'General Dyer in British Raj': Nitish Kumar Comes Under Fire on 1st Day of Bihar Elections for Munder Incident
Bihar CM Nitish Kumar addresses election rally.
The incident, allegedly triggered by the local police objecting to a procession being taken out for immersion of a Durga idol late Monday night in flagrant violation of social distancing norms, had set off a pitched battle between security personnel and devotees.
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- Last Updated: October 28, 2020, 23:34 IST
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The Nitish Kumar government in Bihar came under heavy opposition fire on Wednesday, the day of the first of the three-phase assembly polls, with rivals drawing comparisons between the Jallianwala Bagh massacre and the Monday incident in Munger where a young man was killed in firing during a police crackdown on a religious procession. The district police, which is headed by the daughter of a close aide of Kumar, was condemned for having acted in a manner akin to 'General Dyer', while the government was likened to the 'British Raj' under Lord Chelmsford, the then Viceroy of India.
The incident, allegedly triggered by the local police objecting to a procession being taken out for immersion of a Durga idol late Monday night in flagrant violation of social distancing norms, had set off a pitched battle between security personnel and devotees. "Stones were hurled at a police party by some anti- social elements, leaving at least 30 of our personnel injured.
The SHO of Kotwali police station has received a serious head injury. Some gunshots were also fired by the unruly mob which led to the unfortunate death of one person and left six others injured," Munger Superintendent of Police Lipi Singh had said after the incident. Lipi Singh is the daughter of a former IAS officer and JD(U)'s Rajya Sabha leader RCP Singh.
Tension has gripped the district after the incident and the heavy police deployment in place to keep the situation under control seemed to have cast a shadow on the voting which took place in the three assembly segments there. The overall turnout stood at about 47 per cent, much less than the average for 71 seats which went to polls in the first phase of elections.
RCP Singh was mobbed by angry protesters demanding action against the "guilty officials" when he visited Begusarai, where polling is scheduled for November 3. Begusarai is the Lok Sabha seat of BJP leader and Union minister Giriraj Singh who had condemned the Munger incident and sought action against "erring officials no matter how highly connected they may be.
The opposition Grand Alliance, comprising RJD, Congress and three Left parties, called a press conference early Wednesday morning with the demand for a "High Court- monitored probe" in the incident. RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, who is the chief ministerial candidate of the opposition coalition, also sought to know from Kumar and his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi, a senior BJP leader, "who permitted Munger police to act like General Dyer".
The simile was endorsed by AICC general secretary Randeep Surjewala, who sat by Yadav's side and took potshots at the BJP, claiming Hindu religious processions were being targeted under its watch. AICC spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhavi, who addressed a press conference in the national capital later in the day, compared "Sushasan Babu", a moniker often used for Nitish Kumar, to the British army officer Reginald Dyer who had presided over the military action in Amritsar.
Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav, a maverick former MP who has floated his own outfit Jan Adhikar Party, tweeted "If Munger SP Lipi Singh is General Dyer, then who is Lord Chelmsford - the main conspirator behind the massacre? Who is responsible for the violence against youths who simply wanted visarjan (immersion) of Mother Durga's idol? Is it Niths, Narendra Modi, or the BJP-JD(U) combine?".