Patna: A high-level team from the Bihar Police headquarters visited Gaya on Sunday following an ultimatum given by the members of the weaver community to the Gaya police to nab the culprits involved in last week's gruesome killing of a 16-year-old girl.
A police team headed by Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Alok Raj visited Gaya on Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s directive. The team met the girl’s family and assured them of speedy justice. The police team also met a delegation of the community, which was up in arms against the alleged police excesses against the victim's family members on the pretext of investigation.
The ADGP, during his meeting with Gaya SSP Rajeev Mishra, suggested a narco test on the girl’s father to ascertain the truth.
The Gaya Police, contrary to the statement of the victim's relatives, described the incident to be a case of "honour killing" and arrested the girl's father and his friend and later sent them to judicial custody. The police, however, let off the girl's mother on Friday evening after the intervention of top police officials.
Prem Narain Patwa, who led the delegation of the community, said on Sunday that they have given a seven-day ultimatum to the police to arrest the perpetrators of crime and punish the erring cops, whose negligence led to the murder of the minor girl. Though the family had approached the Buniyadganj police soon after the girl went missing on 28 December last year, the latter turned a blind eye.
On 6 January, the decomposed and mutilated body of the girl was recovered from a place near Baksaria tola on the Gaya-Khijarsarai road. "The public outcry over the alleged rape and murder for two consecutive days perhaps forced the local police to put the onus of the killing on the family," Patwa added.
The members of the Patwa community, which comes under the OBC category in Bihar, have resolved to fight for justice. "We have demanded a CBI inquiry into the incident. We don't have faith in the investigation conducted by the Gaya Police," said Prem Narain, the secretary of Vastra Udyog Seva Samiti.
Another member of the community, Tarkeshwar Prasad Patwa, said that a delegation will soon meet the Bihar Director General of Police KS Dwivedi and the Chief Secretary Deepak Kumar in Patna to press for handing over the investigation to the CBI.
"Only a CBI inquiry will unravel the truth," Tarkeshwar said, adding, "This is a question of the dignity of the entire community." He said that they would not compromise on the issue.
Taking serious note of the incident, deputy inspector general (Magadh range) Vinay Kumar and Gaya district magistrate Abhishek Kumar Singh called on the members of the weaver community and assured them that justice would be delivered to the family.
"It was because of the promise given by the two top officials that we have given a seven-day ultimatum to the police. Otherwise, we were not in a mood to relent on the issue, and had resolved to intensify our stir," said Gopal Patwa, who was a part of the delegation.
The Patwa community (whose traditional occupation is weaving) has a population of around 20,000 in the Manpur region of Gaya, and plays an important role in elections. "Nobody wants to hurt the feelings of the members of this community, which has a major chunk of votes," said an IPS officer who had earlier served as SSP of Gaya.
As per a rough estimate, around 12,000 powerlooms and 6,000 handlooms are at present engaged in the production of cotton in Gaya's Manpur area alone. More than 45,000 families of daily wage workers depend on the industry.
Production has come to a standstill for the last three days. The industry has already incurred a loss of over Rs 10 crore due to the ongoing agitation. A daily wager Ram Prasad said, "We have come to the brink of starvation as the powerlooms are lying defunct."
The weavers' association has now decided to call off their indefinite agitation. "We have agreed to call off the indefinite agitation on the assurances of the senior officials. But it doesn't mean that we have relented. Our fight for justice will continue," said Phaldhari Patwa.
The incident has already taken political overtones. A host of leaders, including Leader of Opposition Tejashwi Prasad Yadav and former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi are expected to meet the bereaved family members on Monday. On Saturday, a delegation of the CPI(ML) paid a visit to Gaya and demanded a thorough investigation.
The agitation for justice to the minor girl's family has gone beyond the state's boundary. Mukti Ranjan, a Bengaluru-based software engineer who originally hails from Patwa Toli in Gaya, said, "We are organising a torch light procession in Bengaluru on Sunday as a mark of protest over the gruesome murder in Gaya."
Ranjan, an IITian, said that the agitation would continue. "The 'Manchester of Bihar' is virtually seething with anger. How can we remain silent?" he asked. More cities are likely to witness protests in days to come.
Meanwhile, ADGP (law and order) Alok Raj said that a team of the criminal investigation department and the forensic science laboratory would visit the spot on Monday and collect evidence. They would assist the SIT constituted by the Gaya SSP Rajeev Mishra to crack the case at the earliest.
On the claim that honour killing was the motive behind the killing, the ADGP said, "The investigation is in progress. So it will not be prudent to make any comment at this stage. What we can say now is that the case will be probed from all angles."
(Ramashankar Mishra is a Patna-based freelance writer and a member of 101Reporters.com)
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Updated Date: Jan 13, 2019 21:17:01 IST