Lakhinpur Khiri Attack: On the morning of the 7th of August, Lakhinpur was enveloped in a violent communal riot when villagers from the Bhel purushpur and Kaykotti talukas decided to protest against the treatment meted out to their community’s tribal leader, Ghulam Mutch.
The villagers were gathered outside the police headquarters in Lakhinpur demanding immediate action against the village head, Ghulam Mutch. The police tried to disperse the crowd with rubber bullets and batons, but the crowd became even more violent when they attacked the police trucks with rocks and sticks.
A number of people were seriously injured during the violent dispersal, and one police officer was killed. It is believed that this killed the peace talks that were due to take place between the villagers and the district and state government.
The dead police officer was identified as Suresh Soni, a 23-year-old woman. Several other women were seriously injured in the mobbing. The entire situation has shocked the nation, and the prime minister, Mr. Mulayam, ordered a cordon and patrol around the entire district to prevent further violence.
The protestors were allowed to go about their business as usual, but the local people were not allowed to cross the police lines to visit their shops or other establishments. The entire Khiri incident remains under a cloud of suspicion and uncertainty, with accusations flying back and forth between the government and the villagers.
Initially, the police claimed that the villagers had fired shots at the police vehicles on the way to the station. This turned out to be a mistake, as the shots came from a distance of more than one hundred feet.
The bodies were found riddled with bullets and the police called in the rioters for questioning. It transpired that the leaders of the Khiri protest were from the dominant party in the area, the ruling party, the SP. The entire episode is now being handled by the Special Branch of the police, and the spokesperson of the state, Mr. Subedar Dutta, has ordered an inquiry into the events that led to the killing of the six.
Lakhinpur Khiri Attack: Action taken by people
A senior SP leader, who is in self-rule, has been appointed to the case. He is named G.R. Kumar and has already visited the villages. The investigation so far shows that the Khiri leader was trying to instigate a fight between the police and the protesters, and he fired upon the police vehicles.
However, officials have alleged that he deliberately fired upon the six, and planned the ambush in a manner to kill six of them without harming any of the others.
The villagers are of the view that the six were killed as a result of the police shooting them at a point when they were trying to disperse the Khiri crowd. However, the state police chief, Mr. S.R. Shokey, has rubbished the charge, stating that the victims were deliberately fired upon by the Khiri leader, who later died in a hospital from a bullet that pierced his hand.
The villagers claim that the police fired in the air and that the leader fired as he walked along, pointing his weapon at the police. Shokey has called for calm and has ordered an inquiry into the case, saying that the victims were innocent.
But the head of the local Kachipur slum, Ghulam Murtaza, says that the six were actually executed while they were on a routine day out.
The police station where the five were arrested is also in the village. A clear video of youtube is provided here. “They were just doing their jobs,” says Murtaza. “This is nothing more than a witch hunt.” The villagers say that the leader was being questioned inside the villa by security forces when the shooting happened.
The SP government has promised a full investigation and is calling for Mr. Kumar to be arrested along with the other three suspects. They have also filed a case against the chief of the village for the negligence of duty. In addition to that, the SP government has promised to give compensation to the families of the dead bodies.
The main opposition party, the Congress, has released a list of twenty-one people who were killed in the attack, saying that all the names are associated with communal violence. The police have arrested seven suspects in connection with the incident.
Lakhinpur’s chief administrative officer, Adeel Chowdhry, has called for calm, saying, “The chief would like the local residents to take a chill attitude while dealing with the outsiders.
We will not allow any untoward incident to disturbing the communal harmony in the town.” Senior police officials have also promised to send a team from the Lakhinpur railway station to survey the situation there. They are expected to visit the place on Monday.