Bihar has concluded its first phase voting, and the political fervour is in full pace. The recent Munger incident and the following controversies, the blame game shows how all parties, national and local, are leaving no stone unturned in the first political battle amidst the novel coronavirus.
What happened at Munger?
In the recent Munger incident, a clash broke out in Loharpatti area in Munger between the devotees and the police over a delay in the immersion of idols in the Ganga, a day before the State went into its first phase of the Assembly election.
The clash led to lathi-charge, stone-pelting and firing at Deen Dayal Upadhyaya (DDU) Chowk. The festivities of Durga Visarjan soon turned into violent bloodshed as an 18-year old was killed in the firing, and twenty-seven others were reportedly injured.
Prakash Bhagat, a member of Durga Idol Immersion committee, said more than 53 Durga idols were installed in Munger out of which 15 were taken by revellers for immersion in the Ganga at Deendayal Chowk. Traditionally, the idols are immersed after three days of Vijayadashami, but at the wake of the first phase of the Assembly election, the administration insisted on the immersion by 5 am.
Durga puja organizers allegedly took out a procession at midnight with loud DJs for the immersion. The festive mood turned sombre around 11.50 pm when police officials allegedly beat four persons who were carrying idols on their shoulders which sparked off a protest with the processionists and puja organizers demanding action against the policemen.
‘The mob started pelting stones on the police, which prompted a lathi charge. Eyewitnesses said the police also used tear gas shells and fired 15 rounds in the air to disperse the violent mob,’ reported the Hindustan Times.
The police said that the clash broke out due to stone pelting by anti-social elements in the processions.
Angry over inaction against police officials who had attacked Durga Puja Immersion procession, locals attack SP Lipi Singh’s office, burn police vehicles, today. Hundreds of angry locals have now allegedly plundered SP Lipi Singh’s office and set fire to police vehicles as their fury over the police excesses escalated.
Aggrieved by the insensitive approach shown by the Munger authorities to act against the police officials who had indiscriminately attacked the devotes during Durga immersion have caused outrage in the region. Hundreds of the locals reportedly reached the East Sarai police station and have vandalised, pelted stones at the police station and set fire to two police vehicle parked outside. The board next to the police office was also uprooted. The group of angry youths also vandalized the secret branch office of the SDO.
The angry mob took to the streets to protest against the police administration and demanded that the police officer who shot the young devotee should be charged with murder. They also demanded immediate suspension of Lipi Singh, the superintendent of police (SP) of Munger, Bihar.
The situation remains tensed. To control the exacerbations, additional police forces have been deployed in the area.
Election Commission due to the tense situation had ordered the immediate removal Munger SP and District Magistrate. As per reports a new DM and SP will be posted in Munger today itself. Election Commission also ordered a probe into the firing case.
Blame game over Munger Firing Incident amid election:
A video showed a cavalcade breaking up, a section running away and police storming with their lathis towards devotees seated around the idol. Already in charged up politics, the incident turned out to be of interest to all the political leaders, and soon the blame game kicked off, followed by comparisons, clarification, and condemnation.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala tweeted sharing the video of the violence, “Will the BJP-JDU government thrash Durga worshippers like animals? Will the BJP-JDU government kill people for immersing Durga idols? Yes, these images are from Munger in Bihar. First, they lathi-charged the disciples and then police fired on them.”
Already pointed out for the inefficiency to maintain law and order in the State, chief minister Nitish Kumar was again called out for the inability to handle law and order by the opposition Grand Alliance (GA) comprising RJD-Congress and Left.
Calling it brutal and reflective of the State Government’s total failure to handle law and order, the GA leaders asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to dismiss the Nitish Kumar government. The demand by the grand opposition alliance is perfectly timed with the ongoing BJP campaign rallies by PM Modi at Darbhanga, Muzaffarpur and Patna for the second phase for the assembly election.
“We want the Prime Minister to immediately dismiss this government as there is a complete failure of law and order in the state,” said the GA leaders.
Furthermore, RJD leader Tejaswi Yadav equated Nitish Kumar with General Dyer.
“Who gave you the order to become General Dyer? What was the Bihar chief minister and Deputy Chief Minister doing when this incident happened? Did not have information about this incident. They have a role to play in this case”, Tejaswi said.
Lok Janshakti Party(LJP) MP Chirag Paswan has also attacked Nitish demanding a murder case to be registered against Munger SP Lipi Singh for mishandling the situation on the ground. Lipi Singh is the daughter of Janata Dal-United(JDU) MP and close aide of Nitish Kumar, Ramchandra Prasad Singh.
How it BJP reacted to blame?
As Bihar is in full political swing, the Munger firing ahead of the election has turned out to be a major controversy, shouldering the chief minister Nitish Kumar into damage control mode.
Testing the waters, caught on the back foot, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi urged the Election Commission to take cognizance of the matter and act against the accused.
“What happened during the Durga idol immersion procession in Munger is very unfortunate. Election Commission should take cognizance of this case and crackdown on the accused”, said Sushil Kumar Modi, Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar.
The incident led to a low voter turnout in Munger town, especially in the Lohapatti area.
Such is the fervour of politics that the blame game is on the paradigm of law and order, record unemployment, inflation, the migrant crisis, and crumbling health infrastructure by the political parties running on the high-end Bihar polls.
With allegations and jibes hovering high amid frenzied campaigning, the parties are assuring a utopic Bihar with promises unfulfilled for so long in the State and at the Centre. The solemn promises will soon fade away into nothingness, and the State will be under the covers of the same long-standing issues which are addressed at every election and soon gets lost into oblivion.