PATNA: Bihar’s southern town of Nawada witnessed communal clashes on Friday, causing further embarrassment to the Nitish Kumar-led NDA government after similar clashes occurred in seven other towns across the state earlier this month.
Members of two communities engaged in stone-pelting and set several vehicle and shops on fire, prompting police to wield the baton and fire teargas shells to disperse the unruly mobs. As the situation worsened, the cops fired at least ten rounds in the air. Internet services were swiftly suspended in the district to prevent spreading of rumours.
“Two communities came face to face aggressively and engaged in violence after reports of desecration of an idol. The situation is now under control,” said Nawada district magistrate Kaushal Kumar.
Divisional commissioner Jitendra Srivastava and DIG Vinay Kumar reached the town soon after the clashes and took stock of the situation.
Nawada is the parliamentary constituency of firebrand BJP leader and Union minister Giriraj Singh, who is known for his vocal expression of pro-Hindutva views.
The district had witnessed communal tension last year and also in 2013.
“All sensitive areas have been put under police deployment and the situation is being closely monitored. Efforts are on to encourage businessmen to open their shops,” said Srivastava. Police are looking at video camera footage to identify people who engaged in violence. No arrests have been made.
Trouble started after hundreds of people reached a Hanuman temple in the town and complained that the idol was desecrated on Thursday night by someone from a minority community.
The people then set some shops and vehicles on fire, but prompt police action prevented the violence to spread across the town.
Communal clashes have occurred in Bhagalpur, Aurangabad, Munger, Samastipur, Nalanda, Sheikhpura and Jamui districts earlier this month.
Nearly 50 people, including two local BJP workers, were arrested in Samastipur and Nalanda districts on Thursday in connection with the clashes there.
“RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had recently spent 14 days in Bihar. Now people realise the reason for that extended visit. He imparted training on his volunteers during those 14 days on how to incite violence,” said Opposition leader Tejashwi of RJD after the Nawada incident.
Bhagwat was in Bihar for 10 days starting February 5 and spent two days in the state in January. He had held discussions with farmers and functionaries of agriculture-related organisations on issues such as raising agricultural productivity, the need for cow protection and boosting the use of organic fertilizer.
During his February visit, Bhagwat had sparked controversy by saying in Muzaffarpur that while it takes the Army six to seven months to get ready for a war, RSS has the capacity to be ready for war within just three days.