By Dev Raj
A People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) report released on Wednesday on the Biharsharif communal violence blames the involvement of organisations like the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Bajrang Dal, the negligence of police and the absence of paramilitary forces for the flare-up.
The report criticises the government of chief minister Nitish Kumar for its failure to control the violence quickly and seeks compensation for the people affected and a deep investigation into the use of religious processions to spread hatred and violence. It also demands an investigation into the role of the VHP and the Bajrang Dal.
The violence in Biharsharif broke out during a Ram Navami procession on March 30. It continued for several days. One person was killed and many were injured, while property belonging to the people of both communities was damaged.
The police have arrested around 148 people in connection with the violence, while several others have surrendered in court. The district convenor of the Bajrang Dal, identified as Kundan Kumar, and several of his associates are among those arrested.
A four-member PUCL fact-finding team visited Biharsharif on April 8. State council member Chakravarti Ashok Priyadarshi, state unit vice-president Father Jose and members Ghalib Khan and Vrati Kumar were part of the team. The team met people affected by the violence and district administration officials. It also collected statements and testimonies during the interactions.
“The fact-finding team concludes that the police showed incredible negligence in managing and preventing the violence. It was either a failure of intelligence or of the police to act on it. The team feels that the latter is more likely as people were aware that the preparation for violence had been going on for months,” the report says.