The communal clash that erupted in Bihar's Nawada town on Saturday is lingering and the police had to resort to firing to control the situation. What is more worrying is the fact that it is not an isolated incident.
Communal polarization ahead of the 2014 election is something that many fear, and reports from Bihar, a crucial state with 40 parliament seats, indicate it is a distinct possibility. In the last one and half months, there has been a sudden spurt in communal tension across Bihar.
The start of this heightened tension coincides with the spilt between the JDU and BJP in mid-June over the elevation of Narendra Modi as BJP's campaign committee chief that triggered an intense phase of polarising political diatribe between all parties.
In the last six weeks, two dozen cases of communal clashes have been recorded in Bihar, which is roughly six times the average for several years in the state. In July, the state had 16 cases as opposed to two to four a month that the state recorded in an average month earlier.
In the four weeks preceding the split between the JDU and BJP, only four cases were reported but the four weeks that followed recorded 18 incidents. "And the trend is continuing unabated. Any small incident could suddenly take a communal turn," a senior police officer from Bihar told Hindustan Times.
Communal situation in Uttar Pradesh, another crucial state with 80 LS seats is already volatile as 2012 and initial months of 2013 recorded serious violence across the state. Thirty-nine people were killed and 500 injured in 118 incidents across UP in 2012.
In 2013, sixty-eight people were injured in 24 incidents until March. These numbers show a stark rise from the previous year, and an ongoing cow protection campaign by Sangh Parivar affiliates is a key source of conflict in many cases, said a UP official.
The ruling Samajwadi Party is not far behind in polarising politics either as it showed while linking the suspension of IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal to Muslim rights.
The emerging trend of communal friction also points to a possible realignment of social forces in Bihar - in around half of the recently reported cases in the state, the clashes took place between Yadavs and Muslims.
The famed Muslim-Yadav social combination has been the bedrock of backward politics in UP and Bihar, presided over by Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Prasad Yadav respectively, since early 1990s.
With Lalu's rival and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar making a pitch for Muslim votes in the aftermath of his split with the BJP, fault-lines are emerging between these two communities too.