediately after this Dinesh left with Rinku and took her to her father's home in Bhasunda village and returned only after she had recuperated. Rinku complained to the Block Development Officer about the incident with the nurse in the hospital but no action was taken against her.

A fact finding team was constituted by Panchayat Prahari to go into the matter after news reports were published in the press. The team comprised by Akhtari Begam, Shahina Parveen, Ramlakhendra a worker of Ekta Parishad and Vinod Kumar a worker of Kanchan Seva Ashram Muzaffarpur toured the area and made enquiries. These revealed that on 23rd March 2006 Rinku Devi had filed her nomination papers for the post of Ward Panch after holding a meeting with the members of her Self Help Group and some other villagers. Once the SHG members had decided on her candidature Rinku asked her husband Dinesh whether she should go ahead or not. Dinesh suggested that they should first take the permission of the eldest person in their family and society Ashesar Paswan who was a distant grand uncle of his. One day before filing the nomination they went to meet Ashesar and he readily gave his consent and also said that he would support them.

Then on the last day for the filing of nominations suddenly their neighbour Vinod Paswan also filed his papers thus making the contest a triangular one. Rinku said that after her meeting with Ashesar the latter had a meeting with his grandson Pappu and after that Vinod also filed his nomination papers. Immediately after this Vinod began pressurising Rinku to withdraw from the contest. He began abusing Rinku and spreading bad rumours about her. Wherever Rinku would go for campaigning she would be followed by Vinod who would then tell the people that they should not vote for her as she was a cheat. He would also cast doubts on her character.

The villagers said that Rinku Devi was an active member of the SHG and was involved in going from village to village in forming and managing other SHGs. This had not gone down well with other men and women in this Dalit majority village. Vinod Paswan is close to the Mukhiya of Rampur Krishna Panchayat Virendra Thakur who maintains his influence over this village through Vinod. So Vinod and his supporters did not like the fact that a woman had begun to assert herself and had begun to abuse her. Rinku too was not to be cowed down and returned these abuses in like manner. This is what had led to the dispute and beating up of Rinku. While Rinku's father-in-law Baidnath Paswan denied that there was any land related dispute between the two families his sister-in-law said that Dinesh's house constructed under the Indira Awaas Scheme had encroached on land belonging to Vinod and this was a bone of contention between the two families.

The case was being investigated by the Sub-Inspector R. K. Singh of Sakra Police Station and he said that he had recorded the statement of Rinku Devi in the Sakra Hospital at 1.30 pm on the 6th of May and had gone to the village Mohammadpur next day to arrest the six accused including Vinod Paswan. However, he had not been able to arrest anyone as all the accused were absconding. The Sub-Inspector also said that he had not received any complaint regarding the threats given by the nurse Mala Nirali to Rinku Devi and this was a matter for the Doctor to look into. The ground situation was that Vinod and the other accused were moving about freely in the village and were continually threatening Rinku with murder and she felt isolated in her own home surrounded by these inimical people. There was also a possibility that there would be widespread irregularities during the elections.

The fact finding team made the following recommendations -

  1. All the polling booths in Susta Mohammadpur Buzurg village in Rampur Krishna Panchayat in Sakra Block should be declared extra-sensitive by the SEC.
  2. An independent enquiry should be conducted into the case by a higher level police officer and all the accused arrested immediately.
  3. Action should be taken against the nurse Mala Nirali of the Referral Hospital in Sakra for having abused and tried to strangle Rinku Devi.

16. Proving the Nemesis of a Mafia Don - Kari Devi

Kari Devi, the candidate for Mukhiya's post from Saidpur village in Vadaravad Panchayat in Nalanda district, was about to close the door of her house and turn in for the night at 9.30 p.m. on 23rd May 2006 when the incumbent Mukhiya Kaushalendra Prasad arrived along whith is brother Vijay Prasad, nephew Rakesh Kumar and father Rameshwar Prasad armed with rifles and began pressurising her to withdraw her nomination. When Kari Devi refused the assailants shouted that they would kill her and they fired three rounds from their rifles. Kari Devi began bleeding from her head and she fell down on the ground.

