Patna Waterlogging: Dengue Death Causes Panic, Ink Thrown at Union Minister


Patna: With the death of a 7-year-old child due to dengue and a BJP MLA testing dengue positive, panic regarding a dengue outbreak among residents of Patna has increased. This is the first reported dengue death following the worst waterlogging incident in Bihar’s capital city after heavy rains.

Abhinav Kumar, son of a Bihar police constable, died in a hospital on Monday (October 14) night. He was suffering from dengue fever for the last few days.

Sanjeev Chourasia, BJP MLA from Digha Assembly seat in Patna, has also been tested dengue positive. Besides, over one dozen police officials are undergoing treatment after being affected by dengue fever.

According to health department officials, dengue has spread to new residential localities in Patna in the last two days as fresh dengue cases are being reported from there. Till Tuesday morning, the number of dengue positive cases in Patna alone stood at 1,195, while the total number of dengue cases reported in the state was over 1,500.

In Patna, more than 80 dengue patients are undergoing treatment in the government-run Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH), Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS) and different private hospitals.

The rising number of dengue cases has left the residents of Patna—who were already angry with waterlogging for days—infuriated with the administration and political leaders. On Tuesday, a youth threw ink at Union Minister Aswani Kumar Choubey during his visit to the dengue ward in PMCH. The youth fled from the scene afterwards.

The accused youth has reportedly identified himself as Nishant Kumar Jha, a youth activist of Jan Adhikar Party (JAP). He said that this was his way of protesting against the NDA government in state and at the centre for neglecting waterlogged victims in Patna for days.

Several people have expressed unhappiness by blaming government agencies for negligence and have demanded that urgent steps be taken to ensure regular fogging and spraying of bleaching and lime powder as well as speeding up of the cleanliness drive.

District officials said dengue is spreading fast among the waterlogged victims in the worst waterlogged residential localities here after water receded. Waterlogging is main cause of spread of dengue in the city.

What has become a bigger worry for health officials is that waterlogging still remains a problem in certain residential areas. Health officials said that water logging help these vector-borne diseases to spread faster due to increased mosquito breeding. Another disturbing fact is that not only is dengue spreading, there are also reported cases of chikunguniya, diarrhoea and stomach upset from waterlogged areas.

Patna civil surgeon Dr R K Choudhary said arrangements have been made for dengue test in all primary health centres in view of increasing dengue cases after waterlogging.

According to a top health department officer, measures have been started to prevent an outbreak of diseases and teams of doctors will soon visit affected areas to provide medical treatment if needed.

Mesra student death triggers food slur


A first-year polytechnic student of BIT-Mesra, Nishant, died while being shifted from one hospital to another here on Saturday night, spurring some 50 of his classmates to block NH-33 near the campus around 11pm and hold the “substandard hostel food” responsible for the death.

The institute authorities, however, have denied the students’ allegation that hostel meals led to Nishant’s death by food poisoning.

A polytechnic student of computer science, Nishant, who hailed from Ramgarh district’s Giddi, came down with high fever in BIT-Mesra around 10 days ago. He was initially treated at the institute’s dispensary, said polytechnic director Sandeep Singh Solanki.

Solanki said they also informed Nishant’s parents, who came around eight days back and took him home.

“They kept him at home for two days,” Solanki said. “Later they shifted Nishant to a private hospital in Ramgarh named Hope Hospital, where his condition took a turn for the worse. The boy was referred to Ranchi. His father told us that Nishant was shifted to Bhagwan Mahavir Medica Superspecialty Hospital in Ranchi on Friday evening, where he stayed in the ICU for around 10 to 14 hours. As his father could not afford the expenses at Medica, and there was no sign of improvement, the family decided to shift Nishant to (state-owned) RIMS. Unfortunately, he was declared dead on arrival at RIMS on Saturday night.”

Solanki added he had no idea why a section of students were alleging that hostel food was so substandard that Nishant died of food poisoning.

“Can you believe contaminated food and drinking water will fatally affect only one student?” Solanki said.

