Twenty-one people have been arrested in connection with the communal tension at Piro in Bihar’s Bhojpur district. The district administration has deployed nearly 350 policemen at 15 sensitive points in the town. Internet services in the area remain suspended to prevent spreading of rumours.
Prohibitory orders were in place for the second consecutive day on Friday. Markets remained closed and buses avoided the Piro route to Ara and Sasaram. More than a dozen people were injured in clashes in the area during immersion of Durga idols and Muharram processions in the past few days. Mobs torched about a dozen private vehicles on Thursday.
Local residents said Bhojpur District Magistrate Birendra Prasad had played a crucial role in controlling the situation. Amid rumours that Muslim homes had been attacked, agitated people from the community were reportedly heading to a Hanuman temple when Prasad intervened, they added.
Prasad told The Indian Express: “I was near the temple in Piro market area. I had only four policemen with me. I told the crowd they could cause damage to the temple only after causing harm to me. I am happy that sanity prevailed and nothing happened”. Hardware shop owner Rajendra Prasad said: “There has been too much show of strength during Tazia processions and immersion of Durga idols. What is the use of youth carrying hockey sticks during such processions? Peace committees and the administration have to sort this out.”
An elderly resident claimed that rumours led to stone-pelting on processions. “Social media messages made matters worse,” he said. The politics of Piro has for long been dominated by former JD(U) MLA Sunil Pandey. Pandey lost to a CPI(ML) candidate in the last Assembly polls.
Hindustani Awam Morcha spokesman Danish Rizwan, who belongs to Garhani town near Piro, said: “NDA leaders have been camping in the area to bring normalcy and peace.” District Magistrate Prasad said prohibitory orders would be in place till further orders. “We are assessing video footage to identify people involved in the clash. Once we bring the situation under control, we will engage peace committees.”