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“Direct Encounter on the Forehead” – Eyewitness Account of Police Shooting in Bihar’s Katihar

tanzil asif Reported By Tanzil Asif |
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A ‘Jan Aakrosh rally’ and protest against the inadequate electricity supply in the Barsoi subdivision of Katihar, Bihar, turned tragic on July 26th. What initially started as a peaceful demonstration quickly spiraled into an outrage rally, resulting in two local youths losing their lives due to police firing, while another is currently undergoing treatment in Siliguri.

The victims have been identified as Khurshid Alam and Sonu Kumar.

Grief-Stricken Mother’s Plea

Khurshid Alam, aged 22, supported his family by working as an auto driver. His mother lamented the loss, as she had already lost two of her sons in a road accident a few years ago. She tearfully questioned who would take care of her in her old age and why her child was shot by the police.

“What is left of me in the world? Who will take care of me? Who will support me in the last days? Why did they shoot my child?”, she asked.

Khurshid’s father, Musiur Rahman, a farmer from Basalgaon Panchayat, shared that Khurshid had attended the rally hoping for a resolution to the power problem. However, tragedy struck when the police opened fire, leaving him dead.

“Everyone went to the rally thinking something good will come out of it. But, he was shot dead,” says Khurshid’s father Musiur Rahman.

Brother’s Heroic Effort

Sonu Kumar, the middle brother in his family, rushed to the scene upon hearing about the chaos in the demonstration. His intention was to rescue his elder brother, Monu, who had recently started working in the electricity department. Sadly, Sonu never made it back home as he also fell victim to the police’s gunfire.

“I am working as a Suvidha agent in the electricity office. During the protest, public anger spread and the crowd came towards the office and started vandalising it and started throwing stones. I called my brother, he came to save me. Meanwhile, police force came after several calls. The police opened fire and my brother got shot,” explains Monu Kumar.

Questioning the Use of Direct Firing

Various voices from eyewitnesses to local representatives, including MLA Mahboob Alam, questioned the administration’s decision to resort to direct firing instead of using less lethal methods like lathicharge, tear gas, or water cannons to control the crowd.

“Such firing should not have been done. They encountered him, shot him directly on his forehead. He was not a criminal or terrorist”, Monu Kumar said.

Local MLA Mahboob Alam asked, “What is the justification for direct firing instead of using lathicharge, tear gas, water cannon, which are the initial method of stopping the crowd?”

The Faces Behind the Rally

The protest organizers, including members of the Mukhiya Sangh and public representatives of the Nagar Panchayat, had sought permission from the Barsoi subdivision office for the peaceful protest and the letter attached to it has the signatures of eight people.

Among them, Imadpur panchayat mukhiya Er. Moazzam Hussain, Barsoi Nagar Panchayat Chief Councillor’s son Rinku Singh, Deputy Chief Councillor Pramod Kumar Sah, Ekshalla panchayat mukhiya Radhakant Ghosh, Belwa panchayat mukhiya‘s husband Abdul Wadud, Mohd. Shahnawaz and Mohd. Muzaffar Hussain is included.

Moazzam Hussain has formed an organization named ‘The Barsoi Association’ a few days ago. He has been vocal about the electricity problem in the area. ‘Main Media’ spoke to Moazzam Hussain over phone. He told us that at present he is getting the injured treated in the incident, so he is not in the area.

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Among the demands from the deceased youths’ relatives and local leaders are compensation ranging from Rs 20 to 50 lakh, job for one family member, and actions against the Katihar District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police.

Katihar SP Jitendra Kumar assured that a thorough investigation is underway, and those responsible for the tragedy will not escape justice. The police are examining CCTV footage and other video evidence to establish the sequence of events.

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Tanzil Asif is a multimedia journalist-cum-entrepreneur. He is the founder and the CEO of Main Media. He occasionally writes stories from Seemanchal for other publications as well. Hence, he has bylines in The Wire, The Quint, Outlook Magazine, Two Circles, the Milli Gazette etc. Tanzil is one of six Indian journalists selected by YouTube in 2021 for its Creator Program for Independent Journalists. He is also a Josh Talks speaker, an Engineer and a part-time poet.

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