“The rest of the students have no health complications. I don’t know why some students have made such a misleading statement. Even some newspapers carried the misleading report that painted our institute in bad light. We don’t compromise with health and education of students,” said Solanki.

Nishant’s parents were unwilling to have an autopsy performed on their son’s body, said DSP Sadar Deepak Kumar Pandey.

The DSP added that they learnt that Nishant frequently had high fever. “The theory of food poisoning doesn’t seem to be genuine under the circumstances. It may be possible that some students had a problem with the hostel canteen and food so they made it a point during the protest,” the policeman said.

He said the highway blockade lasted for some 20 minutes. “Then, students withdrew the blockade on our persuasion. We decided not to file any FIR in connection with the blockade,” the DSP said.

Asked about Nishant’s death, RIMS superintendent Dr Vivek Kashyap said: “I am not aware of the case and medical history of the boy.”

Kashyap added that post-mortem was done under certain circumstances, including when the relatives of the deceased suspect foul play and file a complaint and when the police demand autopsy, but here it did not seem to be the case.

‘Mentally unstable’ woman beaten to death in Bihar over suspicion of child-lifting


Patna: An angry mob thrashed a woman to death in Vaishali district of Bihar over suspicion of her being a child-lifter. It is being alleged that the woman is mentally unstable. The mob allegedly tied the woman to a pole in Sehdai Buzurg block of Vaishali and mercilessly thrashed her until she died, the police said on Friday. 

The woman was beaten up with sticks by locals after being tied to a pole. While angry locals beat up the woman, others played mute spectators as they watched the woman being thrashed. 

The police are suspecting that the woman lost her mental balance after her child went missing or after it died. The woman was caught by the locals when she entered one of the houses in the district while looking for her own child. 

Locals alleged that they had seen the woman in the nearby areas a few days ago. At that time, the woman was seen attending to a pile of clothes as if it were a child. According to a report, the woman does not have any recollection of how she reached Vaishali.

On the night of the incident, the woman entered one of the houses. She was telling the people residing in the house that her child had gone missing. The people living in the house allegedly presumed her to be a child-lifter and started thrashing her. Within minutes, the family’s neighbours joined and the woman was tied to a pole and beaten. 

After the woman died, the locals threw her body away from the spot. The police reached the area and recovered the body. The body has been sent for a post-mortem and efforts are being made to arrest the accused. 

This is not the first instance where people have taken the law into their hands and have lynched an innocent due to suspicion. Similar incidents have surfaced where people have thrashed women and men ruthlessly as they suspected them of being child-lifters or thieves. While these incidents are on a rise, no concrete step has been taken by the government to help these people. 

Woman thrashed by mob in MP over suspicion of child-lifting 

In July this year, another incident of mob violence came to light from Madhya Pradesh’s Sagar when a woman was beaten over suspicion of being a child-lifter. It was later alleged that the woman was mentally disturbed. The incident took place in the Cantonment area of Sagar. 

On being interrogated, the woman said that she was from Ratlam and that she did not know how she had reached Sagar. The police registered a case of assault in relation to the incident but none of the accused was arrested.

Ambala recalls Sushma Swaraj’s childhood days


In the Ambala Cantonment neighbourhood where Sushma Swaraj grew up, old-timers remember her with fondness. Right from her childhood, she was fond of taking part in debates and contests in school, those who lived close to the family home in Cantonment’s BC Bazaar area recalled. “From Class 6, she had shown an inclination towards politics and later she realised what she had aimed for,” Shyam Bihari, an elderly man who lives in the same neighbourhood, told reporters after the news of the BJP leader’s death on Tuesday night came in.

“She was very affectionate, caring and ever ready to help. To render help to any genuine person who was in need, she did not care even if he was a supporter of a rival political party,” he said. Another man, now in his 60s, recalled that Swaraj used to fetch milk for her family in the morning, around the time he and his friends played cricket in the neighbourhood. At times, the cricket ball hit would hit the pail, spilling the milk.

