The spate of communal violence in Bihar that spread to nine out of 38 districts was “not at all spontaneous” but “pre-planned” and “manufactured” to achieve “political gains”. There were prior inputs, say those who are closely monitoring the situation, regarding this plan but the alerts were not acted upon to prevent the communal atmosphere from getting disturbed.
One person was killed and around 65 were injured in communal clashes that erupted after Ram Navami processions in nine districts – Bhagalpur, Munger, Samastipur, Siwan, Gaya, Aurangabad, Kaimur, Nawada and Nalanda. Several people have been arrested in connection with these riots and over a dozen of them are BJP workers, including two senior leaders – Mohan Patwa and Dinesh Kumar Jha. One of the primary suspects – Arijit Shashwat, the son of Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare in the Ashwini Kumar Choubey, is on the run.
“It was pre-planned and the aim was to polarise the society on communal lines. People from neighbouring states such as eastern Uttar Pradesh had been called in to take part in processions (to mark the birth anniversary of Lord Rama) and begin the violence. New and common faces have been spotted in different districts, leading the processions and instigating people to indulge in violence,” two high-ranking officials of the state police told Newsclick on condition of anonymity.
“Thankfully, locals understood the conspiracy and did not take part in the violence. Had their involvement been there, the situation would have been beyond imagination,” one of them said.
Asked about the lapses on part of the police, they said the places where the administration was alert, attempts to create tensions were either foiled or controlled. “Investigations are on, the culprits won’t be spared. They will be brought to book,” said the officers.
Two senior journalists, Newsclick spoke to, also said “it was a pre-planned attacks” and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had “inputs well in advance” that a conspiracy was being hatched to disrupt peace in the state. “Therefore, he (the CM) had appealed to people with folded hands during Bihar Diwas celebrations not to get misguided,” said veteran journalist Gyaneshwar, the editor of website LiveCities.
Asked if the chief minister – who is also the home minister of the state – had the information that something of this sort could happen, what steps did he take to prevent it from occurring, he said, “I can say it with conviction that Nitish Kumar did not want that to happen because of the fact that such violence would dent his image and damage his party’s (the Janata Dal United) prospects in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. It is the BJP (which is alliance partner of the Bihar government) that will enjoy the benefits of communal polarisation and therefore, its leaders actively participated in vitiating the atmosphere in the state.”
To establish his allegations, he said that the state had no tradition of organised processions on the occasion of Rama Navami.
“Of late, the festival has been completely politicised and is being celebrated as display of strength. With political patronage and backing of saffron outfits, people in large number – armed with swords and other weapons – make forced entry into Muslim concentration areas and raise provocative slogans. Surprisingly, we have seen active participation of BJP leaders in such events. We heard Aurangabad MP Sushil Kumar Singh who said that ‘there is a reaction to an action’ (on March 26, following which communal clashes erupted). He instigated the violence,” he added, asking “What kind of culture is this and where are we as a society heading to?”
He alleged that swords were being distributed in several subdivisions of Bihar along with CDs and pen drives containing objectionable songs. He claimed he too has such a pen drive in his possession that has an objectionable song ‘Topi Pahanne Wale Ko Bhi, Jai Shri Ram Kahna Hoga’.
“We are also Hindus. We never went to purchase swords ahead of Rama Navami. From where were such a huge number of swords and other weapons brought? I have information that they were brought from outside, stacked and distributed in a planned manner. A senior officer told me the number of swords sold this year ahead of Rama Navami had not been sold in the entire district for the past 10 years. The administration must investigate this as well,” he said.
“For festivals such as Dussehra, Saraswati Puja, etc., funds are collected from public donations. But in this case, no one came asking for donations required to organise Rama Navami processions. Who has funded the event and from where it came from? It should also be probed,” he concluded.
Another senior journalist Shailendra Dixit told Newsclick,“If you connect all dots, you will conclude that it was planned riots designed by vested interest. Bihar was tactically chosen this time because of its peaceful atmosphere. UP is volatile, one small ignition creates a huge fire. It exposes the people behind that. Creating low-scale violence, a particular party is trying to polarise the society to ensure large number of seats from Bihar where public sentiments are visibly in favour of the opposition party – the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).”
A senior JD(U) leader said the BJP wants to use Bihar as a laboratory of communal violence. “This is the only tool they use to win elections,” he said on condition of anonymity.
Asked why the CM is silent, the infuriated leader said, “Amit Shah had recently said that Nitish Kumar had come to us, we had not gone to him for alliance. We never compromised on secularism despite the fact that we had an alliance with the BJP for the past 10 years. This time, Amit Shah and Modi (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) are dictating the terms. They are in fact ruling the state and Nitishji is acting like a puppet. What maximum he can do is, he will dial Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and appeal to calm down the situation.”