Rumours stoke tension in Bihar towns

Prohibitory orders were issued in Forbesganj and Bhagalpur after communal tension, stoked by rumours, gripped the two Bihar towns.

india Updated: Apr 10, 2017 18:32 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times, Patna
Communal tension,Prohibitory orders,Forbesganj
Protestors burning tyres after communal tension gripped north eastern Bihar town of Forbesganj on Monday. (HT photo)

Communal tension gripped Araria district headquarters town of Forbesganj in north-eastern Bihar and Bhagalpur in south-eastern Bihar, ironically, on a day when a national seminar held here set the tone for centenary celebration of ‘Apostle of peace’ Gandhi’s ‘Champaran satyagrah’ in 1917.

Police cane-charged a stone pelting mob as protests broke out on Monday at Forbesganj, about 294 km north east of Patna, following a clash between two groups over an alleged incident of eve-teasing on Sunday.

The market in the troubled town remained closed on Monday in protest against the incident. Yet, a protesting mob assembled in the midst of the town and set rubber tyres on fire and allegedly damaged some passing vehicles.

This caused the administration to promulgate prohibitory orders under section 144 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), to make the protestors, some of them demanding removal of Forbesganj deputy superintendent of police Ajeet Kumar Singh, to disperse.

“Five persons have been taken into custody and police investigation is underway. As a precautionary measure, restriction on the assembly of four or more persons under section 144 of CrPc has been imposed,” Purnia range deputy inspector general (DIG) of police Upendra Sinha said.

Sinha, who was camping at Forbesganj, along with other top police officers of Purnia range, appealed to people not to not pay heed to rumours being spread in connection with the clashes.

“Now the situation is under-control and police are on alert,” the DIG said, adding heavy deployment of forces had been made at Forbesganj.

Police said the clashes broke out after five persons allegedly teased a girl in the Forbesganj market on Sunday evening.

Meanwhile, some officials speculated the protests could be related to the arrest of a boy for an allegedly derogatory post on the social media site Facebook on April 7.

“The Facebook post had led to violence and an irate mob had gheraoed Forbesganj police station, leading to the arrest of the boy”, a police officer said.

“We are holding a peace committee meeting to defuse the tension,” said the officer.

In Bhagalpur, about 250 km south east of Patna, the authorities restricted access to internet services on Sunday to prevent escalation of tension brewing over recovery of objectionable items near a place of worship.

Senior superintendent of police (SSP) Manoj Kumar said the district administration had restricted access to internet services to prevent tension escalating from posts on social media sites.

Tension had been brewing in the town after some objectionable items were found in front of a temple at Jagadamba Chowk in Hussainabad Balti Karkahana area under Mujahid police station here, early Sunday morning, Kumar said.

The incident caused an irate mob to block a road by burning tyres, he said. Timely intervention by police saved the situation from worsening, the SSP said, adding that additional security forces from the neighbouring Munger district had been deputed in the town to maintain peace.

Kumar said the situation was under control.

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) public relations officer Bibekanand Tiwary confirmed the ban and said Monday the public sector telecom firm was yet to receive any order from the district administration to restore internet services.

The tensions were reported on a day when a two day national seminar on ‘Mahatma Gandhi’s life philosophy’ got underway in the State capital.

(With inputs from Aditya Nath Jha in Forbesganj and Avijit Biswas in Bhagalpur)

First Published: Apr 10, 2017 18:32 IST