“But Sushmaji never got angry at us and always used to tell us to continue playing,” he said. Swaraj went to the SD College in Ambala Cantonment and later pursued a law course at the Panjab University in Chandigarh. Her brother Gulshan currently stays with his family at the same Ambala house. Gauri, a domestic help at the house, was inconsolable on learning about the former external affairs minister’s death. “She was very nice. She had come here a few months ago. When she learnt that I had two daughters, she told me to give them a good education and offered any help that might be needed from her side to ensure that they got the best facilities,” she said.

“We used to call Sushmaji ‘buaji’. I am deeply saddened at her death. At the same time, I am also proud of the fact that she rose to such heights in her life and became a role model for millions,” she said. Dinesh Aggarwal, another Ambala Cantonment resident, recalled how Swaraj once rushed to the door late in the evening to meet him at her Delhi home. “When I reached her Delhi residence, her aides told me madam would not meet anyone as she had just returned from a busy day in Parliament. However, when she learnt that Vicky, which is my nickname, had come from Ambala to meet her, she rushed out to meet me,” he said. “We talked for nearly 20 minutes.”

People from other parts of the state also expressed grief. “I still cannot believe that she is not amongst us. Her death is a big loss to the nation,” Hisar resident Lokesh Kumar said. Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij, who represents the Ambala Cantonment Assembly constituency, described Swaraj as a leader with rare qualities and said he was deeply saddened by her death. He recalled that Swaraj was elected as an MLA for the first time at a young age of 25, and later went on to become Haryana’s education minister.

“In 1977, it so happened that the ticket was first given to Som Prakash Chopra, who was jailed during Emergency. But for some reasons, when he did not enter the fray, the ticket was given to Sushmaji, who won, and the Janata Party government was formed,” Vij said. In 1990, Swaraj moved to the Rajya Sabha. Vij has been representing the Ambala Cantonment constituency since then.

The minister told PTI that Swaraj was raised by her maternal grandparents after the death of her mother. The veteran Bharatiya Janata Party leader died Tuesday night following a massive cardiac arrest. She was 67. Swaraj was a member of the Haryana legislative assembly from 1977-82 and 1987-90.

Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar mourned her death.”It is a personal loss for me,” said in a tweet. “Her contributions to Haryana and India will never be forgotten. My deepest condolences to her bereaved family members. May God give her eternal peace,” he said. Former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda too described her death a “personal loss”. “She was a person with rare qualities, ever ready to help others,” he said.

Three months after mob lynching victim’s death, Jharkhand police admit their failings in chargesheet


More than three months after a 55-year-old Christian tribal was lynched in Jharkhand’s Jurmu village by a mob of Hindu villagers for carving an ox, the local Gumla district police’s chargesheet in the case has revealed new evidence pointing to police apathy.

Testimonies of three Christian tribals injured in the attack reveal that the police ignored the victims of the mob attack for more than an hour-and-a-half as they lay on a street outside the police station, where the accused had allegedly dumped them after a four-hour assault.

It has now come to light that instead of rushing them to a medical facility, police officials only offered shawls to the severely injured victims. When the victims were finally ferried to a nearby primary healthcare centre, one of them, Prakash Lakda, was declared dead on arrival. The police had earlier denied allegations of delay.

FactChecker, in June, reported how the police investigations into many of such crimes in Jharkhand were marked by callousness and partisan behaviour, often leading to fatal consequences.

Police apathy

This also proved to be the case in the state’s latest hate crime on June 17 – the lynching of 24-year-old Tabrez Ansari, in which the victim, after 18 hours of assault by a mob, was taken to police custody instead of a hospital. Four days later, he was found unconscious in jail and was soon dead.

In Lakda’s case, the chargesheet, which has also pressed charges against the accused under the stringent Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, was filed earlier this month by the Gumla police.

Lawyers representing the victims say their testimonies in the chargesheet are proof that the police’s apathy led to Lakda’s death. Speaking to FactChecker, Gumla Superintendent of Police Anjani Kumar Jha admitted to the negligence and said that two police officials had been suspended for a month and departmental proceedings had been initiated against them.

The police has, so far, arrested seven of the 12 named accused – dozens of unnamed persons are also accused in the case.

