I was in college at the time I became an eyewitness to a brutal murder in Patna, Bihar (India). It happened late in the afternoon on a hot July day. I was standing in the balcony, comparing notes with two of my friends in our privately owned hostel. Down, the busy street was bustling with life. Nobody knew, it was soon to go deathly quiet.
We were in the middle of a conversation when I saw a man running like a mad person. He looked poor and distraught. But my inexperienced eyes led me to think differently. I watched him being hounded by two men on a bike, and thought they were having some kind of youthful fun.
One of them was wearing a green shirt and black pant and he had a gun pointed at the poor man, who was trying to flee. I thought it was a toy gun and looked on with interest.
The men on bike laughed uncontrollably. Next moment, the young man in green shirt, fired incessantly at the poor man. With disbelief in his eyes, the poor looking man fell bathed in blood. My dream reverie broke with jolt. Like an idiot, I had comprehended very late that I had been witnessing a murder.
My two friends rushed down the stairs to escape and one of them fell down the stairs hurting herself badly. Before I could respond in any way, the murderers laughed heartily before leaving the spot in their shining bike.
No one touched the poor man as he bled to death. We were locked inside the hostel and the street went deathly quiet within seconds. Not a soul came to help out the man or even offer a kind hand. It was heart breaking…heart wrenching…horrible, to say the least! I had never felt so much ashamed of myself as I helplessly watched him dying on the street from balcony.
After a few moments, a brave lady ( I still don’t know whether she knew him or not) coerced a rickshaw puller to put the body on his rickshaw. Together, they lifted him on the rickshaw and perhaps carried him to a hospital. The police came, ostensibly questioned a few people and left.
We students were distraught and a few of us cried for hours ( I am sure my friends will relate to this, when they read this). I remember not sleeping for days. But I consoled myself with the cowardly argument that we were locked from inside, so we couldn’t have possibly done anything.
Later, we learned that it was a case of road rage. The man was a servant somewhere and he had chastened the young men on bike, when they had shown agression on road. This speaking out against injustice had cost him his life. I thought about his dependants and felt worst.
We also learned that although there were more than 100 witnesses to this murder, the politically strong murderers remained free men.
Soon, life went on as usual and the street bustled with life again. All common people including us, comfortably forgot about the murder, and tried to erase the tragedy from our minds as it was safer to be mum in those days.
Those were RJD days in Patna, with supremo Lalu Prasa Yadav at the helm. Everyone lived in constant fear as hooligans crawled the streets. Justice was a joke at the time. We never felt safe in those days as crime against women was rampant.
RJD is back in Bihar and power is being shared by Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar. I fear that the murderers would be back in the streets of Bihar, making a joke out of law and order. I fear that Nitish Kumar would fail to check Lalu’s ‘jungleraj’ due to the coalition government. I fear about so many big and small things as my family and relatives live in Bihar…
The poor man never got justice, and as witnesses we were all partakers to the crime. I had tried to erase the image of his writhing blood stained body from my mind but it keeps coming back. The image came back to haunt me again after the Bihar elections.
God save Bihar!