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regular-article-logo Saturday, 18 May 2024

Biharsharif violence: People’s Union for Civil Liberties report blames Bajrang Dal for flare-up

Report criticises Nitish Kumar government for failing to control violence and seeks compensation for people affected

Dev Raj Patna Published 18.05.23, 04:09 AM
Representational image

Representational image File picture

A People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) report released on Wednesday on the Biharsharif communal violence blames the involvement of organisations like the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Bajrang Dal, the negligence of police and the absence of paramilitary forces for the flare-up.

The report criticises the government of chief minister Nitish Kumar for its failure to control the violence quickly and seeks compensation for the people affected and a deep investigation into the use of religious processions to spread hatred and violence. It also demands an investigation into the role of the VHP and the Bajrang Dal.

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The violence in Biharsharif broke out during a Ram Navami procession on March 30. It continued for several days. One person was killed and many were injured, while property belonging to the people of both communities was damaged.

The police have arrested around 148 people in connection with the violence, while several others have surrendered in court. The district convenor of the Bajrang Dal, identified as Kundan Kumar, and several of his associates are among those arrested.

A four-member PUCL fact-finding team visited Biharsharif on April 8. State council member Chakravarti Ashok Priyadarshi, state unit vice-president Father Jose and members Ghalib Khan and Vrati Kumar were part of the team. The team met people affected by the violence and district administration officials. It also collected statements and testimonies during the interactions.

“The fact-finding team concludes that the police showed incredible negligence in managing and preventing the violence. It was either a failure of intelligence or of the police to act on it. The team feels that the latter is more likely as people were aware that the preparation for violence had been going on for months,” the report says.

The eight-page report asserts that it was a failure on the part of the state to allow the flare-up to fester and calls for a probe into it. The police should have been better prepared with reinforcements as the crowd in the procession swelled, the PUCL said. There were no police cordons and flag marches around the event. Paramilitary forces were also not present in Biharsharif town when the violence started.

“The number of participants in the procession was around 30,000 to 40,000 though the district administration had given permission for only 5,000. It is evident that some big organisations like the VHP and the Bajrang Dal were involved in the incident. Their motive and actions must be investigated properly,” the report says.

Talking about the suspected involvement of the VHP and the Bajrang Dal, the report has provided testimonies of people that say around 4,000 swords had been distributed for the Ram Navami procession. Many unemployed youths were given money, new clothes and petrol for their motorcycles to participate in the procession, the report says. Provocative slogans were put up on hoardings.

The PUCL report suggests that the Biharsharif violence could be a result of a “trial run” of violence during a Ram Navami procession in Muzaffarpur district in 2022 in which a mosque was attacked.

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