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Bihar Police block social media sites in Darbhanga: MP demands ‘UP model’ to ensure the safety of Hindus in Muslim-majority areas

In a statement issued to the press, the Deputy Director of Public Relations has said that due to law and order, social networking services will be closed from the evening of July 27 to the evening of July 30, 2023.

On Sunday, 23rd July 2023, the Darbhanga district in Bihar was gripped by communal clashes after some members of the Muslim community created a ruckus and stopped the last rites of a Hindu villager named Shrikant Paswan. The incident occurred in the Hariharpur tola- Malpatti village under Kamtaul police station limits on Sunday evening.

Madhubani MP Ashok Yadav spoke to OpIndia about the ruckus created by Muslims at the funeral of veteran Mahadalit person Shrikant Paswan. The incident took place in Dharampur-Malpatti village under the Kamtaul police station area of Darbhanga district. But this area falls under Ashok Yadav’s parliamentary constituency. Darbhanga district has witnessed several communal incidents in recent days.

MP Ashok Yadav told OpIndia, “Be it Madhubani or Darbhanga, Kishanganj or Araria, in any area of Mithila region where the population of Muslims is high, Hindus have become a minority, they are not even allowed to worship. The Katha of Shri Satyanarayan Bhagwan is not allowed. Muslims oppose the drums played in a Hindu wedding ceremony. They do not allow the procession to pass by a mosque.”

On July 21, there was a dispute over the installation of the Moharram flag in the Birol police station area. Then on July 23, tension arose at Shivdhara Chowk in the Mabbi police station area late at night. On July 23, there was an incident of stone-pelting and arson during the cremation of Shrikant Paswan. On July 24, there was an incident in Bariaul village under the Kamtaul police station area where a loud DJ was playing in a Muharram procession. On July 25, the incident took place in Ijarhata village under the Manigachhi police station area. On July 26, there was a dispute over the Moharram flag in Banoli village under the Simri police station area. On July 27, there was a controversy over the installation of the Muharram flag but it was thwarted because of the active response by the Bhawanipur Bhapura administration and local public representatives of the Singhwara police station area.

Darbhanga police are presenting these controversies as if these are everyday incidents. In this effort, social media sites have now been closed in Darbhanga district. In a statement issued to the press, the Deputy Director of Public Relations has said that due to law and order, social networking services will be closed from the evening of July 27 to the evening of July 30, 2023.

It said that some anti-social elements are trying to disturb communal harmony in Darbhanga through social media. In view of this, it has been decided to suspend these services on the instructions of the State Home Department. This restriction is applicable to all social networking services including uploading videos on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and YouTube.

Despite the Darbhanga administration justifying the ban as a measure to maintain communal harmony and curb anti-social elements, recent events in the district shed light on the underlying issues that led to this decision and the people responsible for this situation. Regrettably, these incidents have not received significant coverage in the national media. Of even greater concern are allegations against the local police and administration for acting unilaterally, putting pressure on the victims, and subjecting even those who intervened to torture.

Darbhanga administration issued a statement in the media regarding the ban on social media sites.

MP Ashok Yadav mentions Hindu houses set on fire and clashes over ownership of cremation ground

Referring to the incident during Shrikant Paswan’s cremation, MP Ashok Yadav told OpIndia, “Hindus have been performing cremation on the cremation ground which was opposed by people of the Muslim community, who claim ownership on the land. Due to the grounds of the crematorium remaining at a lower level, water logging issues surfaced there. Soil filling and leveling works were done at that place with MNREGA.”

He said, “The body was treated indecently and inhumanly. Such an incident has never happened before. The corpse was thrown away. It was attacked with sticks and other inhuman treatment. Hindu houses were burnt. The local village chief’s motorcycle was set on fire. The violence was carried out by cutting electricity from the transformer.”

According to the MP, the entire incident happened in front of the police administration. Police personnel were also injured. The police should have taken action against the culprits. But the administration dragged village chief Ajay Jha, who went to the spot to intervene, in this case. He was sent to jail. He was humiliated by bringing him to the police station. Derogatory words were used for him.

He further told OpIndia, “The Bihar government should immediately mark the land boundaries of the crematorium and hand it over to the Hindus. The Bihar government should take action against the culprits so that such an incident does not happen in the future. If the administration does not take action against the culprits, then such an incident can happen again.”

What happened with Shrikant Paswan’s dead body?

The death of 62-year-old Shrikant Paswan from Dharampur village, who was battling cancer, led to funeral proceedings at the adjacent crematorium just outside of the Malpatti village on 23rd July 2023. However, the Muslims residing in Malpatti village protested the cremation, asserting their claim over the cremation land. The situation escalated, with reported incidents of stone-pelting and attacks on houses. Some media reports even mentioned disturbing actions, including throwing away a burning cremation pyre and urinating on the dead body. Nevertheless, the Bihar Police refuted these claims, stating that it was a dispute between two communities over the funeral arrangements.

The Station House Officer of Kamtaul told OpIndia that the claims of inhumanly treating the dead body are false. When the police reached the spot after getting information about the dispute, the dead body was kept on the pyre by digging a pit. The last rites were performed in the presence of the administration. The victim’s family has also not mentioned any indecency with the dead body in their complaint, he added. He also added that three policemen were injured during the disturbances.

According to the locals, after getting information about the dispute, village chief Ajay Jha reached the spot along with the police administration. But later, under pressure from Muslims, he was also implicated in this case and arrested. An organization called All India Muslim Bedari Karwaan had written a letter to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on July 24 in this regard. Accusing Ajay Kumar Jha of conspiring, the letter said that Ajay Jha’s men and the police entered more than two dozen houses of Muslims in Malpatti and beat them up.

‘Bihar also needs UP’s bulldozer model’

Similarly, in other recent incidents, the police are being accused of working under pressure from Muslims and also implicating Hindus in these cases. MP Ashok Yadav calls it the result of appeasement of the Bihar government. He said, “Lalu Prasad Yadav had nothing to do with development right from the beginning. He has been doing politics of appeasement and the M-Y (Muslim-Yadav) equation. Nitish Kumar has also had this policy. When the BJP was in alliance with Nitish Kumar, he could not openly appease. But now after joining hands with Lalu Yadav, he is also openly engaged in appeasement and creating a vote bank. This is why Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists in Bihar also feel safe. The BJP government in Uttar Pradesh has shown how this problem can be treated. If such an incident had happened in UP, the bulldozer would have gone to demolish by now. Now there is a need for a similar government in Bihar.”

Interestingly, the appeasement at the government and administrative level that Ashok Yadav is talking about is also visible on the Twitter handle of Darbhanga Police. The police have not revealed the names of those who created a ruckus over the funeral of Mahadalit Shrikant Paswan. The protesters have been identified on social media as “particular communities”. But the same police have released the name, address, and picture of Manish Kumar Singh, accused of raping a Dalit girl in the Bahera police station area, on social media.

In one case, the name and address of the accused are all mentioned, but in the other case, only “other communities” is mentioned.

There are speculations about whether the decision to ban social networking sites is an attempt to conceal the appeasement in recent events. However, the Darbhanga police and administration, despite being asked, have not provided a satisfactory response to address these concerns.

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