A procession comprising of BJP, RSS and Bajrang Dal workers led by Arijit Shashwat, son of Union Minister of State Ashwini Kumar Choubey, in Bihar’s Bhagalpur town triggered communal clashes on Saturday, 17 March, The Indian Express reported.
An FIR accusing Shashwat of inciting violence has been lodged on Monday, 19 March.
The procession was organised on the eve of Hindu New Year by Bharatiya Navvarsh Jagran Samiti. Arjit Shashwat led the procession through a 15-km route that passed several Muslim-dominated areas.
The clashes began with stone pelting in Medini Chowk — one of the Muslim dominated areas at around 3:45 pm, the report stated. Police said that the clashes could have been triggered by some of the slogans raised in the procession which were “provocative” in nature.
Denying allegations of inflammatory slogans, Arjit Shashwat claimed that it was a “motorcycle procession”, adding that video footage can prove that he was 3-4 kilometres away from the spot where the stone pelting took place.
The inter-community stone pelting which went on for 45 minutes, left three policemen injured.
An FIR was filed against unknown persons, and although no prohibitory orders were implemented, most of the area was shut on Sunday. Paramilitary forces were also deployed in sensitive pockets of the area.
The Indian Express quoted MoS Ashwini Choubey as saying, “I am proud that Arijit is my son. All BJP workers are like my son. Is there anything wrong in leading a procession to celebrate the Hindu New Year? Kya Ma Bharat ki baat karna galat hai? Kya Vande Mataram kehna gunah hai? (Is it wrong to talk about Bharat Ma? Is it a crime to say Vande Mataram?)”
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