The villagers were taking Kari Devi, whose husband Baby Prasad was employed in Gomoh in Jharkhand, to the hospital in Ekangrasrai when they met a Police team in Ekangardihi and the Station Officer took Kari Devi's statement there and had her admitted in the hospital in Ekangrasrai. Kari Devi remained in the hospital for three days and then returned only to be threatened once again by Kaushalendra who said that the Station Officer listened to him only and not to her. Nobody could arrest him he claimed.

News of this incident was published in the press and thereafter a fact finding team was constituted by Panchayat Prahari consisting of Pramod Kumar Singh, Venkatesh Sharma and Surendra Kumar to enquire into the prevailing situation. The enquiries revealed that Kaushalendra Prasad was a member of the Rashtriya Janata Dal and used the power of money and influence to control the local administration and run his own fiat over the village of Saidpur. The villagers said that after the seat had been declared as reserved for women he had put up his wife as the Mukhiya candidate to continue in power and he feared that Kari Devi's candidacy would spoil his wife's chances of winning and so he had been threatening her and had finally carried out a murderous attack on her.On condition of anonymity the villagers said that during the previous Panchayat elections in 2001 Kaushalendra Prasad and his supporters had attacked and fired on his rival candidate Rajendra Prasad and other voters at the time of polling in booth numbers 6,7 and 8 situated in the primary school building in Saidpur. Thus by capturing these booths Kaushalendra had won the election for the Mukhiya post. A police case number102/2001 filed under sections 341, 323, 307 and 34 of the IPC, 27 of Arms Act and 131 & 136 of R. P. Act was filed against Kaushalendra on that occasion. The villagers also said that Kaushalendra in collusion with the local administration gets all the polling booths of nearby village situated in Saidpur itself and then by capturing them succeeds in winning the elections. In this election also he had got the District Collector to assign all the polling booths of Vadaravad Panchayat to Saidpur village with the intention of repeating the 2001 scenario.

The polling booth number 93 of ward number 7 meant for Jahanchak and Chakakil villages had been transferred to the primary school at Saidpur despite the fact that the Block Welfare officer, the Block Development Officer and the Subdivisional Officer had recommended in January 2006 itself that the polling booth for these villages should be situated at the primary school at Muftiganj village which was just half a kilometer away. Saidpur being three kilometers away most of the villagers from Jahanchak and Chakakil would not come to vote there and so Kaushalendra would get ample opportunity for false voting. Similarly the Scheduled Caste voters of Rasalpur village would have to vote in booth number 91 in the primary school in Bhanu Vigha, which is a Yadav stronghold, despite there being a middle school building in Rasalpur itself. In the last election in 2001 Kaushalendra had fired on the dalits and prevented them from voting and he planned to do so again in 2006. Despite a demand from the dalits of Rasalpur for the establishment of a polling booth there and a recommendation to this effect by the Block officers and the Subdivisional officer this demand had not been met. The villagers also presented documentary evidence to show that the polling booth number 92 in Saidpur for the villages of Injorah Vigha and Todal Vigha had been set up disregarding the recommendations of the Block officers and the Subdivisional officer for setting up a mobile booth on the government owned plot number 22 of survey number 29 in Injorah Vigha village after directions were received from the State Election Commission. A Block level officer also said that a large section of the dalits of Rasalpur would have to go to the booth number 88 in the middle school in Oriyama village for voting because Kaushalendra Prasad had connived to get this done with the help of the District Collector.