But even as the Gumla police fight these allegations, they continue to press charges of cow slaughter against the victims, based on a complaint by those accused in the lynching.

On June 17, the district court of Gumla rejected the victims’ application for anticipatory bail – to shield them from arrest – after the state government’s public prosecutor alleged that the accused had slaughtered the ox for its meat. In the chargesheet, the accused, as well as other witnesses, have maintained that the ox was long dead before it was carved.

Jharkhand is the second deadliest state for hate crimes fuelled by religious bias, having reported 15 that are included in Hate Crime Watch, a FactChecker database that tracks such crimes. Jharkhand is considered a stronghold of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party – the party is in its second consecutive term at the Centre and has governed Jharkhand since 2014, too. In this year’s national elections, it won 12 of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in the state along with an ally.

‘Let’s kill them’

Describing the assault, 40-year-old Janerius Minj, one of the four tribals who was attacked by the mob, in his testimony to the police has said that on April 10, a mob of 30-40 people approached them from the direction of Jairagi village while they were carving a dead ox.

“All of them had sticks and rods in their hands and surrounded us,” he said. “Most of the 20-30 people from Jurmu escaped so they picked on the four of us and started assaulting us. They kept saying, ‘Let’s kill these people.’”

Minj has identified 12 people who he says played a leading role in the attack that lasted at least two-and-a-half hours. The mob then paraded the four through the village, forcing them to chant Jai Shri Ram slogans, in a pattern repeated in mob attacks across the country in recent weeks. “Whoever did not, was assaulted by the mob,” he said.

Then, Minj said, main accused Sanjay Sahu and Padu Sahu went to the local Dumri police station and came back in 30 minutes. “They arranged a bus, but Lakda was so badly beaten that he couldn’t even stand, nor could he get onto the bus, “he said in his testimony to the police, recorded on April 11, the day after the lynching. “So, Sahu and his men just dragged him into the bus and put him on the floor, at the back of the bus.”

At the end of the 19-km journey, the victims were left outside the Dumri police station. “They dumped Lakda at one spot and the rest of us three in another,” Minj said.

With the victims lying right outside the police station, police officials came out to check on them. “We were writhing in pain and could barely talk,” Minj said. “The police came, asked us what happened and asked us our names. We told them everything and told them that we felt very cold out there. So, they came back with shawls and lit a fire next to us before heading back into the police station.”

Minj, Lakda and two other victims – Peter Kerketta and Belesius Tirkey – lay there on the street for over 90 minutes, until a police vehicle took them to a nearby primary healthcare centre.

But the delay proved fatal for Lakda, who was declared dead on arrival.

Paraded through village

For Sanjay Sahu, the 48-year-old main accused in the lynching, the violence was justified.

In his confessional statement, Sahu, out on bail in a 2013 murder case, said that a mob of 60-odd people from his village, carrying sticks and rods, had rounded up the tribal villagers of Jurmu and assaulted four of them because what the victims were doing was “galat karya” or a misdeed.

“Some passersby told us that a group of people were carving a cow/ox and distributing its meat amongst themselves,” he said. “When we found out more, we realised that tribals from Jurmu including Lakda, Peter and others were carrying out this wrong act.”

Sahu’s testimony also reveals how the tribals suffered more assault when they were paraded through the village. “They had sustained many injuries… Then, we paraded them through the village, while chanting village slogans,” his testimony said. “Whoever saw them, came and assaulted them.”

At the hearings, the prosecution alleged that the three, along with 20-25 others, had “slaughtered the ox into pieces”. Advocate Shadab Ansari, representing the victims, however, said the police ignored its own chargesheet that said ox was already dead.

‘Poor evidence gathering’

Ansari, who is representing the three victims in the Jharkhand High Court, told FactCheckerthe police should have done more to bolster the case against the accused. “The entire chargesheet is based on victim and eyewitness testimonies,” he said. “But, there has been barely any investigation by the police to find evidence that corroborates and supports the testimonies.”

