With unrest continuing in Nawada on Tuesday following communal clashes in which two persons were killed, the Bihar government has ordered invoking of the National Security Act that allows preventive detention.
Curfew was on in Nawada, 120km from Patna, for the second day on Tuesday with not a single shop remaining open, even as fresh incidents of violence were reported from several localities, despite chief minister Nitish Kumar’s appeal for calm to all communities. Police fired upon troublemakers, who defied curfew and exploded bombs in which an advocate was injured.
Fifteen persons have been detained in connection with the communal clashes, said Nawada superintendent of police MS Dhillon.
Neighbouring Nalanda district, Kumar’s native turf, was put on high alert, with heavy deployment of police personnel to prevent violence from spreading.
Communal clashes, which began three days ago, turned uglier on Monday when a mob attacked Bundelkhand police outpost and resorted to violence at Seema Talkies where more than two dozen Kanwarias (Hindu pilgrims) and several policemen were injured.
When a group attacked the police outpost, there was firing from the other side, which claimed the life of 24-year-old Md Iqbal. He was rushed to the sadar hospital, where he was declared him “brought dead”. In anger, the mob set fire to over a dozen shops. Several commuters were injured in the attack.
Police had to resort to firing on Monday evening too following a violent clash between two groups, in which at least half a dozen people were seriously injured.
Communal tension started on Saturday after a quarrel between a group of Kanwarias and members of another community at a roadside eatery in Nawada. This led to the death of Kundan Kumar Razak, an intermediate student of Gandhi Inter School in the town. Kundan received two bullets in his head.
“Curfew was imposed in Nawada town, as the situation went out of control after a violent clash between two communities,” Nawada superintendent of police MS Dhillon said. “Additional security forces from nearby districts, besides two companies of Rapid Action Force (RAF), have been deployed.” He added that patrolling had been intensified.
Senior police officers, including Patna zonal inspector general Sushil M Khopde, deputy inspector general NH Khan, Nalanda superintendent of police Nishant Tewari and his Sheikhpura counterpart Meenu Kumari as well as rural development department secretary B Rajendra were camping in Nawada.
District authorities imposed curfew in the town for a few hours on Saturday, but later lifted it. However, with unabated violence, curfew had to be re-imposed. Assistant sub-inspector Kamal Narain Singh of Nawada town police station was suspended for dereliction of duty.
District magistrate Adesh Titermare said the priority was to bring the situation under control. “Once that is achieved, we will take action under NSA,” he added.
Only one FIR has been lodged in connection with the clashes on the basis of a statement by the eatery owner where the first clash took place. Four persons have been named as accused in the FIR.
Local residents are demanding the transfer of the sub-divisional officer and the deputy superintendent of police for their alleged “partisan” attitude. A senior official in the home department said both officials have been kept away.