Thus it was quite clear that the public complaints made to the State Election Commission regarding the wrong selection of places for polling booths had been found to be correct by the official enquiry team consisting of the Block Welfare Officer and Block Development Officer of Ekangrasrai and the Subdivisional Officer of Hilsa and they had submitted a report dated 11.02.06 confirming this. Subsequently the secretary of the State Election Commission in a letter numbered ??. ??. 30-109/06-1096/??.??;?. dated 09.03.06 had directed the Collector and District Election Officer of Nalanda to send an action taken report regarding the recommendations made by the official review team. However the Collector did not take any action and did not file any reply to this directive and instead kept the wrong allotment of polling booths as before. A further letter numbered ??. ??. 30-109/06-2363/??.??;?. dated 15.04.06 was also sent by the secretary of the State Election Commission to the Collector for an immediate report on action taken regarding the wrong situation of the booths of ward numbers 5, 6 and 7 of Vadaravad Panchayat but once again he ignored this directive and kept the booths allotted as before to favour Kaushalendra. The villagers said that this support from the Collector had made Kaushalendra fearless and so he had undertaken the murderous attack on Kari Devi.

The team could not meet Kaushalendra or any other of his male supporters. His mother Samkuli Devi said that at the time when the firing took place at Kari Devi's house her sons Kaushalendra Prasad and Vijay Prasad were on the roof of their own house and they had fired in the air and so were not guilty of any crime. When the team met the Station Officer of Ekangrasrai Police Station and asked him about his inability to arrest Kaushalendra and the other accused and also whether they had licenses for the firearms they so freely used then he avoided answering them by saying that such information could be given only by the Subdivisional Police Officer. Even though Kari Devi did not win she was able to draw away enough votes from Kaushalendra's wife so that a third candidate won. The presence of armed personnel on polling day as all the booths were declared extra-sensitive prevented Kaushalendra from rigging the elections. The recommendations made by the team were -

  1. All the accused in the murderous attack on Kari Devi should be arrested immediately and the Ekangrasrai Station Officer Sunil Kumar should be transferred.
  2. The State Election Commission should enquire into the negligence of the District Collector of Nalanda in not reallotting the booths in Vadaravad Panchayat and take appropriate action against him for disregarding its directives.

17. Triumphing against Injustice - Sitasati Devi

Basudev Sau a supporter of Sitasati Devi, the candidate for the post of Mukhiya from Usfa village in Usfa Panchayat of district Patna, was beaten up and just escaped being kidnapped by the supporters of Radha Devi her rival candidate. This was only one in a long series of incidents of threats to kill and beatings indulged in by Radha Devi's brother-in-law the incumbent Mukhiya Rajnath Tiwari and his supporters. Acting on newspaper reports of the tension prevailing in the area due to the criminal activities of Rajnath Tiwari a fact finding team was constituted by Panchayat Prahari consisting of Shahina Parveen and Anjesh Kumar to carry out an investigation into the incidents.

The villagers said that the 65 year old Trigunanand Arya was well known as a social worker and ex-Mukhiya. He had done considerable work for the development of the village and so was liked much more than the incumbent Mukhiya Rajnath Tiwari. That is why when the Mukhiya seat for the Panchayat was declared reserved for women it was the people of the village who had got his wife Sitasati to file her nomination for the post. However, the economic condition of the Aryas was not good and so the villagers had contributed towards the cost of Sitasati's election campaign. They were also actively involved in voluntarily mustering support for her.

This groundswell of support for Sitasati had unnerved Rajnath who is an active member of the Rashtriya Janata Dal and so he instigated his supporters to continually harass Sitasati's supporters. Sitasati had a long standing dispute with the illegal toddy seller Birja Choudhury. Birja had encroached upon Sitasati's land and for the last ten years a battle was going on over this. With the support of Rajnath and other powerful people of the area Birja had remained illegally in possession of this land. According to Sachhidanand, a supporter of Sitasati, ever since the filing of nominations for the elections Birja had been continually threatening Sitasati and her supporters after being encouraged to do so by Rajnath.

Sitasati said that the Station Officer of Gourichak Police Station too was siding with Rajnath and Birja. She had made innumerable written complaints to him about the illegal encroachment on her land by Birja but no action had been taken. Consequently when the threats of murder from Birja became very serious Trigunanand had gone to Phatuan and complained in writing to the Deputy Superintendent of Police. Nevertheless no action was taken against Birja and Rajnath.