Listing out tactical errors in the police’s handling, Ansari said the police failed to record statements of victims and eyewitnesses before a magistrate, making it inadmissible as evidence in court. “The police did not even give the victims breathing space and went on to record their statements, a few hours after the attack,” Ansari said. “The victims were still under trauma and were intimidated by the fact that the police had filed a case against them for cow slaughter.”

An internal inquiry had revealed deficiencies in the police functioning on the night of the lynching, Gumla’s SP Jha said. “There was delay in attending to the victims and rushing them to the hospital,” he said. “Hence, we placed two officials, who were on duty that night, on suspension for a month. Their fate will be decided by departmental proceedings, currently underway.”

Kunal Purohit isan independent journalist and an alumnus of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, who writes on development, gender, right-wing politics and the intersections between them.

Class IX boy shot at coaching centre, 13-yr-old stabbed to death


A 13-year-old class IX student of Patna’s reputed St Dominik  High School was shot dead at a coaching centre in Danapur by a fellow student on Thursday evening while a class VII student of a government school in Muzaffarpur was stabbed to deaths by a group of teenagers earlier in the day.

In the first incident in the busy Bibiganj locality under Danapur police station limits, the victim, resident of nearby Nasriganj locality, died on the spot.

As panic-stricken students began fleeing from the classroom, the coaching institute teachers identified the shooter and nabbed him. A 9 mm pistol has been recovered from the school bag of the accused, whose identify has been withheld as he is also a minor. He was handed over to the police, which reached the spot and sent the victim’s body for autopsy.

The Bibiganj locality in Danapur is a hub of coaching institutes. As the news spread, all coaching institutes downed shutters and asked the students to rush back to their homes.

Danapur ASP Ashok Mishra said that a loaded pistol had been recovered from the accused.

In the second incident, four teenagers, brandishing knives and other sharp-edged weapons, barged into a government middle school in Muzaffarpur district  and stabbed to death a 13-year-old student in the presence of teachers and other students before escaping.

The incident occurred in the afternoon at the Bada Jagannath Middle School under Ahiyapur police station

The victim was son of a labourer. 

After the incident, residents of the village went on a rampage, damaging the school property.

Deputy SP (Town) Mukul Kumar Ranjan rushed to the spot after learning about the incident. However, by then, most of the students and teachers had fled to their homes out of fear.

The police, quoting eye-witnesses, said the armed teenagers barged into the school premises and called the victim out of the classroom on the pretext of some work. The moment the victim came out, they kept stabbing him in his abdomen till he collapsed and fell down. “The victim kept crying for help, but nobody came to his rescue,” the DSP said.

The teachers came out only after they realised that the killers had fled, he said. 

Soon, some locals arrived at the scene and rushed the boy to Sri Krishna Medical College Hospital where the doctors declared him brought dead.

Police suspect the student’s murder could be linked to an attempt to rob the victim’s mother on Wednesday. According to the police, a teenager from Ahiyapur had attempted to snatch money bag of the victim’s mother on Wednesday afternoon but was caught by locals, who brutally trashed him. The victim had also kicked the teenager, who could have planned his murder to avenge the assault. The DSP said the attackers had been identified and would be arrested soon.

Student caught with pistol at school 

Authorities of Begusarai’s Rajoura Middle School on Thursday nabbed a class VIII student who had come to school with a country-made pistol and handed him over to police.

Police had summoned the student’s parents and were interrogating them by the time of filing of this report.

Death Toll in Assam, Bihar Floods Reaches 198


New Delhi: The death toll in Bihar and Assam floods mounted to 198 on Thursday, with more than 1.17 crore people affected by the calamity in the two states, officials said.

In Assam, the death toll climbed to 75 with one more person succumbing in Dhubri, while water level rose in seven districts of the state.

Due to release of excess water from Kuricchu Hydropower reservoirs in Bhutan’s Kuricchu River, western Assam districts of Barpeta, Nalbari, Baksa, Chirang, Kokrajhar, Dhubri and South Salmara are facing rise in flood water level.

According to the Assam State Disaster Management (ASDMA), 34,92,734 people in 2,753 villages in 18 districts are affected by the deluge.

