Patna/Mumbai/New Delhi, Oct 27 : People in Bihar are agitated over the killing of a gunman who tried to take hostage the passengers of a public bus in Mumbai's Kurla area on Monday saying that the police should have apprehended the alleged hijacker alive.
This morning, Mumbai Police shot dead Rahul Raj, a 26-year-old native of Patna, inside a BEST bus (Bombay Electric Supply and Transport) in the suburb.
Police said that Rahul died in exchange of fire with police after attempts to persuade him to surrender failed.
Mumbai's Additional Commissioner of Police, Sadanand Date, said, "After entering the bus we warned him to drop the weapon, but he started firing. We had to fire in retaliation in which he sustained severe bullet injuries. One passenger also sustained injuries in the firing but he is out of danger now. We just came to know that he has been declared dead in hospital."
Rahul had entered a private bus in the Bail bazaar area around 9.00 a.m. and threatened conductor and passengers with a revolver.
Later, while talking to reporters, the conductor said that Rahul wanted to kill Raj Thackeray, the chief of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), which is fuelling anti-immigrant rhetoric in the state.
Justifying the police action, R. R. Patil, Maharashtra Home (Interior) Minister told reporters in Nagpur that anyone who will take law and order in his hands will be dealt with in a similar manner.
"Anyone who will take law and order in his hands and try to scare people with weapon will be dealt in the same manner. Police has fulfilled their duty perfectly. Is it a question of law and order that a mentally unstable person enters a bus and tries to scare people? If such a person threatens people, then it is perfectly all right for the police to act in this manner. And if anyone else would also try to do a similar thing then he will also be dealt with similarly," said Patil.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is in New Delhi for an all-party meeting to discuss the alleged atrocities on north Indians in Maharashtra, raised the issue during a meeting with Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.
Kumar told reporters that the situation of shooting Rahul could have been easily avoided.
"Maharashtra police has overreacted, it's like using a cannon to kill a hen. The boy could have been easily overpowered. And they could have just targeted his hand holding the gun to prevent him from shooting. The situation as I have seen on the television did not seem as if it required such a drastic step of shooting a boy," said Kumar.
Meanwhile Rahul's father Kundan Pratap Singh has in Patna demanded an investigation into the shootout.
"He completed diploma in X-Ray and had gone to Mumbai for a job. He had just left on October 24. Hijacking involves a lot of planning and how can he do it when he just reached there? Secondly a person cannot do it alone; one needs people to assist in order to carry out such an act."
While replying to questions regarding his intension to kill Raj Thackeray, Singh said, "No, it's all wrong."
Singh also denied police contention that Rahul was mentally unwell due to which he did such an act.
Passengers of the bus narrating the incident said the gunman kept on shouting that he has no issue with common public and that he has come to kill Raj Thackeray.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has demanded a report from the Maharashtra Government on the entire episode detailing the circumstances under which Rahul was shot.
On October 19, MNS activists had attacked north Indian railway job aspirants in Mumbai prompting calls for Thackeray's arrest and for the party to be banned.
Thackeray was arrested on October 21 for rioting and provoking attacks on migrants. His arrest sparked protests in Maharashtra and a backlash on migrants across the country.
However, on October 22, Thackeray was given bail in Mumbai after spending a night in jail.