PATNA: Rattled by six murders with guns in Bihar in a span of 24 hours, new DGP Gupteshwar Pandey held a meeting with top police officials and sent a stern warning to criminals on Saturday even as the Opposition parties targeted Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who holds the home portfolio.
Pandey, who took over as DGP three days ago, praised the police force for gunning down a criminal at a crowded bus stand at Muzaffarpur on Friday. In a video-conference meeting with all ADGPs, IGs, DIGs and SPs of the districts, he asked the officers to ensure that the rule of law prevails in Bihar.
“If police is fired at by criminals, we would fire back with AK-47 and INSAS rifles. We will not hesitate from shooting at them. If they fire one shot, we would fire five in return,” said Pandey, a 1987-batch IPS officer known for successful community policing experiments, while talking about the Muzaffarpur incident, in which police fired with an AK-47 rifle to neutralise criminal hiding in a bus. The criminal and his gang members had shot dead a transporter there minutes earlier.
The six murders executed by criminals with guns in Siwan, Bhojpur, Muzaffarpur, Buxar, Munger and Gaya districts sparked public protests. In Siwan, a close aide of the jailed former MP Mohammad Shahabuddin was shot dead barely 500 metres off a police station. The victim, Mohammad Yusuf, who often accompanied Shahabuddin’s wife and son and lived close to their house, was a property dealer. Police forces were deployed in Siwan town on Saturday after the jailed RJD leader’s supporters held a protest gathering.
The DGP dismissed claims that crime was on the rise in Bihar. “A very small section of society, maybe four or five per cent of the population, is engaged in crime as a profession. It is like a cat-and-mouse game. It is the job of police to nab them,” he said.
“Good governance means that every criminal fear that they would not be spared. It is not true that criminal incidents are on the rise. A big task was performed by police in Muzaffarpur, where a criminal was shot dead in an encounter in front of a large crowd,” added Pandey.
Opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav of RJD shot off a letter to CM Nitish Kumar on Saturday, saying antisocial elements have been given a free run by the government and that “powerful elements close to the ruling coalition are reportedly backing not only criminals but also are involved in underground business of different operating mafia”.
“Law and order in Bihar has broken down. Nitish Kumar, who heads the home department, has totally failed in providing public safety. Governance does not mean only making tall claims,” said senior Congress leader Pramchandra Mishra.
The ruling JD(U) and BJP leaders, however, dismissed these charges and insisted that suitable action is being taken against criminals in every incident without fear or favour.