A total of 200 incidents of communal tensions have been registered in Bihar since JD(U) led by Nitish Kumar broke its alliance with the RJD-Congress and went back to the BJP-led NDA. Among the total, as many as 64 such incidents were registered this year itself, reports The Indian Express.
Several parts of West Bengal and Bihar have witnessed communal clashes over the past one week following violence during the Ram Navami processions last week. While it is limited to Asansol-Raniganj area in West Bengal, the situation is worse in Bihar where communal violence has spread to at least nine districts since March 17.
Communal Clashes In Bihar In The Last 5 Years:
According to the above data, 2017 has recorded the highest number of communal incidents in recent times.
2018, till date, has seen 64 such cases, out of which many incidents registered in the month March have been over religious processions passing through Muslim areas.
In Last one Month, in Bihar, communal clashes erupted in several districts like Bhagalpur and Aurangabad where many people were reported to have sustained injuries. In Samastipur district, trouble had erupted on Tuesday when some people hurled footwear at a procession carrying the idol of Goddess Durga for immersion upon the conclusion of Chaiti Navaratra festivities in Rohtas town, while communal clashes erupt in Aurangabad following a stone-pelting incident during a Ram Navmi procession on March 25.
Union Minister of State Ashwini Kumar Choubey’s son Arijit Shashwat was also booked for rioting and inciting violence in Bhagalpur where clashes erupted during an unauthorised procession taken out by BJP, Bajrang Dal and RSS activists on March 17. However, Shashwat has moved the Patna High Court for quashing of FIR against him in the case.
Reacting to all the communal violence and clashes, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar last week asserted that his government was committed to preserving communal harmony in the state and would act firmly against those who tried to create mischief. “There are some people who think that causing tension in the society will bring in electoral dividends. We believe in peace and harmony. We are not concerned so much about votes as about betterment of voters,” Kumar, also the JD(U) president, said.
Here is how communal clashes spread in Bihar:
- Bhagalpur, March 17: The clashes erupted in this sensitive Bihar district, which has otherwise been calm since major riots of 1980s. Communal violence broke out in Nathnagar area of Bhagalpur when members belonging to the RSS, BJP and Bajrang Dal tried to take out a procession without seeking appropriate permission.
- More than 35 people were reported injured in Bhagalpur. Policemen also sustained injuries while trying to deal with rioters. Several shops and vehicles were set on fire. Union Minister Ashwini Choubey's son Arijit Shashwat was later booked for inciting violence.
- Siwan, March 24: A week later, communal clashes broke out in Siwan during Ram Navami procession at Hassanpura, not far from district headquarters. The two communities resorted to stone-pelting injuring several people on each side. Three to five vehicles were reportedly set afire. Later, police arrested six persons.
- Aurangabad, March 25: The next communal violence was seen in Aurangabad where stones were pelted at a Ram Navmi procession. The city reported communal clashes for two days during which at least 50 shops were gutted and over two dozen people were injured. Police arrested nearly 125 people, suspended internet services and imposed curfew in the town.
- Munger, March 27: Communal violence broke out in Munger during Ram Navami celebrations. Trouble started after members belonging to particular community protested playing of "an objectionable song" and shouting of inflammatory slogans by a group leading an idol immersion procession on the occasion of Chaiti Durga Puja.
- The fiery exchange of words gave way to physical fights followed by stone-pelting. Soon gun shots were also fired from both sides. Tension spread to several parts of Munger where vehicles were set on fire and property damaged by rioters. Damage was done to both sides.
- Samastipur, March 27: As Bihar government was getting worried with communal clashes spreading to more areas, trouble broke out in the Northern district of Samastipur. Clashes erupted here after a slipper was hurled at a procession carrying the idol of Goddess Durga for immersion.
- Soon the members belonging to two communities were engaged in clashes. A mosque was vandalized. Some people tried to hoist a saffron flag on the top of the minarets of the mosque. Curfew was imposed in Samastipur while at least 10 people including an IPS officer were injured. Vehicles were set on fire by rioters.
- Nalanda, March 28: A day after communal violence broke out in Munger and Samastipur, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's home district Nalanda was gripped by clashes. Communal conflict erupted at Silao of Nalanda district over the route of a Ram Navami procession.
- Both sides resorted to stone-pelting. Police swung into action relatively faster here and used mild force before firing tear gas shells to disperse rioters. A policeman was among around two dozen people who sustained injuries during clashes. Around 15 persons were taken into custody for rioting.
- Sheikhpura, March 28: This South-Central Bihar town witnessed almost the same template of communal violence as Nalanda. Clashes broke out over the route for Ram Navami procession. But, here those leading the procession first clashed with the police who rejected their demand to take a route than what was earlier permitted. Police resorted to batoncharge and a case was registered.
- Sitamarhi, March 29: As communal clashes continued to spread, violence took place in this border district. But the trouble was of limited scale in Sitamarhi.
- Navada, March 30: Members of two communities clashed following reports of desecration of an idol. Trouble broke out in Godapur village under Navada Town police station area after an idol was found vandalized. Navada continues to be tense. Heavy deployment of police force has been made in the district.
- Members of the two communities resorted to stone-pelting and damaged scores of vehicles on the National Highway 31. A hotel was also set on fire by the rioters. Police were reported to fire at least 10 rounds in air to bring situation under control. Journalists covering the clashes were roughed up by rioters.
(With Agency Inputs)