A road accident turned communal and four people were killed as clashes continue for two days in Lalganj, just outside Patna, even as Nitish Kumar gets ready to be sworn in as chief minister on Friday. The accident took place on Wednesday when Mohammed Rizwan lost control of a vehicle he was driving, and killed 60-year-old businessman Rajendra Chaudhary, and his granddaughter Sapna. Police arrested Rizwan the same day. Things took a turn on Thursday after locals heard that Rizwan had been let off and around 1,000 people gathered around his house and turned violent. Police were deployed after the mob started setting fire to vehicles and homes, and a 17-year-old was killed in police firing, after which a police sub-inspector, Ajit Kumar, was lynched by the mob. The day before Nitish Kumar’s grand swearing-in, the Vaishali district magistrate told Firstpost, “It was simply a road accident. Calling it communal tension is exaggeration.”
The government announced compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the sub-inspector’s family and Rs 4 lakh to families of other victims. Locals told The Indian Express that some people were trying to communalise the events because of political rivalries and the recent elections. Nitish Kumar will be sworn in at a huge event not far from Lalganj, with many national leaders in attendance. The list includes Congress leaders Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, Nationalist Congress Party’s Sharad Pawar, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, among others. Several Janata Dal (United) and Rashtriya Janata Dal leaders will also be at the ceremony. Bharatiya Janata Party leaders and Union ministers Venkaiah Naidu and Rajiv Pratap Rudy will attend on behalf of the Prime Minister.