PATNA: Communal clashes broke out in Bihar’s southern Aurangabad town during Ram Navmi processions for the second day on Monday, prompting the administration to impose curfew and make heavy deployment of police forces at sensitive areas.
Trouble started during processions taken out in the district headquarters town by various akharas at about 2 PM as per predetermined programmes duly sanctioned by the administration. “When a procession reached Islamtoli area, a stone-pelting incident was reported and a stampede-like situation arose. The stone-pelting started by both sides and the policemen had a hard time helping the procession pass through the area,” said a police official familiar with the situation.
More than 20 shops in Islamtoli, Sabzibazaar and Maharajganj Road were set afire soon after news of the stone-pelting incident spread across the town, said sources. At least six people were injured in firing at Purani Qazi Mohalla, said police sources.
With Aurangabad district magistrate Rahul Ranjan Mahiwal and SP Satya Prakash coming on the streets and trying to pacify the mobs, the acts of violence stopped at about 4 PM. The administration was careful not to allow the situation get out of control and imposed curfew in the entire town and mounted a monitoring of social media activities to prevent the spread of rumours.
“The situation is well under control. The trouble-makers are being identified. However, no shoot-at-sight orders have been issued,” said SP Satya Prakash. District police and CRPF personnel conducted flag-marches in several sensitive areas of the town. More than 50 people were taken into custody on charge of indulging in violent acts over the two days, said sources.
Led by divisional commissioner Jitendra Srivastava and DIG Vinay Kumar, senior administration officials visited various areas of the town and spoke to the residents. The officials appealed to the people to cooperate with the administration in maintaining peace in the town.
In the state Assembly, the Opposition RJD and Congress attacked the Nitish Kumar-led NDA government over the March 17 communal clashes in Bhagalpur’s Nathnagar and the present Aurangabad clashes. Nitish Kumar assured that the government is doing its best to maintain communal harmony and urged Opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav not to “over-emphasize the clashes” in order to let violent sentiments die down.
“The government is giving empty assurances as Union minister Ashwini Choubey’s son Arjit Shashwat is yet to be arrested for causing the clashes in Bhagalpur. Give me permission and four constables and I will have him arrested,” said Yadav to journalists.
Arjit Shashwat moved an anticipatory bail application at the ACJM’s court in Bhagalpur on Monday. The court had issued arrest warrants on Saturday against him and eight others accused of inciting violence at Nathnagar during a procession in a Muslim-dominated area on March 17.