Bihar clashes: CM hints at a plot, shrugs off Shah’s scrapped visit to Sasaram
“Communal tensions during Ram Navami festivities at Sasaram and Bihar Sharif are disturbing. Such incidents happened for the first time in the area. It’s not natural…We know some people are indulging in “gadbad” (mischief) and are trying to disrupt communal harmony in the state. We will not allow this to happen”
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar Saturday blamed the communal clashes during Ram Navami festivities in Sasaram and Bihar Sharif towns the previous day on “some mischief” and made light of union home minister and senior BJP leader Amit Shah cancelling his visit to Sasaram, even as the police made scores of arrests from the two towns.
“I don’t know why he (Shah) was coming and I don’t understand why he decided not to come,” Kumar told reporters in Patna on Saturday.
“Communal tensions during Ram Navami festivities at Sasaram and Bihar Sharif are disturbing. Such incidents happened for the first time in the area. It’s not natural…We know some people are indulging in “gadbad” (mischief) and are trying to disrupt communal harmony in the state. We will not allow this to happen,” the chief minister said.
On Friday, violence had erupted in Sasaram town of Rohtas district and Bihar Sharif in Nalanda district, where CM Kumar comes from, leaving several people injured, including policemen, forcing the administration to suspend mobile internet services and clamp prohibitory orders to prevent assembly of people.
Rohtas district magistrate Dharmendra Kumar, however, told HT on Saturday that prohibitory orders were not imposed in the district. He said the decision to lift the suspension of mobile internet services will be taken after reviewing the situation.
The opposition BJP in Bihar had cited prohibitory orders in Sasaram for cancellation of Shah’s visit to the town, where he was scheduled to attend a function to mark the birth anniversary of ancient emperor Ashoka at a site of prehistoric rock inscription that had been allegedly encroached by members of the minority community.
CM Kumar, however, feigned ignorance about Shah cancelling his Sasaram visit, saying he had no knowledge. “The state government makes all arrangements for the visit if ministers come from the Centre,” he said.
Meanwhile, in Bihar Sharif town of Nalanda district, most of the shops and business establishments remained shuttered on Saturday, a day after the violence and arson in which 11 vehicles, including a bus, were torched and valuables looted by rioters from some shops.
According to Nalanda district hospital doctor Viswajeet Kumar, 14 people were brought to the hospital, of which four had sustained bullet injuries. “Three of them have been referred to Patna Medical College and Hospital and one person is undergoing treatment in ICU,” he said.
Inspector general (IG) of police (Patna central range) Rakesh Rathee told HT that around 28 people have been arrested for the violence. “We are examining CCTV footages to identify culprits. Additional police forces and an RAF battalion have been deployed at the spot. Police are keeping a close watch on social media to thwart rumour-mongering,” he said.
At Sasaram, no untoward incident was reported on Saturday.
Deputy IG (Sahabad range) Navin Chandra Jha said 18 people have been arrested. “Police are patrolling the area to build confidence among locals. A peace committee meeting was also held,” he said.
Meanwhile, isolated incidents of stone pelting were also reported from Gaya and Naugachhia in Bhagalpur district.
Police said at least five people, including two constables, were injured in Gaya.
According to Gaya SSP Ashish Bharti, 16 people have been arrested.
At Naugachhia, minor clashes between two communities took place over idol immersion, leaving four persons, including a woman, injured. “Situation is under control now,” said Naugachhia SP Sushant Kumar Saroj.
(With inputs from Prasun K Mishra, Bhabua)