Bihar PUCL Report: I
Fake Encounter at Bihta on Dec. 10, 1999
Bihar unit of PUCL constituted a team of enquiry on request of Lok Sang ram Morcha for alleged killing of Viswanath Yadav, alias PP, alias Pratap, an area Commander of people's War Group. The two member enquiry team headed by ram Chandra Lal Das State president along with Ramadhar Singh a member of PUCL made a visit to Bihta to find out the truth.
The team reached Bihta on 16th of January at 10 AM and from there proceeded to the spot from where Pratap, alias PP, is said to have been lifted and shot dead at a distant place in an 'encounter'. As per the complaint the place is situated at village Raghopur, a suburb of Bihta, near Agricultural Produce Market Committee building, Bihta. On enquiry it was found that the house is situated in a closed street at a distance of a furlong from the main (Patna -Aurangabad Road). It belongs to one Sonu Kumar. It is said that in that very house on the first floor, in a very small room, Bishwanath Yadav alias Pratap alias PP, was staying. Inspector Mudrika Prasad, Officer in charge, Bikram PS, Circle Inspector Lal Bahadur Ram, Circle Inspector, Sanjay Kumar Jha, Hawaldar of armed forces, constable no. 1622 Sabhapati Prasad, Constable no. 4376 Surendra Misra, Constable 2221 Ram Swarup Singh, Constable no 3181 Gajendra Prasad Himanshu, Constable no 64, Pradeep Prasad, Constable no. 2140 Md. Shamim Ahmed, Constable No. 709 Subhash Chandra Bose, Constable No 1272 Brajesh Kumar Jha, constable driver 4010 Shiv Chandra Rai, Officer in charge Paliganj, Circle Inspector Dillu Lohar, Officer in charge, Dulhin Bazaar, Circle Inspector Ram Bhajju Raya, Armed Force Hawaldar bearing No. 153 Deep Narayan Bandak, Hawaldar Gobind Prasad, Constable No 2589 Birendra Pd. Singh, Constable no1129, 1698, Ram Anugrah Singh, Constable driver no. 1129 Deol, surrounded the house from all sides and started searching. Pratap is a 'hard core criminal extremist' in the police records. Pratap, on alarm, jumped from the roof to the nearby house of Kariman Thakur, adjacent to the house where he was living. But in the mean time the police party who compelled Pratap to surrender intercepted him. Thereafter his hands were tied and a blanket was wrapped on his face and he was forcibly dragged from the scene towards Bikram.
The incident took place in broad daylight in the full view of a large number of persons, as it was the busy market day. Many persons residing nearby the place of occurrence were interviewed, including Baiju Shah S/o Shankar Shah. Everyone confirmed the above version in unison. Enquiry was also made on this point by cross-examining the Society members, including traders, shopkeepers, and employees of the local market yard under the Bihar State Agricultural Marketing Board. All of them rectified the incident to be true as has been alleged.
Thereafter, the team visited Bihta PS and talked about the incident with the officials available there. There is direct allegation against Mr. Ram Sahay Rai, the officer in charge of Bihta PS, the he was the main person responsible for the whole incident and it was he who arrested Pratap from shop in the Bihta market while he was purchasing something from the shop. In view of this it was very essential to take his version on the incident. But incidentally he was not available at that time.
