At least three persons were burnt to death after a mob set on fire around a dozen houses at Bahilwada Bhuwal village in Bihar's Muzaffarpur district on Sunday following the recovery of a youth's body.
The body of 19-year-old Bhartendu Kumar was found near the house of one Vikki, who is the main accused in the abduction and murder case, a police officer said. The boy had gone missing around 10 days ago.
Atul Prasad, a Bihar state administrator, said a minority community was blamed for the killing of the boy who was friendly with a Muslim girl from the village, 105km north of Patna.
Family members of Bhartendu had lodged an FIR with Saraiya police station, alleging that the boy had been kidnapped by relatives of the girl.
As soon as the news spread, a mob gathered near Vikki's residence and torched it along with other houses, senior superintendent of police (SSP) Ranjeet Kumar Mishra said.
The situation took an ugly turn when a group, angry with the news about Bhartendu’s death, attacked the house of the accused.
“Following retaliation, the attackers went on the rampage and set 10 houses belonging to another group on fire. Around 15 vehicles were also gutted,” said a villager.
The bodies were yet to be identified as all three were charred beyond recognition.
District magistrate Anupam Kumar and SSP Mishra rushed to the village with heavy reinforcements to bring the situation under control.
“We have to work hard to control the situation. We have talked with responsible persons from both the groups and requested them to maintain restraint,” said SSP Mishra.
He said that suitable lawfulful action would be initiated against the people responsible for the incident.
“No one will be spared if found guilty. We are verifying the facts and responsible persons would be identified after reviewing the video footage of the incident,” he said, adding that some anti-socials were trying to disrupt social harmony.
Speaking to HT, additional director general of police (ADG, headquarters) Gupteshwar Pandey said the incident was prima facie triggered by a love affair.
According to reports, 14 people were arrested in connection with the clashes. Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi ordered a high-level inquiry into the clash and the subsequent arson. He also announced Rs 5 lakh each as compensation to the nearest of the kin of the deceased.