UNION MINISTER of State Ashwini Kumar Choubey’s son Arjit Shaswat and eight others have been booked for rioting and inciting violence, two days after a procession of BJP, RSS and Bajrang Dal workers triggered communal clashes in Medini Chowk under Nathnagar police station, a Muslim-dominated area, in Bhagalpur.
A second FIR has been filed against 10 residents of the area under the Arms Act for carrying weapons and allegedly opening fire.
“We have filed two separate FIRs. In the first FIR, BJP leader Arjit Shaswat and eight others have been named under various sections of the IPC and Loudspeaker Act. They had not sought permission for the motorcycle rally. If the administration had granted permission, it would have decided the route and made arrangements accordingly,” Bhagalpur DIG Vikas Vaibhav told The Indian Express.
Besides Shaswat, the FIR names Abhay Kumar Ghosh, Pramod Verma, Dev Kumar Pandey (a close aide of Choubey), Niranjan Singh, Sanjay Singh, Surendra Pathak, Anup Lal Sah, Pranav Sah — all local BJP leaders. They have all been charged under IPC Sections 147,148 and 149 (unlawful assembly and rioting), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings) and 188 (disobedience to order by public servants).
The second FIR has been filed against some residents — Bikram Yadav, Pinta Yadav, Manish Yadav, Pankaj Yadav, Shankar Yadav, Mohammed Shami Ansari, Mohammed Sonu, Mohammed Munna, Mohammed Jasim and Taha Alam — under the Arms Act and IPC Sections 147,148 and 149 (unlawful assembly and rioting), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 337 and 338 (endangering life and safety of others), 307 (attempt to murder), 341 (wrongful restraint), 353 (assault or wrongful force to deter public servants from doing their duty), 379 (theft) and 427 (mischief causing damage).
The procession, organised by the Bharatiya Navvarsh Jagran Samiti on the eve of the Hindu New Year on Saturday evening, passed through a 15-km route, which included at least half-a-dozen Muslim-dominated areas. Abhay Kumar Ghosh, convenor of the Samiti, had claimed that they had obtained permission for the rally.
According to Lalmatia outpost in-charge Sanjeev Kumar, who was deployed in Nathnagar, some of the slogans raised by the participants were “provocative”, and could have triggered the stone-pelting in which three policemen were injured.
Shaswat told The Indian Express on Sunday that he was about “3-4 kms from the spot when the stone-pelting took place”. He was not available for comment on Monday.
“I am proud that Arijit is my son. All BJP workers are like my son. Is there anything wrong in leading a procession to celebrate the Hindu New Year? Kya Bharat Ma ki baat karna galat hai? Kya Vande Mataram kehna gunah hai? (Is it a crime to talk about Bharat Ma? Is it a crime to say Vande Mataram?),” Choubey, Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, said on Sunday.
Shaswat, an MBA with an engineering degree from BIT Mesra, quit his job in Australia in 2006 to join politics. After Choubey was elected to the Lok Sabha from Buxar in 2014, the Congress won the Bhagalpur assembly bypoll. In the 2015 assembly polls, Shaswat contested from his father’s bastion as a BJP candidate, but lost.
“There was a clash between two groups, and an attempt was made to vitiate the atmosphere,” Bihar DGP K S Dwivedi said.
Meanwhile, speaking on the occasion of former minister Narendra Singh joining the JD(U), Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said his government would not compromise on matters related to “corruption or communal harmony”.