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Rape accused lynched in Bihar’s Katihar was ‘sentenced to death by panchayat’, say police

Patna: Three days after a man was lynched over allegations of raping a minor in Hasanganj in Bihar’s Katihar district, a police official said Saturday that one person has been arrested and multiple accused are absconding in connection with the case.

Mohammad Sagir (30) was tied to a tree and lynched after a panchayat ‘sentenced him to death’ Thursday for allegedly raping his 11-year-old neighbour, said the police. A video of the incident, which took place under the limits of Hasanganj police station, is now viral.

“We have arrested one Hazra Khatun in this connection [lynching]. Six more accused are absconding,” Katihar Superintendent of Police (SP) Jitendra Kumar told ThePrint, adding that two teams have been formed to identify and track down the remaining accused. 

Bihar has witnessed a number of incidents of vigilante justice this year. 

In June, a village doctor was lynched in Jamui district over a dispute with construction workers he had hired to build his house. Later that same month, a 35-year-old resident of Begusarai was lynched on suspicion of cattle theft at Chakhabi in Samastipur district.

On 5 August, a man accused in two instances of cattle theft and released on bail just days earlier, was beaten to death in Pothia village in eastern Bihar’s Araria district.

“Mob lynching indicates a lack of faith in the police,” said a former Inspector General-rank officer who did not wish to be named, adding, “They [the mob] don’t believe that police are capable of giving them justice.” 

 Also Read: ‘Work of psychopaths, no motive’ — mass shooting in Bihar’s Begusarai leaves cops stumped

‘Police could have saved him’

On the incident Thursday, Ramchandra Mandal, station house officer (SHO) of Hasanganj police station, said locals claim they caught Sagir sexually assaulting his neighbour, a minor girl. He was then produced before the Hasanganj panchayat that ‘sentenced him to death’.

Sagir was being lynched when police intervened and rushed him to Katihar Sadar hospital where he was declared dead on arrival.

“Girl’s family and Sagir were not only neighbours but also knew each other,” said Mandal, adding that the girl’s family has filed a counter FIR against Sagir alleging kidnapping and rape. Reports of the minor’s medical examination are awaited, he told ThePrint.

Mandal also said that Sagir had been accused of rape in the past. “He had been to jail before, there are nine criminal cases against him.”

Meanwhile, locals have questioned the delay on the part of the police in intervening.

“Police station is located just about 700 metres from the site of the incident. Perhaps, if police had come earlier, they could have saved him and action could have been taken against him legally,” said Md Azaruddin, a member of the Jagannathpur panchayat.

Responding to the charge, Mandal claimed that the police rushed to the spot immediately upon receiving word about the lynching.

(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)

Also Read: NCRB stopped collecting data on lynching, hate crime as it was ‘unreliable’, govt tells LS

Source: The Print

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