Seventy-seven people have been arrested in connection with the violence that erupted at Bihar Sharif in the State’s Nalanda district during Ram Navami festivities, the police said on Sunday. Prohibitory orders have been imposed under Section 144 of the CrPC in the area. Internet services have been suspended in the district and the ban is expected to be in place for the next 48 hours. One person died in fresh violence on Saturday evening, the police said.
“So far, 77 people have been arrested and 12 FIRs lodged. A flag march was conducted to maintain peace in the area. Adequate paramilitary personnel have been deployed to control the situation,” said Nalanda Superintendent of Police Ashok Mishra.
The police said Gulshan Kumar succumbed to bullet injuries, while another seriously injured person is undergoing treatment in the State capital, Patna. People have been advised to stay indoors.
Library set on fire
An armed mob of around 1,000 people vandalised a madrasa in Bihar Sharif’s Murarpur locality and set fire to its library, said Mohammad Siyabuddin, the imam of the mosque and caretaker of the madrasa. The 110-year-old library with a collection of over 4,500 books was reduced to ashes in the attack, he said.
The mosque’s minar (tower) was damaged and the district administration is carrying out repairs. “We had just finished Friday prayers when violence erupted at Gagan Diwan locality near Hotel City Palace. A mob then entered the madrasa and started hurling stones. A member of the mosque’s peace committee was threatened to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’. They threw petrol bombs into the mosque and the library, and set vehicles parked on the premises on fire,” Mr. Siyabuddin said.
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The police did not reach the spot till 11 p.m. even though the attack took place in the afternoon, he added. “Two children were trapped in a room filled with smoke. If I had not reached there on time, we would have lost them,” Mr. Siyabuddin said.
“It is unfortunate that rare books were burnt in the attack, which was carried out with the intention of hampering the education of children, “ said Sarfaraz Mallik, an advocate at Bihar Sharif court who resides close to the madrasa.
Mohan Bahadur, a guard at the madrasa, said the mob attacked him, but he managed to flee. “They were armed with swords and rods, and were chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’. I ran away from the spot, but they took ₹3,500 from my room.”
An eyewitness said violence broke out during a Ram Navami procession from Shram Kalyan Maidan to Mani Ram Akhada on Friday. The mob also allegedly placed saffron flags on several shops in the area and torched them.
Shatrughan Prasad, a resident of Bihar Sharif, said the area has not witnessed such violence since 1981, when 45 people died in communal clashes. “Then, Jagannath Mishra was the Chief Minister and the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had visited the riot-affected areas,” he said.
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