Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has asked police to find out why communal incidents have been reported in areas with no such history, even as previously sensitive areas have reported less cases in the last couple of years.
After holding a law and order meeting on Wednesday, the CM sounded an alert ahead of Muharram and Dussehra. “All communal incidences reported in the recent past have to be assessed. Reasons have to be found out why communal incidences have been reported from new areas while such incidences have subsided in known sensitive areas,” he said in a press release.
A senior police officer who attended the meeting told The Indian Express: “As there was a spurt in communal cases in March during Ram Navami processions, we were told to be extra careful ahead of Dussehra and Muharram against any evil designs to vitiate the atmosphere.” He said that though no separate record of communal cases was maintained, the police had found a pattern of crowds provoking communal violence by insisting on taking out religious processions through minority-dominated belts, as was seen in Nalanda, Shekhpura and Aurangabad.
The police officer said that all cases of communal incidents were being thoroughly investigated. “We are also trying to find out if new swords were purchased or supplied.”
In March, the state had seen 11 communal incidents, with arson reported in some areas, and stone-pelting, lathicharge and tear gas shells in others. Many of these areas had no history of such disturbance. “In a case of stone-pelting between two groups in Silao, Nalanda, in March, two Bajrang Dal workers were booked,” he said.
Another police officer said they had been keeping a watch on little-known small organisations such as Hindu Sewa Samiti in Aurangabad (one of its workers was named in the Aurangabad violence), and Hindu Putra Sangathan, which was under the scanner after violence in Samastipur.
The police officer said another trend was the increasing use of social media, especially WhatsApp, to fuel communal tension. “But the biggest challenge is increasing display of swords during processions. Ram Navami processions in Shekhpura, Nalanda and Aurangabad showed threefold increase in sword display over last year. We are keeping a tight vigil on supply of new swords,” he said.
The Indian Express had reported in April that there had been 200 incidents of communal tension between July 2017 and March 2018. Fifty communal incidents were reported in 2012, 112 in 2013, 110 in 2014, 155 in 2015, and 230 in 2016. At 270, the year 2017 recorded the highest number of communal incidents.