The Bihar Police on Tuesday filed a first information report against 19 people of Harivanshpur village in Vaishali district for blocking traffic on the Hajipur-Muzaffarpur highway on June 18 to protest against the death of seven children due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome, The Hindu reported.
Two men whose children died of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome are among the 19 booked for protesting, according to The Indian Express.
The protestors had also demanded supply of drinking water to their village. Villagers had blocked the highway for three hours after they came to know that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was visiting the Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital in nearby Muzaffarpur district. They had also raised slogans against the government. At least 131 children have died of encephalitis in Muzaffarpur. The overall toll in the state was 152 as on June 23.
“Altogether 19 persons were named in the first information, which also speaks about 30 other unnamed ones,” PTI quoted Bhagwanpur Station House Officer Sanjay Kumar as saying. “None of the identified people have been arrested so far and investigations are on to identify the unnamed accused.”
Rajesh Sahni, whose seven-year-old daughter died of encephalitis on June 9, said he was surprised to see his name in the first information report. “As the state government had not been listening to us even after children had been dying, several of us protested on the national highway, demanding water tankers,” he was quoted as saying.
Ramdev Sahni, who lost his two-year-old daughter to the disease, is also named in the FIR. “Is demanding water tankers a crime?” he asked. “This shows the very attitude of the government towards the poor.” Ramdev Sahni denied the charges of rioting and assault mentioned in the police document.
Sanjay Kumar said the police did not know while lodging the FIR that two people whose children had died were among those booked, according to PTI. “Blocking traffic on a highway warranted legal action and we were duty-bound to register a case against those who were involved,” he said. “Nevertheless, proper action will be taken in due course.”