The son of Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Ashwani Choubey has been booked in connection with the communal clashes during a procession in Bihar’s Bhagalpur district, the police told IANS on Monday.
“Two cases were lodged in connection with the clashes two days ago,” said police officer Janeefuddin. “The first was against conducting the procession without permission, inciting communal sentiment and roaming on roads while displaying arms in which Choubey’s son Arijit Shashwat and 20 others were named as accused.”
The procession in Nathnagar was organised by the Bharatiya Navvarsh Jagran Samiti to mark the eve of the Hindu New Year. Shashwat had led the procession that passed through at least half-a-dozen Muslim-dominated areas. Sanjeev Kumar, the officer in charge of Lalmatia outpost, told The Indian Express that some of the slogans shouted were “provocative”, and could have triggered the violence.
There were reports of stone pelting in which three policemen were injured. “Despite our best efforts, the stone-pelting continued for about 45 minutes,” a police officer told The Indian Express. Additional security forces have been deployed in Nathnagar and neighbouring Champanagar areas while internet services have been suspended since Saturday night, according told IANS.
Choubey and other local Bharatiya Janata Party leaders claimed that the district administration had given permission for the rally. Choubey also denied that provocative slogans were shouted and objectionable songs were played during the procession. “Is there anything wrong in leading a procession to celebrate the Hindu New Year?” asked Choubey. “Kya Ma Bharat ki baat karna galat hai? Kya Vande Mataram kehna gunah hai?” Is it wrong to talk about Bharat Ma, he asked. “Is it a crime to say Vande Mataram?”
Choubey was elected MP from Buxar Lok Sabha seat in 2014. His son Shashwat had contested the 2015 Bihar Assembly elections from Bhagalpur on a BJP ticket. But he had lost to Congress’ Ajeet Sharma.