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Over 40 injured in communal clashes across Bihar during Saraswati idol immersion

Feb 17, 2024 08:16 PM IST

Officials said that internet services were suspended in Darbhanga district on Saturday for 48 hours following violence and continuing tension between the two communities since Wednesday

Patna: More than 40 people have been injured in communal clashes that broke out in several parts of Bihar in the wake of Saraswati idol immersion, police said on Saturday, adding they have arrested 50-odd suspects in Darbhanga alone.

Clashes were reported from Bhagalpur, Saharsa, Sitamarhi, Sheikhpura, Siwan and Jamui during the idol immersion after Saraswati puja since Wednesday (Twitter/screengrab)

In Darbhanga, a clash broke out between two communities in Bahera market on Friday. Police said they have lodged separate first information reports with Bahera, Bishanpur, Hayaghat and Bhalpatti police stations against 170 named accused and 400 unidentified people.

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“At least 53 named accused have been arrested and sent to judicial custody. Raids are on to nab the rest,” said Darbhanga senior SP Jagunath Jala Reddy.

“Under the Bahera police station area, a clash broke out between two communities during idol immersion. The officials reached the spot and brought the situation under control,” Darbhanga district magistrate Rajeev Raushan told reporters.

Clashes were also reported in Bhagalpur, Saharsa, Sitamarhi, Sheikhpura, Siwan and Jamui during the idol immersion after Saraswati puja, police said.

In Bhagalpur, a clash erupted between two groups after stones were allegedly pelted at a procession en route to immerse the Goddess Saraswati idol in the Lodipur area on Friday, said police.

According to the police, gunshots were also fired during the clashes in which about 15 people who were part of the procession were injured.

The situation was brought under control after a police contingent led by Bhagalpur City superintendent of police (SP) Raj arrived at the scene, said officials aware of the matter.

Subdivisional magistrate (SDM) Dhananjay Kumar said, “CCTV footage is being scrutinized to identify culprits. People are requested not to fall for any kind of rumours that might be spread through social media.”

In Saharasa, a clash between two groups in Nariyar Lataha Tola locality left four people injured, and in Sheikhpura, six people were injured in a similar clash, police said. Sheikhpura SP Baliram Kumar Choudhary said that some miscreants attempted to loot a mobile phone outlet.

In Sitamarhi, violence erupted in the Kanhauli police station area, leaving half a dozen people injured. Gunshots were also fired, said police.

In Bahuara village of Siwan district, half a dozen people were injured in stone pelting, while more than 10 people were injured in a clash in Jamui district. “People involved in the violence have been identified,” said Khaira police station house officer (SHO) Shashi Bhusan Jha.

Officials said that internet services were suspended in Darbhanga district on Saturday for 48 hours following violence and continuing tension between the two communities since Wednesday. The suspension will be lifted on Monday.

The district administration took the decision, saying that it was necessary to stop rumour-mongering on various social media platforms, YouTube channels and instant messaging services.

“We took the decision (of suspending the internet) due to incidents of violence. Rumours are being spread through Internet-based applications and services. Various social media platforms, mushrooming YouTube channels and so-called news portals are spreading baseless things,” said an official familiar with the matter.

According to the notification issued by the additional chief secretary to the government Dr S Siddharth, “Whereas, as per available inputs and as reported by the DM and SSP of Darbhanga, some anti-social element in Darbhanga may use internet medium to transit objectionable content in order to spread rumour and disaffection amongst public at large with a view to incite them to commit various offences against communal harmony and cause damage to life and property and disturb peace and tranquillity.”

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