In his absence Mr. Bideshwar and Rajendra Singh, wireless operator, Bigan Singh A.S I, in charge of records, were available and their version was recorded. In their respective statements they denied of having any information to the effect. In support of their version they showed as the station dairy in which there was no mention about the incident as per the station diary entry dated 10.12.99. In their defense they said that the entire police personnel of the Bihta PS was badly engaged on that day in managing the movement of marriage party in the marriage of Chief Minister's daughter because the bridegroom is the native of a that village falls under the jurisdiction of Bihta Police. On being asked the specific question whether they had any knowledge of the incident as it is alleged to have taken place, they denied that any such incident had taken place under Bihta PS. All they said was that they came to know from the newspaper itself on the very next day. However, the wireless operator, Mr. Rajendra Singh, disclosed that he knew the entire police operation done in this connection through the onward transmissions on his wireless set. Mr. Singh, however, accepted that had there been any knowledge about the presence of Pratap at Bihta, no police officer, specially the present officer in charge, Mr. Ram Sahay Rai, could have resisted the temptation to avail an opportunity to show the gallantry in killing a naxalite. He also said that Mr. Ram Sahay Rai is still lamenting that he has missed the opportunity to establish his bravery in killing such a hard-core criminal about whom he knew right from his tenure at Masaurhi. He also accepted readily that nobody could resist such temptation. So, in this case Ram Sahay Rai might have killed a person like Pratap, even in the name of encounter, as it would have added a great achievement and honor to his career.
From the above disclosure this possibility cannot be ruled out that Mr. Ram Sahay Rai and his men at the Bihta PS might have been in the raid and might have played a vital role in arresting PP. In this statement Mr. Rajendra Singh has said that PP used to stay with some Pushpa Devi, daughter of Indradeb Singh, who is his concubine. On that basis the involvement of Bihta Police and the possibility of it having played a vital role in the arrest cannot be overlooked easily. Specially, when Mr. Ram Sahay Rai was posted earlier at Masaurhi to which place Pratap belonged.
On the other side of the story, the police in their FIR lodged by one Mudrika Prasad, Officer in Charge Bikram, on 11.12.1999, maintain that they killed one of the extremist in a stiff encounter at a place situated at, approximately, half a kilometer from Rania Talab. The FIR has been lodged against "unknown" at 5 PM. On the day after the incident, i.e., 11.12.99, on the other hand, this news of police crackdown appeared in all the newspapers of the Capital. It is very surprising that though the incident is said to have taken place at 12 midnight of the 10th December; the report published in the papers was received from the District Police headquarters in which Mr. Rabindra Shahkaran, SP Rural, along with Arshad Jama, Dy. SP Danapur, gave the entire details of the police action in which Bishwanath alias PP was killed. On the other hand, the concerned FIR was lodged much after the statement given by the high police officers against the "unknown" person. This inconsistency in the police version of the incident creates serious doubts.
From the averment of the people who came before the enquiry team confirm the fact that Bishwanath, alias PP, was picked up from the house of Sonu Kumar in broad daylight and was murdered somewhere else. This suspicion gains ground further when it is given out that when the wife of the deceased Pratap, Sugia Devi, approached the postmortem house she came to know that the dead body had already been handed over to one Yogendra Sah, Hawaldar, as per postmortem entries. It was also known that the dead body was disposed of, with the help of armed constables, near the Poonpoon Bridge in the Ganga basin near Danapur.
After analyzing the entire episode and the FIR it appears that police had information about the presence of Pratap in the House of Sonu Paswan on the day and he was nabbed at the spot in a well planned action, he was a wanted person in police records. It is an admitted fact that Pratap belonged to on outlawed extremist group and he might be having a criminal record though the Bihta police denied any such entry in their record. Still, it does not confer any right to the police to kill him in a fake encounter. Any criminal also is guaranteed treatment according to law. His illegal acts are required to be dealt with under the established procedure of law.
The enquiry committee is of considered view that the Pratap was killed in a fake encounter in violation of all norms of justice and human right guaranteed to the citizen of India and the police has tried to hush up the matter by trying to make a false case. It filed a fabricated FIR. The FIR is at variance with the facts of the incident as found by the Committee.
Recommendations: Since the names of the police party involved in the case are on record, these guilty officers should be prosecuted for criminal acts and violation of human rights and rule of law. The State Government should be held liable for compensating the next of the kin suitably in the light of the directives of the Supreme Court as well as the Human Right Commission.
--By Ram Chandra Lal Das, Ramadhar Singh
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(PUCL Bulletin,Sept. 2000)