NAPM Bihar had conducted a fact finding in to the incident, findings of which has been submitted to the Judicial Commission investigating the police firing in Forbesganj. Hearing in the matter are taking place at the moment. (Download report from attachment below)
On 1st June 2011, the outcome of the meeting of the villagers (Rampur and Bhajanpur), the company officials and administration upheld the possibility of the road connecting the two villages (Bhajanpur and Rampur) to remain. Then on 2nd June 2011, the company took a u-turn and the villagers saw a completely different picture – the connecting road between the two villages was blocked by the private company to pave way for the factory to come up. What followed next was a peaceful protest on 3rd June 2011 against the blockade of the road. To which the police forces clamped down on the protestors and they chased them right into their homes; injuring men, women, and children and 4 persons including an infant and a pregnant women were shot dead (sources said 6 persons were shot dead). To this day, justice exists only in the form of hope for the villagers of Rampur and Bhajanpur while the judicial commission of six month term set up by the Bihar Government under Nitish Kumar-the Chief Minister of Bihar, has turned into years. The compensation to the death and injured, and other demands are being mired into the politics of delaying justice.
Rampur and Bhajanpur are two villages under the block of Forbesganj of Araria district of Bihar. These two villages have 90 per cent Muslim population and they have an old connecting road. Few years back in 2011, the land between these two villages including the road was given to a private company-Auro Sundaram International Company by Bihar Industrial Development Authority to set up a Glucose factory. The villagers made it clear that the road should not be taken away and if so, they should be provided with an alternative road. Agreement to some extent was achieved out of meeting but the very next day the company turned back and blocked the road leading to this incident of ‘Forbesganj firing’.
A fact-finding team by NAPM confirmed the killings of villagers on their visit to the area. The team said, “The police opened fire on the protesters and chased them to their homes. According to many eye witnesses present on the scene the order to fire was given by the SP Garima Mallik. SDO, Ashok Agarwal, MLC, BJP, Saurabh Agarwal, Ashok Agarwal’s son and Managing Director of the Auro Sundram International Company were present on the scene when firing was ordered”.
A demand was made to dismiss SP and all policemen who were involved in the firing in ‘Forbesganj firing’ incident. A sum of Rs 10 lakh to relative of deceased and Rs 1 lakh to injured people are being made. A job to the family members has also been made whose breadwinners died in the firing and a road to two villages. So far, compensation of Rs 3 lakh had been given only to the family of infant who was shot dead during the said incident.
The Bihar government didn’t pay heed to this demand and made it clear that the compensation and due course of law will only be made on the basis of the report of judicial probe. Under mounting pressure from the centre and civil societies, a formal notification of judicial commission was constituted on 22nd June 2011 with three terms of reference: circumstances leading to the incident, sequence of events and justification of the police firing on 3rd June 2011. This commission was slated to wrap up in six months. Few days before 22nd December 2011, the term of the commission got extended to a year and then later to another year; the judicial commission is expected to finish the inquiry this June 2013. Chances loom that it may get extended again. The motive of this extension of judicial commission is seen as a tactic to delay the justice and in diluting the evidences of this incident.
On 30th March 2013, an arrest warrant has been slapped against 50 villagers including those who were shot dead and those who were injured, their family members and witnesses of the incident. This surfaced when the judicial commission is still pending and Supreme Court is hearing a petition that seeks a CBI probe. The arrest warrant is said to be made from the FIRs filed by the police and officials of Auro Sundaram International Company. Villagers are baffled at this news and according to some sources; the company is playing politics to divide the villagers in supporting them.
The discourse of ‘Forbesganj firing’ is suggestive of a nexus between the state and private company. The way how Bihar Government of Nitish Kumar politicised the outcome of this incident is uncalled for. The extension of the judicial commission is a way of protecting the high handedness of authorities and upholding the interests of private company. The incumbency done to this incident only means that the state conveniently denies the rights of (Muslim) minority in seeking justice and living peacefully. The brutality of ‘Forbesganj firing’ is condemnable and more so when Nitish Kumar Government treated it casually.