Tension gripped Bhagalpur on Sunday as beef was found thrown near a temple located in the Jagdamba Chowk of Hussainabad bucket factory locality. As a precautionary measure and to dampen the aftershocks of the incident in other parts of the country mobile internet services have been halted by the district administration.
That apart, a letter written by some Aymad of Puraini, claiming the blame, has also been found. The letter also states that the sponsors have also assured safety and security of the executor. The sponsor has been named as Rehan in the letter.
In its bid to maintain law and order in the district, the police administration has also deployed Rapid Action Force besides the local cops. Although the situation is presently under control, the tension still simmers. Locals spotted the beef that was carefully packed in a transparent container in the wee hours of Sunday and the news did spread like wildfire.
Agitated by the happening, the locals resorted to large-scale arson and interrupted the main road traffic for over a couple of hours. Blaming a nearby abattoir for the incident, the enraged masses demanded its immediate and permanent closure as well.
The local cops assured the agitators that culprits behind the episode will definitely be brought to justice as their identification will be based on footages of the nearby CCTVs.
Communal disharmony has become a perennial feature in Bhagalpur, a place known worldwide for its typical Tasar silk. Similar tension prevailed in the city in January last.
It may be mentioned here that Bhagalpur has a history of communal violence, and in 1989, the Hindu-Muslims tensions had escalated during the Muharram and Bisheri Puja festivities in August.
The Bhagalpur riots refer to the Hindu-Muslim violence in the Bhagalpur district, Bihar that started on October 24, 1989 and continued for 2 months. The violence affected the Bhagalpur city and 250 villages around it.
Over 1,000 people (of which, around 900 were Muslims), were killed, and another 50,000 were displaced. By the time the barbarity was tamed, it became the worst Hindu-Muslim violence in independent India at the time, surpassing the 1969 Gujarat riots.
In 1989, as part of the Ram Janmabhoomi campaign, which aims to construct a Hindu temple at Ayodhya in place of the Babri mosque, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) had organized a “Ramshila” procession in Bhagalpur. The procession aimed to collect bricks (shilas) for the proposed Ram temple at Ayodhya. One such procession passing through Fatehpur village provoked arson and brickbatting on October 22.
Those apart, the political and criminal rivalries in the area also played a role in inciting the riots.
On October 24, 1989, the Ramshila processions from the various parts of the district were to proceed to the Gaushala area, from where they would move on to Ayodhya. The procession coming from Parbatti area passed peacefully through Tatarpur, a Muslim-dominated area, after its leader Mahadev Prasad Singh told the Hindus not to raise any provocative slogans.
Another procession from Nathnagar arrived at Tatarpur. This massive procession was escorted for safety by the police, in the presence of the then Bhagalpur SP KS Dwivedi. Some members of the procession shouted slogans such as “Hindi, Hindu, Hindustan, Mullah Bhago Pakistan (India is for Hindus, Muslims run away to Pakistan) and Babur ki auladon, bhago Pakistan ya Kabristan (Children of Babur, run away to Pakistan or to the graveyard).”
The then Bhagalpur DM Arun Jha stopped the procession at the Parbatti-Tatarpur junction. The DM then requested the Muslims to allow the procession to pass through Tatarpur, but the Muslims refused and demanded that the procession must take an alternative route to Gaushala.
Meanwhile, crude bombs were thrown at the procession from the premises of the neighbouring Muslim high school. Although no one was killed in the bombing, as many as 11 policemen suffered minor injuries triggering the riots.