Patna: Two days after communal clashes broke out in Bihar’s Jehanabad following an altercation regarding the immersion of Durga idols on Wednesday, tension continued to grip the residents of two neighbouring towns of Jehanabad and Gaya for on Friday, October 11. Heavy security forces have been deployed, while administration has arrested suspected trouble makers and appealed for peace.
In Jehanabad, situated 50 km away from Patna, the district administration has suspended internet services and imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPc), making assembly of people and carrying of weapons unlawful.
“There is no report of any clash, violence or any such thing on Friday. However, due to the simmering tension, the administration is on alert and preventive measures taken on Thursday are being continued on Friday. But situation is under control and peaceful now,” Jehanabad DM Navin Kumar said.
According to a senior district police officer, additional security forces have also been called from nearby districts to control the situation.
Communal tension on local level started on Wednesday night with a minor clash during immersion of Durga idols. But on early Thursday morning, it took a violent turn after people from two communities clashed, attacked each other and later took to streets.
A district official told NewsClick that a mere altercation between people from two communities near a mosque during Durga idol immersions had turned violent. “Both group attacked each other,pelted bricks and indulged in arson,” he said.
Also read: Communal Tension Grips Bihar Town After Violent Clashes
But Muna Singh, a resident of Arwal Mode, where violence and clashes began, alleged that a group of Muslim youth are behind the clashes as they attacked a Durga idol going for immersion, threw bricks and damaged it.
However, according to Dr Razi Ahmad, an activist working with the minority community in Jehanabad, the public and police are fully aware of what happened on Thursday in broad daylight. He told NewsClick, “For nearly 5 to 6 hours, Jehanabad town was under the control of trouble makers, who were behaving as there is no rule for them. This has created fear among Muslims.”
He has accused the police of taking action against Muslims and deploying security forces in and around Muslim dominated localities. “Over a dozen Muslims were detained in the last 24 hours,” he alleged.
Talking about the incident, resident Shamim Ansari told NewsClick, “A group of youths first entered a mosque, ransacked it and threw a copy of Koran. It was countered by local Muslims who also pelted bricks to disperse them. But angry over this, the group was joined by others and it took the shape of a mob that looted over two dozen shops belonging to Muslims and set ablaze nearly one dozen shops and motorcycles. These trouble makers shouted abusive slogans against Muslims and challenged to face them. Hours later, police reached the spot and opened several rounds of fire in the air to disperse the mob.”
Like Thursday, most of the markets and educational institutions remained closed and roads were deserted in Jehanabad on Friday, despite confidence building exercise by district administration.
Ahmad and Ansari admitted that due to the administration’s response, the situation did not take a turn for worse. Flag marches appealing not to pay heed to rumours accompanied by the deployment of security forces are positive developments.
In Gaya town, nearly 50 km from Jehanabad and 100 km from Patna, communal tension in a specific locality of Manpur, situated on the outskirts of the town, continued for the third day. Here, a violent clash between two groups belonging to different communities over some personal dispute on Thursday night near Panchaytiyakhara had taken a communal colour, thanks to rumours spread on social media.
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According to reports coming from Gaya, four people, all close relatives of a local ward member, were injured when others opened fire at them. All of them sustained injuries in their legs and have been admitted to a local government hospital.
After this incident, tension which had been simmering in the town following heated exchange of words during Durga idol immersion two days ago, turned into panic spreading fast among the residents on Friday.
Mazhar Khan, a resident of Jama Masjid near Dukharnibpathak in town, told NewsClick that heavy security forces have been deployed in Panchayatiyakhara and Manpur, and the administration is on alert and doing everything to control the situation. He said, “The situation is peaceful now, but there is an underlying tension. It may increase in the night due to rumours.”