Curfew imposed in Jharkhand’s Hazaribagh following Ram Navami violence remained in force Monday as well. On Sunday, Hazaribagh had witnessed its first major clash between members of two communities since 1989. While the alleged trigger was an “objectionable” song played on loudspeakers during a Ram Navami procession, police officials and locals claimed that such songs had been part of the celebrations earlier as well.
“The song that is said to have led to the violence was virtually nothing. I remember last year, the lyrics were much harsher, talking about tearing off the neighbouring country. They are not community-specific, though,” said a police official in Rewali village, which has been placed under curfew.
Police officials said that puja samitis are told every year to avoid playing songs that whip up hyper-nationalistic emotions. “All these check-lists are given to them every year. They agree to them too. But every time, they try to circumvent it by using one excuse or the other,” said another police official.
Hazaribagh DIG Upendra Prasad conceded that the administration’s efforts to stop puja samitis from playing such songs had failed over the years. “Such songs, with twisted lyrics, were played in the past, too, despite efforts of the administration. It appears that the tone of the songs being played this time was much sharper,” he said.
While claiming that a total ban would be difficult, Hazaribagh SP Akhilesh Jha said the administration has been trying to ensure that such songs are played at a lower volume, at least.
Police sources also said that the tendency of the processions to halt a little while longer while passing through areas of the other community was another potential flashpoint.
Curfew was imposed in the municipal area and surrounding police station areas of Katkamdag and Pelawal after over a dozen shops and more than half-a-dozen vehicles were set on fire Sunday. The violence had started after stones were hurled at a procession by Gyan Deep Mandal Samiti, which was allegedly playing the “objectionable” song.
Jha said that over half-a-dozen suspects had been detained. “We will definitely take action against the culprits. But first, we are focusing on restoring normalcy,” he said, adding that so far, there was nothing to link four deaths reported during the clashes directly to the mob violence. “Only one person, Bhairo (Gop), died during violence. But the circumstances of his death are not yet clear. The other three appear to be cases of personal enmity,” said Jha.
On Monday, a man in his mid-20s, identified as Mohammad Naushad, a resident of Masratu village under Katkamdag police station area was found dead. Police said he was apparently attacked by unidentified assailants in Rewali village.
Police identified the other two dead as Pradip Singh alias Saurav Singh and Anuj Srivastava. Officials believe Singh and Srivastava’s deaths are not related to Sunday’s violence.
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