When the team members visited the Gourichak Police station they found the Station Officer sitting bare bodied with his feet on the table. On hearing Trigunanand's name he knitted his brows and said that he was "Durgandhanand" and engaged in needlessly spoiling the peaceful environment of the village. According to the Station Officer it was Trigunanand who was the anti-social element.

Sitasati Devi won the elections as they were held in a free and fair manner after the State Election Commission declared the constituency to be extra-sensitive on the recommendation of the fact finding team which found that there was considerable substance in her accusations. The other recommendations made by the team were -

  1. The administration should take appropriate action to free the illegal encroachment by Birja Choudhury on Sitasati Devi's land.
  2. The administration should take an initiative in creating an atmosphere that is favourable for a woman Mukhiya to carry out her public responsibilities.
  3. An enquiry should be instituted into the behaviour and actions of the Officer in Charge of Gourichak Police Station which were unbefitting of his post and action should be taken against him.

18. Devastated by Male Chauvinism - Abha Devi

When Poonam Devi the sister-in-law of Abha Devi the candidate for Mukhiya's post from Manpur village in Belsar Panchayat of Vaishali district came home from the counting centre on 16th June 2006 at 1.30 p.m she was accosted by her neighbour Sita Devi who began abusing her in foul language. This led to an altercation between the two and suddenly others from Sita Devi's family led by the ex-Mukhiya Munna Thakur also returned home and began abusing Poonam and searching for Abha. They began breaking things around their house and shouting that because of them they had lost the elections. Poonam then came out of her room and began berating them for breaking things in the house and at once Munna Thakur shouted to the others that they should strip Poonam and parade her naked in the village. Then Munna along with Pintu Thakur, Chunnu Thakur, Mukesh Thakur, Alok Thakur and others got hold of her and hair and stripped her of her sari. They also tore her petticoat and blouse. She somehow escaped from them and went and hid under the cot in her room. However, the assailants dragged her out from underneath the cot and beat her up and attempted to rape her.

About this time Abha Devi also came back from the counting centre and found that Munna and Pintu Thakur were in Poonam's room and they were abusing her at the top of their voices. The rest of the people were standing in the courtyard and shouting. On seeing Abha they rushed to her and caught hold of her but some other people managed to free her from their clutches and lock her up in another room from where she continued to shout for help. The assailants then dragged Poonam out of her room and beat her up mercilessly. Her husband Ajay Thakur was still at the counting centre and Abha's husband Ranjit Kesri was in Assam where he was employed. So finally other people from the village came to her rescue and freed Poonam from the assailants and then she along with Abha fled from the village. When they tried to run to the Police Station Munna and Pintu once again caught hold of Poonam but she managed to escape.

The incident was graphically described in press reports and so a fact finding team was constituted by Panchayat Prahari consisting of Shahina Parveen, Anjesh Kumar and Kumar Vijay Singh to investigate matters. Enquiries revealed that Sanjay Kumar Thakur alias Munna Thakur who had been the Mukhiya after winning the elections in 2001 was a powerful criminal of the area who had many cases registered against him including that of the murder of a person in Belsar in 1989. He had used force to win the 2001 elections. His cousin Chunnu Thakur's wife Sita Devi who had contested and lost the elections for the post of Sarpanch was the sister of Munna Shukla the powerful Janata Dal (U) legislator from the Lalganj constituency of which Belsar Panchayat is a part.

Thus Munna and his associates had considerable political clout and they used this to influence the police and the administration and prevent them from taking action against their illegal activities. So powerful was Munna Thakur who was away in Muzaffarpur when the fact finding team reached his house that his family members informed him on the phone and he ordered the head constable of the Police Station at Belsar to investigate as to who had come to his house. Everybody knew of the incident of the stripping and attempted rape of Poonam Devi but such was the terror of Munna Thakur that no one was prepared to talk much about it. Shankar Prasad, the father-in-law of the newly elected Mukhiya of Belsar, Sangita Devi, confirmed that fear had sealed everyone's lips.

