More than a dozen people were arrested in India’s Bihar on Sunday as raids continued in the state following two days of communal riots, according to local media.
Communal clashes were reported in West Bengal, Maharashtra, and Gujrat on Thursday and Friday during the Hindu festival of Ram Navmi which commemorates the birth of the Hindu deity Ram.
Local media said vehicles, houses as well as shops were set on fire and several people were injured.
On Saturday, ANI reported that fresh violence erupted in two to three places in Biharsharif in which one person was killed.
It quoted Superintendent of Police Ashok Mishra as saying that the person died during violence in Biharsharif and his body had been sent for a postmortem examination.
Subsequently, several arrests were made. Mishra said that eight first information reports had been filed and more than 50 people had been arrested in raids that were conducted at night.
Separately, Indian publication Scroll.in reported that authorities have banned gatherings of four or more persons in Sasaram and Biharsharif under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
It said that Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who was scheduled to take part in a function in Bihar’s Sasaram today, also canceled his visit because of the clashes.
Meanwhile, Bihar Bharatiya Janata Party chief Samrat Choudhary blamed Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for deteriorating law and order in the state, the Scroll.in report stated.
“Even Bihar Sharif, which falls in the chief minister’s home district of Nalanda, is in turmoil. So are many other parts of the state,” Choudhary was quoted as saying.
For his part, Kumar said that communal tensions during Ram Navami festivities were disturbing and asked the police to punish those responsible for the chaos.
“Such incidents happened for the first time in the area. It’s not natural…We know that some people are indulging in mischief and are trying to disrupt communal harmony in the state. We will not allow this to happen,” the report quoted the chief minister as saying.
In West Bengal, deaths were reported during the clashes.
In Howrah city in the eastern state of West Bengal, violence broke out between two groups on Thursday night, as the Ram Navami procession passed through minority community areas. Several vehicles were set on fire and shops were attacked, resulting in numerous injuries during the sporadic clashes between the two groups that lasted until Friday.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee blamed the right-wing Hindu nationalist ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for orchestrating the communal agitation and targeting one “minority community” with the support of “goons,” India Today reported.
“They are the enemies of the people of the country,” she was quoted as saying.
She claimed that “they [the attackers] were hired by the BJP and were carrying guns and petrol bombs. They first attacked people from the minority communities.”
However, Suvendu Adhikari, a senior BJP leader, accused the police of being a “silent spectator.”
According to India Today, BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar claimed that the violence was “orchestrated” by Mamata Banerjee in order to “retain her Muslim votes.”
On Saturday, Howrah Commissioner of Police Praveen Tripathi told a news conference that 38 people have been arrested for violent clashes in the city.
Over 100 more were also arrested in different states for their alleged links with the violent incidents.
This is not the first time communal clashes have erupted in India.
The rule of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party has emboldened hardline Hindu religious groups in recent years to take up causes that they say defend their faith, although his party has denied any rise in communal tensions during Modi’s reign.
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