Security forces staged a flag march in Jharkhand’s Satbarwa town on Thursday to diffuse tension following clashes between Hindu activists and Muslim traders over transportation of cattle the previous night.
Several parts of Jharkhand have witnessed communal violence and related incidents over the past few months. Two Muslim cattle herders including a minor boy were killed and hanged at Jhabar village in the state’s Latehar district in March triggering nationwide outrage.
Police said in the latest incident, activists of Hindu rightwing groups on Wednesday night attacked Muslim cattle traders in Palamu disrtrict and “freed” more than 100 bovines that were being allegedly taken for slaughter.
The traders, however, said the livestock was being taken for transportation outside the state.
The cattle herders were allegedly thrashed when they protested the seizure by the locals.
Sources said that the cattle were later forcibly taken away by a group of Muslims from the Satbarwa police station where they were kept.
“They (the cattle smugglers) attacked us and ran away with the cattle right in front of the police station when we were herding the cattle to hand them over to the police. We suspect that it was not possible without police support,” said Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) leader Vikas Tiwary.
Irate over the “audacity”, villagers blocked the movement of vehicles on the national highway 75 for more than 30 minutes besides trying to set on fire a bike. The blockade was lifted after police assured action.
Palamu superintendent of police Mayur Patel said, “The situation was totally under control. The locals had seized cattle being transported outside and had informed the police.”
The SP, however, denied that the cattle herders were thrashed by the mob. “We have not received any complained in this regard.”
Palamu deputy superintendent of police PR Barwar said a flag march was carried out to “instill confidence among the locals”.
He, however, denied complaints regarding transportation of cattle, its seizure and subsequent release. “We will act once any complaint is lodged in this regard.”