Several persons were injured on Saturday when differences over hosting a tribal fair snowballed into communal clashes in Jharkhand’s Ghatsila township, police said.
The clashes highlighted the gradual polarisation of a tribal-dominated state where divisions along communal lines are very new.
Coming just weeks after a BJP-led government took charge, the violence would pose fresh challenge for Raghubar Das, the first non-tribal to become the chief minister of the state.
The Bajrang Dal and Viswa Hindu Parishad called a day-long bandh on Sunday to protest the clashes.
Giasuddin, a social worker, said that Ghatsila had never seen such communal violence and called for peace among the warring sides.
Following the clashes, the Ghatsila administration deployed Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) besides armed police in sensitive areas across the town, around 175 km from capital Ranchi.
All markets shut down following the clashes as tension gripped the town in East Singbhum district.
Sub-divisional police officer Pujya Prakash described the “situation as tense but under control.”
The clashes started after a few tribal men were allegedly assaulted by members of a community, who were objecting to holding of the annual Tusu fair in a plot of land in the Harindukri area. Later, tribals also gathered at the spot leading to a free-for-all, police added.
Held all over the state after ‘makar sankranti’, Tusu fairs are famous for cock fights besides other traditional sports.
Police said that people of Harindukri have been organising the fair in the same plot of land over the years.
According to sources, some persons with criminal background allegedly instigated the community to oppose the fair.
Police said that one Sheikh Matlub surrendered in Ghatsila police station as his name surfaced as one of the instigators.
Later, police and administration officials visited the area to pacify the people.
Several persons were admitted to the Ghatsila government hospital with injuries. A doctor at the hospital, Ankur Singh said at least three people received grievous injuries.