Manoj Chaurasia/The Statesman
PATNA: Slashing the hands and arms of little girls with razor blades, a mysterious stalker has struck terror into the hearts of residents here in the capital of Bihar. In the past three days, the "blade-man" has attacked around a dozen girls in various parts of the state capital. Parents are so panicked that they are not allowing their children to leave home alone, even to play with friends or attend coaching classes.
They say the blade-man suddenly appears on foot, slashes the girls and then melts away into a crowd. All the victims are between five and 17 years old. Most of the cases have been reported from Noon Ka Chauraha, Loha Ka Pool, Begum Ki Haveli and Udrahamapur localities busy Patna city, the business hub of the state capital. Parents say the slasher normally strikes in a crowded place, so he can quickly disappear.
Alarmed at the panic the "blade-man" has created, local police have constituted a special team to nab him. They have also released a sketch of the suspect, on the basis of information provided by victims. The sketch shows him as a youth, in his mid-20s sporting black jeans, a black shirt, and a cap. However, this has only led to a fresh law-and-order problem in the city, as the angry residents have started assaulting almost any youth who resembles the suspect in the sketch.
Only yesterday, the mob assaulted at least three youths and tried to lynch Mohammad Shafiqu, suspecting he was the real slasher. If police hadn't protected him, he might have been killed. Mr Shafiqu said he was just an innocent rag-picker.
The mob kept pressing police to hand him over to them for "raw justice". Police refused, so the mob tried to break open the gate of the police station. Eventually, police had to resort to caning to disperse the mob, and bring the situation under control. Narrating her tale, one of the victims, Ms Hema Perveen, said she was returning home after buying vegetables when the "blade-man" slashed her right hand. "Initially, I did not understand what had happened, but soon I felt severe pain as blood began oozing out," she said. Hearing her cries, her parents rushed to the spot, but by then the slasher had vanished into the crowd.
Most of the victims have been wounded on their right hands, and all have had to be admitted to hospitals. They include Kumari Jyoti, Rajnanadini Kumari, Soni Kumari and Muskan Kumari.