Since January 2010, for the last three and a half years that the BJP and Janata Dal (United) were together in power, there were 226 “communal incidents” across Bihar — incidents where Hindus and Muslims, the two largest religious groups in the state, were pitted against each other. Each incident was recorded by the local police station and classified as “communal”.
But since June 2013, when the two parties split and up to just a month ago, in the run-up to the Assembly elections, that number has surged to 667.
This is among the key findings of a two-month investigation by The Indian Express of police records from 38 districts of the state and a journey criss-crossing the 18 districts that account for more than 70 per cent of these incidents.
Most of these incidents are clashes sparked off by clearly deliberate triggers: dumping of animal parts in places of worship (pigs near mosques, beef near temples); provocative sloganeering during processions passing through Muslim-majority neighbourhoods; and communalisation of even trivial incidents such as a dispute during a cricket match as to who was hit by a ball; vandalisation of idols.
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