BHAGALPUR/NEW DELHI: No sooner had the Rashtriya Janata Dal won the recent Lok Sabha by poll from Araria, that the constitutency was gripped by violence following the circulation of a video with alleged anti-national slogans. RJD Rajya Sabha MP, Manoj Jha said that the video was doctored as it showed people celebrating the new MPs victory, with the slogans being changed in what he said was classical BJP strategy,

Araria MP Sarfaraz Alam when contacted said that there should be an independent probe to establish the authenticity of the video. Significantly Bihars new Director General of Police K.S. Dwivedi has claimed that the video is genuine, without any investigation or expert examination. Dwivedi was the Superintendent of Police, Bhagalpur, when the large scale violence had taken place in the district. Jha said that Dwivedi had been appointed as the DGP now by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar “under direct pressure of the BJP and RSS.” He said that Kumar is now completely under the BJPs thumb and is following their every instruction.

Alam said that the violence in Araria had abated, largely because of the efforts of citizens. It has spread subsequently to Bhagalpur where the two communities clashed following a Hindu New Year march taken out by the BJP/RSS/Bajrang Dal workers through Muslim dominated areas. According to reports from the ground, provocative slogans led to resistance and subsequent violence. There was heavy stone pelting that continued till close to an hour as the two sides clashed, and the police finally moved in and restored some semblance of order.

The march was being led by Arijit Choubey, son of Union Minister Ashwini Choubey. Shops were attacked, and several rounds of firing were reported. Six policemen were injured, as well as several civilians with the numbers still not confirmed. Arijit Choubey has now been booked in connection with the communal violence with IANS news agency quoting police officer Md Janeefuddin, “Two cases were lodged in in connection with the clashes. The first was against conducting the procession without permission, inciting communal sentiment and roaming on roads while displaying arms in which Choubey’s son Arijit Shashwat and 20 others were named as accused.”

Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Ashwini Choubey has subsequently come out in defence of his son and the BJP/RSS procession saying that the district administration had given permission for the rally. He added, “I am proud that Arijit is my son. All BJP workers are like my son. Is there anything wrong in leading a procession to celebrate the Hindu New Year? Kya Ma Bharat ki baat karna galat hai? Kya Vande Mataram kehna gunah hai? (Is it a sin to talk about Bharat Ma? Is it a sin to say Vande Mataram?)”

Reports from the ground suggest that the highly belligerent rally wound its way through a 15 km route in Bhagalpur town, passing at least six or more Muslim dominated areas. It is not clear whether permission for the rally had been given, with a section of the police insisting it was not and the right wing organisers claiming the necessary clearance was given. However, the fact remains that the police did not try to stop the motorcycle rally that became loud and provocative when passing through the minority areas. This led to a clash in Medini chowk under Nathnagar police station where independent witnesses told the media that ‘provocative’ slogans were raised.

The clash turned violent with the police not responding as heavy stone pelting, and reportedly firing, took a toll of communal amity, leaving several injured. There was no effort by the administration to stop the procession, or to divert it through less sensitive areas. This has led to a strong attack on Kumar by the local Opposition with the RJD in the lead. Nitish Kumar is being accused of being partial to the BJP and RSS, and allowing the violence to take place.

RJD MP Manoj Jha said that the Chief Minister’s independence has been compromised and he is following orders from the BJP. He said that this was made even clearer by the appointment of Dwivedi as DGP Bihar.

At least nine persons have been injured, including some policemen with bullet wounds. Details of final figures are still awaited.