Things were soured for Munna when the Belsar Panchayat Mukhiya's seat was declared reserved for women for the 2006 elections. Munna put up his wife Munni Devi as a candidate for the Mukhiya's post. Matters were compounded further, however, when his relative Abha Devi decided to contest the post of Mukhiya also being encouraged to do so by her brother-in-law Ajay and his wife Poonam. By 1 p.m. on the 16th of May 2006, it had become clear that both Abha and Munni were going to lose the election to Sangita and Sita also would lose in her contest for the Sarpanch seat. This is what led to the explosion of anger on the part of Munna and Chunnu Thakur as they felt that the split in the family caused by Abha standing for election had led to their defeat. There was a land dispute between the two families but according to Abha it was not so serious as to warrant such an attack on Poonam and this scandalous incident had occurred solely because of the rivalry in the Mukhiya elections which had led to the defeat of Munni Devi.

On being quizzed about the physical beating and attempted rape Poonam remained silent about whether she had actually been raped or not. Abha said that Poonam had not revealed to her also whether she had been raped or not. However, from the fact that she had bled from her vagina for quite some time after the incident Abha conjectured that most probably Poonam had been raped. However, they had not alleged this in the FIR and nor had any medical examination been carried out to confirm this.

The attitude of Vinod Peter the Station Officer of Belsar Police Station was negative all through. Poonam Devi said that he refused to lodge an FIR against Munna and his associates when she reached the Belsar Police Station along with Abha and her husband Ajay saying that he would go and first see what had happened. When they returned to Manpur and were preparing to go in a jeep to Hajipur for the treatment of Poonam they saw that Vinod Peter had come to their house to investigate and so they once again beseeched him to lodge an FIR but once again he told them to first go and get treatment for Poonam. They then went to Hajipur and when Poonam had recovered a little they went to the Town Police Station and registered an FIR there. Poonam also met the Superintendent of Police and he assured her of taking action. However, according to Hemnarayan Thakur the father of Munna when the Superintendent phoned Vinod Peter and asked him about the incident he was sitting in their house and replied that there was nothing serious as it was only a tiff between women. Hemnarayan also said that Sita Devi had filed a case against Abha's wife Ranjit Kesri in the Lalganj Police Station. This was totally false because Ranjit had arrived from Assam only two days after the incident as was proved by his rail ticket. Eventually nothing came of these cases because Abha and Poonam succumbed to the pressure being brought on them by Munna and Chunnu and migrated with their husbands to Guahati in Assam.

The recommendations that were made by the fact finding team were -

  1. All those accused of beating up and attempting to rape Poonam Devi should be arrested immediately.
  2. The Officer in Charge of Belsar Police Station had behaved in a manner partial to Munna Thakur and shielded him and so an enquiry should be launched against him pending which he should be suspended.
  3. Given the serious mental and physical condition of Poonam Devi steps should be taken to approach the National Human Rights Commission and the National Women;s Commission to gain relief for her.

19. Victim of Family Rivalry - Kiran Devi

Sanjay Kumar Yadav the husband of Kiran Devi the Sarpanch candidate from Meghanbigha village in Bara Panchayat in Gaya district was shot through his head while asleep at 3 o'clock in the morning on 11th June 2006. Sanjay along with the rest of his family and other guests were sleeping on the roof of their house as it was very hot. Sanjay's brother Vijay Kumar woke up to see that his cousin Ramsevak Yadav had a rifle in his hand and he jumped down from the roof to join his uncle Dhanu Yadav and Narayan Yadav who were standing there and they then ran away. Vijay Yadav wanted to jump down and run after them but was restrained by the rest of his family who feared that the armed assailants would kill him too.

His family then took the severely bleeding Sanjay in a vehicle to Gaya but he died on the way. So they went to the Magadh Vishwa Vidyalaya Police Station instead and filed an FIR naming Ramsevak Yadav, Dhanu Yadav and Narayan Yadav as the murderers of Sanjay. Thereafter Sanjay's body was sent to the Magadh Medical College in Gaya for post mortem and he was cremated at 6.30 p.m. in the evening. Reading news reports of the incident Panchayat Prahari constituted a fact finding team consisting of Shahina Parveen, Anjesh Kumar, Kumar Vijay Singh and Kapil Kumar to investigate into the incident.

