Amidst the Chhath Puja festivities on Friday, the Hindu community in the Katihar district of Seemanchal division in Bihar was subjected to consistent harassment by Islamists.
As per locals, a Muslim mob disrupted the Chhath Puja celebrations, and vandalised the ghats, leading to a communally-surcharged atmosphere in the area. Although the Hindus were able to observe Chhath Puja in the evening, there were terrified by the events of the morning when a group of Islamists had stopped them from conducting the rituals. The Muslim mob had initially objected to the use of firecrackers but later resorted to vandalising the Chhath ghat, destroying the paraphernalia, urinating and defecating on the site.
In a video that has now gone viral on social media, the locals have demanded the intervention of Kahtiyar MLA Tarkishore Prasad and police protection to all Hindu devotees in the area. All the men and women, standing in the background, were seen making a desperate appeal to the district administration. A young boy in the said video had called upon other Hindus to make the video viral so that they can get justice.
Locals recount how a fanatic Muslim mob intimidated them
When OpIndia spoke to the people in the area, one local person informed that the son-in-law of a local Islamic cleric was involved in the disruption of Hindu festivities. As such, the district administration has asked the aggrieved Hindus to settle the matter outside the police station. An eyewitness and victim, Devnarayan Uraon, narrated, “As soon as we got there, a group of Muslims started harassing us. They warned us to not celebrate Chhatt else they would throw us off the ghats. When we returned home, they destroyed the decoration and vandalised the site….” He added that following the incident, he and other locals went to Ratora police station to register a case.
Devnarayan informed that the police accompanied the locals to the ghat at 10 pm in the night and found that the ghat was vandalised. While the police provided a sum of ₹500 as monetary help, the Hindus had to spend hours in re-decorating the ghats. Several videos of Hindu activists have now come to light wherein they complained about ill-treatment at the hands of the dominant Muslim community in the area.
Quoting the Muslims in the area, a Hindu woman stated, “They say that they will create more Muslim dominated areas, drive Hindus away and grab their lands.” In a shocking claim, a local Vikas Uranv said that he had witnessed the desecration of the Chhath ghat himself and claimed that miscreants belonging to the Muslim community made videos of Hindu women changing their clothes. He had also lamented about how the same miscreants harass and eve-tease their women on a daily basis.
Police claims situation under control, VHP spokesperson flags concerns about growing fundamentalism
While speaking about the incident, SDPO (Katihar) Amarkant Jha conceded that the desecration was the handiwork of some anti-social elements during the Chhath Puja at Rautara. He stated that the police took immediate action on learning about the incident and ensured that the Chhath Puja rituals went unhindered. Jha further stated that no case was registered as it wasn’t such a big incident and that law and order situation was under control. He added that no arrest has been as the matter has been resolved. He further emphasised that the Station House Officer (SHO) took cognisance of the incident at the earliest and that he was monitoring the situation on the ground.
VHP national spokesperson Vinod Bansal told OpIndia that the Bihar government should pay attention to the concerns of Hindus in sensitive areas such as Seemanchal. While condemning the incident, he urged upon local MLA Tarkishore Prasad to meet the people and listen to their demands. He expressed concerns about the rising Islamic fundamentalism in the area and the threats it posed to the Hindu community.