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Case lodged against Bihar minister’s son for communal tension

Janeefuddin said that an investigation has begun into Shashwat’s role in the clashes that took place in Nathnagar on Saturday.

india Updated: Mar 19, 2018 21:44 IST
Avijit Biswas/Avinash Kumar
Avijit Biswas/Avinash Kumar
Hindustan Times, Bhagalpur/Patna
Ashwani Choubey,Bihar,Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare
A case was lodged against Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Ashwani Choubey’s son in connection with communal clashes during a procession in Bihar’s Bhagalpur district.(PTI File Photo)

The Bihar Police on Sunday booked Arjit Shashwat, son of Union minister of state Ashwini Kumar Choubey for inciting communal passion by taking out an ‘unauthourised’ procession and triggering riots in Bhagalpur town on Saturday.

No one has been arrested yet.

Shashwat had led the procession organised by the Bharatiya Navvarsh Jagran Samiti on the eve of the Hindu New Year. The procession passed through a 15-km route, which included at least half-a-dozen predominantly Muslim localities. The clashes occurred in Medini Chowk under Nathnagar police station.

Several people including policemen were injured when the rioters from two communities indulged in vandalism and brick-batting. The situation returned to normalcy after the government deployed a company of Rapid Action Force (RAF) and the Central Para Military Force (CPMF) besides discontinuing internet services to check rumours.

Following instructions from the government, the police headquarters carried out a probe that found Shashwat was among those responsible for triggering the communal clash.

Police said Shashwat has been booked for taking out a procession without permission, inciting communal sentiments and roaming on road displaying arms. “A sub-inspector, Hari Kishore Singh, who was witness to the development, lodged the FIR,” a senior police officer in Patna said.

Shashwat, who unsuccessfully fought the last assembly elections as the BJP candidate from Bhagalpur, refuted the allegations. He said that Hindus irrespective of party affiliations had taken out a motorcycle procession that came under heavy stone pelting at Nathnagar.

“The police jeep was moving ahead of me. You can check video clips of the incident to confirm what I am saying,” he told a local newspaper.

His father, a parliamentarian from Buxar said, “It’s not a crime to say Vande Matram, Jai Shree Ram and Jai Hind. The allegations that no permission was taken from the administration to take out the procession to mark the Hindu New Year is false. If there was no police permission, why didn’t the administration stop it before it began? The administration is trying to escape from its responsibility from punishing the culprits who resorted to vandalism and brick batting,” said Choubey, a fire brand BJP leader.

Police said two separate FIRs have been lodged in connection with the riot. While Shashwat is an accused along with eight others in one FIR, the police have booked 20 Muslim and Yadav leaders besides 500 unknown people in the other FIR.

“Both sides not only engaged in arson and brick-batting but also exchanged gunfire. They rioters ran amok and burnt shops and motorcycles in market places,” Nathnagar SHO, Md Jainuddin said.

A senior police officer preferring not to be named said that the Bhagalpur SSP office had received a letter informing him about the procession barely two hours before it began. The letter did not carry details of the route and number of people participating in it, he said. The officer said majority of policemen of the district were deployed on Saturday at Vikramsheela Mahotsav, a state sponsored programme organized during spring.

“We haven’t arrested anyone so far,” said Bhagalpur SSP, Majoj Kumar. He said the priority was to ensure that peace and normalcy returned to the town. “Once we start identifying all accused, we will start arresting them,” he added.

Bhagalpur is one of the most communally sensitive places in the country. In 1989, the town witnessed one of the worst riots in which more than 1000 people were killed.

First Published: Mar 19, 2018 12:41 IST