Kiran Devi said that 11th June 2006 was to be the day for casting of ballots and so they had spent the whole of the day before preparing for it as they were confident of victory. Many guests had come from other villages and they had all been sleeping on the roof of the house with the women and children on the left side and the men on the right side. Everyone was in light sleep because of the expectation of the coming day and so when her husband was shot they immediately woke up and could see the assailants before they could make good their escape. She said that she would surely have won the elections had it not been for this fatal mishap which resulted in their not being able to attend the polling booth at all. Kiran Devi's father-in-law Kailash said that he had a long standing dispute with his brother Dhanu and distant cousin Narayan over a piece of his farm land which they had encroached upon and were cultivating for quite some time. Their had been battles between the two families over this land before and Dhanu and his family had threatened to kill Kailash and his sons a few times, however, they had not taken these threats seriously. Kiran Devi said that due to this enmity Dhanu and his family had sided with Nazima Khatun her rival in the Sarpanch elections to prevent her from winning.

The villagers were generally reluctant to say anything but from what little they said it was revealed that Sanjay Kumar had been implicated once in a case of loot in Dobhi Police Station nearby and he had toured the whole village on the 10th of June 2006 with his gun to try and intimidate people into voting for his wife Kiran. There were a lot of people in Sanjay's house on that day ostensibly brought to aid him in capturing the polling booth the next day and they had been up till late at night eating and talking. After the gun shot early in the morning there had not been any commotion. It was only about half an hour later that Sanjay's family members started shouting and blaming Dhanu and his family members. Moreover, the main iron front door of the house was locked from inside as also the inner wooden door and the door to the staircase. Vijay Kumar had said that Ramsevak had climbed up the side wall of the house onto the roof and then killed Sanjay with his rifle. However, this was an extremely risky thing to do given the presence of so many people and very unlikely. Consequently the general opinion in the village was that there either had been an internal fight within the family resulting in one of them killing Sanjay or the revolver had gone off accidentally and the bullet had entered his head from behind his ear. Some villagers even said that there was an illicit relationship between Kiran Devi and Vijay Kumar. Even though Vijay had been married recently he did not like his wife and was instead enamoured of Kiran who was good looking and young. Thus according to these villagers there was also a possibility of Vijay having killed Sanjay.

The Deputy Superintendent of Police visited the village after nine days on 20th June 2006 and submitted a supervision report in which he recommended immediate arrest of the three accused in the case. The Station Officer of Vishwavidyalaya Police Station R. K. Sharma said that after this he had raided the houses of the accused but they had avoided arrest and were absconding. The Superintendent of Police in Gaya said that in such suspicious cases it took some time to find out the truth but since the DSP had found the accusations made by the complainants to be well founded action would be taken sooner or later and the offenders arrested. The policemen of the Vishwa Vidyalaya Police Station, however, were of the same opinion as the villagers that the story of Kiran Devi and her family had many holes in it.

The fact finding team made the following recommendations -

  1. An independent enquiry should be instituted into the whole incident so as to be able to identify the real culprits of this murder and action should be taken against them.
  2. Appropriate compensation should be given to the family of the deceased Sanjay Kumar and his wife Kiran Devi should be given a government job.

20. A Mysterious Bereavement - Zarina Khatun

The River Falgu near Gaya which is famous for being the site where Hindus from all over India pray for the peace of their dead became the site of a sensational scene on the 24th of May 2006 when the body of a youth was found dumped in its sands. The youth had his head buried in the sand and his genitals were badly disfigured and it looked as if he had been killed by stabbing in his private parts. Nobody had any clue as to the identity of the murdered youth till about 10 a.m. when Sonu the son of Zarina Khatun, the candidate for the post of Mukhiya from Jagdishpur Abgila village in Nauranga Panchayat nearby, happened to pass by the mass of people gathered around the scene on his way to work. When he heard that the crowd had gathered around the body of an unidentified youth who had been murdered he went to see out of curiousity and recognised it to be that of his brother Chhotu alias Irfan Khan who had been missing since morning. Sonu immediately informed his family members and they came running to the spot. Zarina's eldest son loged an FIR number 430/06 in Kotwali Police Station but he did not name any accused.

