The Indian Herald

The Indian Herald

June 15, 2011

Forbesganj firing: Police atrocities on Muslims hurts Nitish Kumar's secular image

The firing on Muslims in Bihar's Forbesganj in which four villagers including a pregnant woman and an infant were killed, is fast turning into the biggest political challenge for the JDU-led coaliation.

The opposition has geared up to corner the State government over the issue. Meanwhile, social organisations, Muslim groups and civil rights bodies are also gunning for the police officials who ordered the firing on villagers.

This is the biggest challenge for Nitish Kumar who came to power with a resounding majority and formed the government with BJP's support. The incident has become a rallying point for the opposition parties including the RJD, LJP and Congress.

Ram Vilas Paswan, Lalu Yadav and prominent Congress leaders have joined hands to embarrass the government, as except one victim, the family of no other victim killed in the firing was handed over any financial compensation.

The firing took place in Araria's Forbesganj in the first week of June. But Baba Ramdev's fast overshadowed it. However, protests continued over the manner in which police opened fire at villagers. A video that showed a policeman stomping over and kicking a man who had been hit with a bullet, caused mass outrage.

Opposition hopes that Forbesganj issue would hurt Nitish Kumar, as he had cultivated his image carefully as a secular leader. By not letting Narendra Modi enter Bihar for campaign, Nitish had sent a signal to the minorities.

The latest incident is bound to give him a headache. Clearly, all is not well in Bihar. Though Nitish succeeded in improving law-and-order situation, this incident has come as a blot for the administration.

If the State government had taken firm action on the guilty it would not have faced such protests from Patna to Delhi. For now, the Opposition has got a stick to beat the JDU-BJP government with. Let's see if the Bihar governments goes for a damage control and accepts the demand for CBI inquiry.

TIH Bureau

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