Police are looking into the possibility of deliberate and organised attempts being mounted to disrupt communal harmony in Jharkhand — and thereby influence the polls in neighbouring Bihar — after meat was found outside four temples in the past 48 hours.
The first incident, in Ranchi late on Friday, had triggered violence that shut down the capital on Saturday. Subsequently, meat has been found outside temples in Lohardaga, Palamu and Chatra districts.
While Palamu and Chatra share long borders with Bihar, Ranchi and Lohardaga are closer to West Bengal and Chhattisgarh.
At Lohardaga, meat was found outside a Durga temple in the Lawagai village within Kudu police station limits on Saturday morning. “Three people — all Muslims — were arrested after they were named in the FIR, but prima facie we think they were not involved. The investigation is ongoing,” said SP Manoj Ratan Chothe.
A bandh was subsequently called on Sunday by an organisation called the Shri Ram Samiti and the Bajrang Dal. “There was some tension in the village and Lohardaga town, but we managed to contain it by heavy deployment,” said SP Chothe. About 60 people were detained and later released on personal bail.
At Palamu’s Satbarwa town, meat was found outside the Thakurbari temple at around 3 am on Sunday, leading to RSS members putting up a road blockade in the town till 1.45 pm. “Some community leaders came to us with complaints, but they returned peacefully after we explained the situation to them,” said SP Mayur Patel Kanaiya Lal.
At Chatra too, meat was found on Sunday morning, this time outside a Devi Mandap at Humaganj village within Pratappur Police Station limits. “The Bajrang Dal called for a bandh, but they called it off later. We held a meeting of the peace committee and it helped calm tempers,” said SDPO Gyan Ranjan.
At both Palamu and Chatra — which saw no violence — police are yet to make arrests.
Ranchi police are yet to make any arrests in both Friday’s incident, when the hide of a bovine was found outside a Kali temple in the Lower Hinoo locality, and Saturday’s violence. “We are studying video footage before making any arrests,” said police spokesperson and ADG (Operations) S N Pradhan.
He said police were tracking the four incidents closely. “We have not yet established a connection so far, but are investigating some individuals. We cannot rule out the possibility that this was done to influence elections in Bihar,” Pradhan said.
Ranchi remained tense but calm on Sunday with flag marches and peace rallies being taken out.
Last month, The Indian Express had reported on a three-fold surge in “communal incidents” in Bihar after BJP-JD(U) parted ways in June 2013. Reacting to the report, JD(U) president Sharad Yadav had alleged that these incidents were attempts to polarise the electorate ahead of the elections next month.
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