Patna: An indefinite curfew was imposed in Ara town and red alert was sounded across Bihar Friday, after unidentified gunmen shot dead Brahmeshwar Singh ‘Mukhiya’, chief of the outlawed Ranvir Sena, police said. The state police chief has ordered a high-level probe into the killing.
Singh, in his early 70s, was killed early Friday in Ara, the district headquarters of Bhojpur, triggering violent protests by his supporters and sympathisers who constituted the upper-caste militia, according to police.
Some angry supporters manhandled Director General of Police (DGP) Abhyanand when he was coming out of Singh’s house after meeting the family, but he was escorted out by security personnel.
Abhyanand ordered a high-level probe into Singh’s killing soon after he visited Ara. “I have asked to constitute three different teams of police officials to deal with the situation. The first team will look after investigations into the case, another team will look after law and order, and the third team will go into the cause of the killing,” he told media persons.
A police official in Ara, about 60 km from here said, “An indefinite curfew has been imposed in view of a large-scale arson in the town.”
According to officials at police headquarters in Patna, a red alert has been sounded across the state and top officials were asked to keep close vigil in Jehanabad, Arwal, Aurangabad and Gaya districts.
These four districts were the strongholds of Ranvir Sena and its rivals – outlawed Maoist groups and the Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist) – till early 2000.
“Singh was shot dead by unidentified gunmen when he was on a morning walk near his residence,” a police official said.
Soon after the news of Singh’s killing spread, his angry supporters attacked police vehicles, dairy vehicles and government offices in Ara. The circuit house in the town was set on fire and nearly a dozen vehicles, including a bus, were torched by protestors, the official said.
Top district officials, including the superintendent of police, who reached the spot to assess and check the situation, were chased away by the protestors, the official added.
After much persuasion by top police officials, including Abhyanand and some ruling party leaders through back door, the supporters allowed police to take Singh’s body for an autopsy and blocked roads, demanding arrest of the culprits behind his killing, the official said.
Opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad and his alliance partner Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan have demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the killing.
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) state president C.P. Thakur also demanded that the state government should order a CBI probe into the incident.
However, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is currently visiting Bhagalpur district as part of his ‘sewa yatra’, appealed to the people to maintain peace. The district administration has deployed security forces, including the Central Reserve Police Force units, in Ara town.
Shops and markets in neighbouring districts, known as a stronghold of the Ranvir Sena, remained shut to protest the Sena chief’s killing.