Flood water entered Bihar’s West Champaran, taking the total number of deluge-hit districts in the state to 13 on Thursday. But with no fresh deaths reported, the toll remained unchanged at 123, officials said.

West Champaran was inundated following torrential rains in the past few days, they said.

The Bihar Disaster Management Department said 82.12 lakh people under 1,241 panchayats of 106 blocks in the 13 districts were affected by the flood, and relief and rehabilitation work was going on in full swing.

An ex gratia of Rs 4 lakh was provided to the next of the kin of each deceased, while every family surviving the calamity was being given Rs 6,000 through direct benefit transfer.

Above-average rainfall predicted

The Indian Meteorological department, meanwhile, has predicted above-average rainfall over the next two weeks across the country. Despite floods in the northeast and Bihar, the country has received below average rains in the past two weeks.

However, on Thursday a weather department official told Reuters that there would be above-average rainfall, which would help summer-sown crops that were wilting in some areas due to a dry spell. Monsoon rains are crucial for farm output and economic growth as about 55% of India’s arable land relies on rainfall and agriculture forms about 15% of a $2.5 trillion economy.

“In the next two weeks, we are likely to get above average rainfall, which will be well distributed across the country,” said A.K. Srivastava, head of the climate research division at India Meteorological Department.

India’s monsoon rains were 35% below average in the week ending July 24, after receiving 20% less rainfall in the prior week, raising concerns over the output of summer-sown crops.

Overall, India has received 17% less rain than average since the monsoon season began on June 1, but in some states such as Gujarat, the biggest producer of cotton and groundnut, the rainfall deficit is as high as 42%.

Bihar Woman Allegedly Beaten to Death by Villagers on Suspicion of Witchcraft


Nawada/Bihar: A 50-year-old woman was allegedly beaten to death here on Tuesday by villagers, who accused her of practising witchcraft, police said.

The incident took place at Koyaligarh village under the Govindpur police station area, where the woman was attacked with bamboo and wooden sticks around 8 am, Station House Officer (SHO) Jyoti Punj said.

“The woman was brought to police station by her husband and other family members. Noticing her critical condition, we rushed her to a primary health centre, where doctors declared her brought dead,” he said.

An FIR has been lodged by the woman’s husband, who has named 12 residents of the village in the complaint, the SHO said, adding, that the body has been sent for post-mortem.

The woman, who had gone to fetch water in the morning, was later found lying on the ground in a pool of blood, and villagers were standing nearby and accusing her of practising witchcraft, her husband alleged in the FIR.

Four persons, named in the complaint, have been arrested and search is underway for the remaining accused, the SHO said.

The incident comes less than a week after three persons were beaten to death in Saran district on suspicion of stealing a buffalo.

Earlier in the day, opposition legislators led by former chief minister and RJD national vice president Rabri Devi staged a demonstration outside the legislative council, accusing the state

government of “failure to check violence against Dalits and Muslims”.

Left parties — the CPI and the CPI(M) — also issued statements, charging the Nitish Kumar government with failure to check mob violence.

Jharkhand death: Kin point to lack of food, govt officials cite illness


Jhingur Bhuyia, 42, died in Dorhagara village of Kanhachatta block of Jharkhand on Tuesday night. He left behind two children aged six and one, and wife Rubi Devi, who attributed his death to illness and lack of food.

Rubi Devi said her husband, who used to work as a daily wage labourer, was paralysed for a year, and the family did not have any income or a ration card. Her husband’s death, she said, was due to “his prolonged illness and lack of food at home, due to which he could not be fed well.”

She said she had borrowed Rs 100 from her neighbours to buy milk for her husband.

Denying that Bhuyia’s death was caused by hunger, Deputy Commissioner Jitendra Singh told reporters, “Prima facie, the death was due to illness.”

According to Singh: “Two months ago, Bhuyia had a paralytic attack on his face and could not eat solid food. The family had a ration card in his mother’s and sister-in-law’s name and his family got their share. There was a request by Bhuyia’s wife to add their names in the ration card, which has now been done. Our investigation says there was no food scarcity at home. This is not a case of death due to hunger.”

