Neither Prime Minister Narendra Modi nor Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has uttered a word on the Munger clash that left one dead, six with bullet wounds and over 100 injured in lathi charge.
As voting began for the first phase of the state elections on Wednesday, the Opposition hurriedly arranged a press conference where it likened the police action during Durga immersion processions on Monday to the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.
RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, the chief ministerial candidate of the Grand Alliance, also sought to know from Kumar and his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi, a senior BJP leader, "who permitted Munger police to act like General Dyer".
The Congress and Left parties said they wished the PM condoled the death of a youth and the CM condemned the police action.
Congress leader Randip Surjewala said the police committed atrocities and prevented devotees of Durga from following their religious practices. One of the devotees was shot in the head and died on the spot.
Tejashwi demanded immediate suspension of the Collector and superintendent of police of Munger and demanded to know who gave the orders for firing. He said SP Lipi Singh had acted like General Dyer.
Demanding a judicial probe, Tejashwi also dragged SP Singh’s family, saying her father is JDU national secretary general RCP Singh, who was earlier the principal secretary to Nitish Kumar.
Samir Kumar Singh, the working president of the Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee, who cast his vote at Milki booth inside Basic School of Tarapur locality, said the police action was unprovoked and excessive.
“The police forced the locals to break their centuries-old traditions,” said the Congress leader. He was the lone voter at the booth in Munger and said the tension in the town had kept voters away.
Local traders had called for a bandh during the day.
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has sent a notice to the SP Lipi Singh. The Commission said it has learnt that the victims also included one minor. It has asked the SP to reply within 48 hours. A copy of notice has been sent to the DIG of Munger with whom the SP is not on talking terms.
Reactions also came from various corners. While Bollywood star Kangana Ranaut called the firing “horrific”, senior female IPS officer from Karnataka, D Roopa, said rulebooks prescribe reasonable amount of force proportionate to the resistance. Sadly, this was not followed in Munger, she added.
Bimal Jain, a local and a Padmashri awardee, said the administration used excessive force instead of taking the organisers of puja samitis into confidence. “Firing and force were used on peaceful devotees.”