A Bhagalpur court on Saturday rejected the anticipatory bail plea of Union minister and BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Choubey’s son Arijit Shashwat, facing arrest in a case relating to communal clashes in the district. Additional District and Sessions Judge Kumud Ranjan turned down the bail plea filed by the 38-year-old Shashwat.
The court pronounced a one-line order that Shashwat’s plea is rejected, his lawyer Viresh Kumar Mishra told PTI. Shashwat had moved the court after an arrest warrant was issued against him a week earlier. “We are conducting raids in Bhagalpur and other parts of Bihar to trace Shashwat,” Bhagalpur SSP Manoj Kumar said. He said Shashwat’s mobile phone has been switched off.
Kumar said “if required, we may initiate action against Shashwat under sections 82 and 83 of Criminal Procedure Code, relating to declaring a person as an absconder and attachment of his property”. The arrest warrant was issued against Shashwat and eight others after they were named in an FIR filed at Nathnagar police station of Bhagalpur in connection with the clashes that broke out between members of two communities on March 17. Shashwat had unsuccessfully contested 2015 Assembly polls from Bhagalpur town on a BJP ticket. He lost to Congress’s Ajit Sharma.
Heavy stone-pelting and even exchange of fire was witnessed during the violence in which several persons, including two policemen, were injured. The clashes had followed a skirmish between residents of Nathnagar and those participating in a procession, taken out on ‘New Year’ as per the Hindu calendar. The procession was led by the Union minister’s son. The locals had objected to playing of loud music during the procession.
The violence was also the first in a series of minor communal riots witnessed in several districts of the state. Communal passions have have peaked in Aurangabad, Nalanda, Samastipur, Sheikhpura and Nawada districts following the Ram Navami festivities. The opposition has criticised the Nitish Kumar government as the administration has failed to arrest Shashwat. Notes of discord have also emerged within the ruling JD(U)-BJP combine over the issue. The BJP has blamed the recent spurt in communal flare-ups on the RJD, though JD(U) leaders like K C Tyagi and Shyam Rajak have issued statements asking Shashwat to surrender.
The chief minister has cautioned people against getting swayed by communal passions, especially whipped up by rumours on social media. On Monday, Shashwat had said he would not surrender as he was “not a fugitive”. The young BJP leader has charged the local police with acting as per the directions of a local MLA, apparently from the Congress and lodging a “fabricated” case.