SDO Deepu Kumar, part of the inquiry team, told The Indian Express that the “actual cause of death” will be known after the post-mortem report. He added, “It is a baseless claim that the family did not have a ration card.” Bhuyia’s mother Maso Budhni (now deceased) had an Antyodaya Anna Yojna (AAY) card and his sister-in-law Basanti Devi has a ration card.

Rubi Devi said, “These cards are not in our name, and are being used by my brother-in-law who lives separately. They used to give me around 5-6 kg rice, which we could use for a few days. For the rest of the month, we had to often depend on other villagers.”

AAY households constitute the poorest of the poor and are entitled to 35 kg foodgrain a month.

Rubi Devi said she received her Aadhaar card a few months ago, but could not get a ration card from the local PDS dealer despite going to his shop several times. The PDS dealer could not be contacted. “Before his death, it was a struggle, I had to ask everyone for food. Many people helped…,” Rubi Devi said, sitting outside her kuccha house. “Our food comprised rice and potatoes. Rarely did we have pulses.”

She added, “We have a small piece of land, but due to lack of water, the produce is limited to one season. We will harvest corn in a few months. This is divided between the three brothers, and we don’t get much.”

She also said she was never offered any job under MGNREGA. The MGNREGA website states that Bhuyia had a job card made in his and his wife’s name in 2007, but does not have any work details.

When contacted, the panchayat’s Mukhiya Rajwanti Devi said the family never approached her for any job or problems. “The family should have told us so that I could have gone to higher officials,” she said.

According to the family members, Bhuiya was treated at an “ayurvedic centre” in Bishnugarh, more than 100 km away. Villagers said they did not trust the public health centres (PHC) as the doctors are usually not available. Less than 2 km from the village at Kanhachatti block area, an additional PHC is run with three Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANM). There is no doctor. ANM Sulekha Kumari said, “Doctors rarely visit this centre, few people come to us. Deliveries happen quite often, but we face problems because of water scarcity. We get water in buckets from neighbouring area for deliveries.”

On this, DC Singh said he would have to check, “It is a fact that there is shortage of doctors and vacancy of 130 doctors in Chatra,” he said. An additional PHC covers population of 20-30,000 and acts as a referral unit for health-sub centres.

NHRC issues notice to Bihar Police over JD(U) leader’s death; family claims Ganesh Ravidas was tortured in custody


New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Monday sent a notice to the Bihar police chief over the death of a JD(U) leader in police custody, hours after he was picked up for interrogation in a kidnapping case. The family of the leader, identified as Ganesh Ravidas, alleged that he was tortured in police custody.

Ravidas was found hanging from the ceiling of a toilet at the Nagarnausa police station in Nalanda on Thursday night, sources earlier said. Three policemen have been arrested in connection with the case.

Ravidas, who was the block president of the party’s Mahadalit cell, was picked up for interrogation in connection with the kidnapping of a girl, wherein he was not named as an accused, the sources had said.

“The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognisance of media reports that a local leader of the ruling JD(U) in Bihar, who was detained by the Nalanda police in connection with a kidnapping case, allegedly hanged himself inside the police station late on Thursday night,” the NHRC said in a statement.

The commission observed that the content of the news report, if true, amounted to a gross violation of the right to life. “Accordingly, the commission has issued a notice to the Director General of Police (DGP), Bihar, calling for a detailed report in the matter within six weeks,” the NHRC stated.

The police authorities had also been told to explain as to why intimation in this regard was not given to the commission within 24 hours of the occurrence of the incident, the rights panel said. Ravidas was detained by police on 11 July night in connection with an alleged kidnapping of a girl residing in his village.

He was suspected to have helped the girl elope, the NHRC said, quoting media reports. When police interrogation was on, he went to use a washroom, which was outside the lock-up, where he reportedly hanged himself, it said.

“The news report further reveals that the victim was killed by the police station in-charge and chowkidar. It is also stated that there were cut marks on the body of the deceased, suggesting it to be a case of torture in police custody,” the statement read.