A fact finding team was constituted by Panchayat Prahari after the news of this sensational murder was published in the newspapers consisting of Shahina Parveen, Anjesh Kumar, Kumar Vijay Singh and Kapil. Enquiries revealed that the twenty-five year old Irfan had had his dinner on the 23rd of May 2006 and then gone to sleep in a neighbour's house at 9 p.m. Due to lack of space in his own home Irfan had been sleeping in the neighbour Ashraf Imam's house for the past few days. When he did not return in the morning even after 7 a.m. then his family members became worried. Zarina went to the houses of all their neighbours and relatives nearby searching for Irfan but he was not to be found anywhere. Then Chhotu Kureshi the only friend of Irfan came searching for him and when asked he said that Irfan had been with him till 8 p.m. the night before. After that Chhotu had gone to offer namaz and he did not know where Irfan had gone after that. Chhotu said that he too had been searching for Irfan since the morning to to the Mela or fair.

Zarina said that none of her family including Irfan had any enmity with anyone. Irfan had only one friend Chhotu and he did not have any bad habits and did not keep wrong company. However, Rizwan said that after his mother filed her nomination papers for the Mukhiya post Mohammad Akhtar, the husband of her election rival Nazma Khatun, had been threatening them. Akhtar had told Zarina's younger son Rehan that if they did not listen to him and withdraw her candidature then the consequences would be very serious. There were seventeen candidates for the post of Mukhiya in Nauranga Panchayat and two of them were from Jagdishpur. So Akhtar wanted Zarina to withdraw to prevent the division of votes. Akhtar offered Zarina Rupees fifty thousand as a bribe but Zarina refused. On this Akhtar asked Zarina to give him the same amount and he would then withdraw the candidature of his wife. Zarina, however, said that they were barely able to defray their living expenses and it was not possible for them to give him so much money.

Irfan's family members had some suspicion on a tailor in Gaya also. Irfan had gone to the tailoring shop Bodyline Tailors at 9 p.m. on the night of the 23rd of May 2006 to ask the proprietor Mohammad Nayyar to pay him back the money that he had lent him. Nayyar initially said that since his worker Nasim was closing the shop at that time he had asked Irfan to come in the morning. However, when the fact finding team wanted to question Nasim also then Nayyar made some excuse and did not allow this. But Rizwan did not think that this was such a serious matter as the amount of money involved was little and dismissed the idea that Nayyar may be involved in the crime.

Chhotu Qureshi, the only friend of Irfan's, had refused to say anything much after his murder even though he knew the most about Irfan's daily routine. Chhotu's sister-in-law was a candidate for the Ward Panch's post and his family had very cordial relations with that of Mohammad Akhtar. The villagers said that Chhotu's elder sister-in-law Gudia Khatun was a widow and there was a relationship between the young Gudia and the deceased Irfan. Zarina's husband Sultan Khan said that ever since she had been widowed Gudia had frequently come to their house and Irfan too had gone to theirs. On many occasions when Gudia had any problems with her in-laws she would come to Zarina for help. Chhotu's family too knew of this and did not object. A few days before Irfan's murder Gudia had gone to her parent's home in Jehanabad for an appendix operation. Given the fact that Irfan's genitals had been badly damaged there was a possibility that the cause of murder could be an illicit love relationship.

The Station Officer of the Kotwali Police Station said that neither Rizwan nor Zarina had named any accused and so the investigations were progressing at a slow pace and the police were looking at both the election rivalry and love tangle for possible clues to the murderer. The recommendations of the fact finding team were -

  1. An independent enquiry be conducted into the matter and the true culprits identified and arrested.
  2. A compensation of Rs 50000 be paid to the family of the deceased Irfan.