Two persons from a family of six, on their way home from a Chhath puja celebration, died on Monday morning after a man fired at them in Bihar’s Lakhisarai district. According to the police, the firing took place because he had been “refused permission” to marry a woman from the family. Four other family members have been admitted to the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH). Two of them, including the woman herself, are in a critical condition; the other two persons are out of danger. The accused man, who opened fire at about 7.30 a.m., is currently absconding.
The incident occurred in a Punjabi dominated locality of the district. Locals took the six victims to the Lakhisarai Sadar Hospital, where doctors declared two of them dead on arrival, referring the rest to the State capital’s PMCH for better treatment. The deceased have been identified as Chandan Jha and Rajendra Jha, the woman’s brothers.
“Ashish Choudhary, a neighbour, opened fire. After the initial investigation, we found that he and the girl were in love. Choudhary wanted to marry her, but her family objected. This went on for two to three years,” Lakhisarai Superintendent of Police (SP) Manoj Kumar said. He added that the police is looking for Mr. Choudhary, and three of his friends have been arrested.
Police recovered a 9 mm pistol at some distance from the spot where the shooting took place. Mr. Kumar and Lakhisarai District Magistrate Amarendra Kumar, along with other officials, visited the spot.
The man belongs to the Pasi Scheduled Caste community; the victims are upper caste Brahmins. Two years ago, the then couple, who are now about 25 years old, allegedly eloped, and the matter reached the Kawaiya Police Station. The families settled their strife mutually, and no police intervention was required.
“During the investigation, we found a written document in the form of a diary,” Lakhisarai Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Raushan Kumar said. An entry, allegedly made by Mr. Choudhary, stated that the couple had married in Patna and were living together in rented accommodation. However, the woman’s family asked them to return so that they could be married “properly”. The couple returned to Lakhisarai. “However, the marriage never took place,” Mr. Kumar said, adding, “The investigation is underway.”
Lakhisarai MLA, the BJP’s Vijay Kumar Sinha, is the Leader of the Opposition in the Bihar Legislative Assembly. Mr. Sinha slammed the Nitish Kumar government and called the incident an administrative failure with “gundaraj (the rule of gangsters)” in Lakhisarai. He alleged that post-mortem reports were being manipulated. He also urged the Bihar Governor to intervene in the matter.
“The government will not spare the culprits. Politicking over such an incident is unfortunate,” the ruling Janata Dal-United’s (JD-U) spokesperson Abhishek Jha said.