Patna: Authorities in Bihar are battling hard to restore peace over the past week as communal tensions spread to fresh areas on Wednesday. The biggest worry for the chief minister is that the tension has been mounting despite stern warning to troublemakers and putting the state administration on a high alert.
Even as normality was restored in Bhagalpur and Aurangabad districts, sporadic incidents of communal tension erupted in Samastipur, Munger and Nalanda districts, prompting the authorities to promulgate prohibitory order under section 144 of the Criminal Penal Code (CrPC).
Trouble broke out in Samastipur district after one group allegedly hurled slippers at the procession of a Hindu deity being taken out for immersion yesterday. Angry mob then ransacked a mosque on way, leading to violent clashes between the rival groups, prompting heavy deployment of police forces and suspension of internet services. At least 10 cops were wounded in the clashes.
Communal tension rose in Munger district after religious processions were held in some localities. Rival groups then indulged in violence and hurled stones at each other. Some 10 people were injured in the attack. Police are camping at the spot and efforts are on to restore peace. “We are requesting the people to maintain peace and not pay attention to rumours,” district magistrate Uday Kumar Singh told the media.
Communal tension was also reported from Nalanda, the home district of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, where two communities clashed during a religious procession taken out by the Hindus. Several people were injured in the attack, prompting the police to burst tear gas shells, media reports said on Wednesday.
The fresh development comes even as the southern district town of Aurangabad continued to reel under the grip of violence for the past three days. Violence erupted there on Sunday while a religious procession was being taken out in the town by a Hindu group.
Angry mob later pelted stones and resorted to arson during which some 45 shops were set on fire by frenzied mob. Keeping in view of the severity of the situation the authorities imposed curfew in the town, rushed additional paramilitary forces and deployed police officials to restore peace. In a massive crackdown, police arrested 122 persons out of around 500 accused.
“More than 500 are wanted in connection with the communal violence. They are being arrested with the help of CCTV footages,” Aurangabad District Magistrate Ranjan Mahiwal told the media on Wednesday.
A week earlier, communal violence had erupted in Bhagalpur over playing of loud music during a religious procession which was being led by Arijit Shashwat, son of federal Minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey. The police later registered a case against the minister’s son, and an arrest warrant was issued by a court, yet he remained free.
The issue had rocked the Bihar Assembly on Tuesday with Leader of Opposition Tejashwi Yadav slamming chief minister Nitish Kumar over the increase in incidences of communal violence in the state and the government’s failure to arrest the culprits.
“As we have said many times, Nitish Kumar has lost his grip over the administration in the state. The entire bureaucratic machinery has become subservient to the agenda of the BJP-RSS. Bihar is now being ruled, not from Patna, but from Nagpur (the RSS headquarters),” Tejashwi has alleged.
He also advised the chief minister to take a lesson from his father and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) President Lalu Prasad. “My father had got arrested Lal Krishna Advani who was taking out Ram rath yatra to maintain communal harmony without caring for his government but Nitish Kumar is not able to arrest even the son of a minister. Just see the contrast,” Tejashwi said.
The Bihar chief minister has vowed to tackle troublemakers with an iron fist saying corruption was as serious an issue for him as communalism. Just on the eve of Ramnavami, he held a meeting his party lawmakers and officials and asked them to be on alert to maintain communal harmony yet clashes broke out in many areas.