Outsiders were involved in planning and executing communal riots in Bihar, the state police and intelligence departments have found in their investigations. Reports that have emerged from the initial investigations by senior police and intelligence officers, which have been accessed by News18, are undeniable proof of how communal riots, which unfolded in the state between March 17 and March 30, were manufactured. These are some of the details on the riots that senior intelligence operatives shared with News18. Some details have been withheld for security reasons. 1) At least three men were identified among mobs that stoked violence in three different districts — Aurangabad, Samastipur and Munger. 2) Intelligence officers also identified three vehicles — two black Hero Splendour bikes and one white Mahindra Scorpio — that were used by the rioters in these districts, strongly suggesting how communal violence wasn’t spontaneous, local phenomenon. 3) Huge stocks of country made weapons and swords were bought in large numbers a few days before the riots. The shop where one of the bulk orders was placed has been identified and its owner is being questioned. The state police has made several arrests following the riots. One of them is of one Dhiraj Kumar. Kumar, known as a Bajrang Dal convener of Silao, Nalanda, was named in two cases of riots — Nalanda and Nawada. A police officer told News18 that the fact that he had travelled from Nalanda and Nawada, and stoked riots in both the places, had been established. “Dhiraj was arrested in Nawada, his name is also there in the Nalanda FIR,” said sub-inspector of Nalanda, Rajesh Kumar. The FIR confirms that he travelled from Nalanda to Nawada to participate in the clashes. Though Bajrang Dal, when contacted by News18, denied its involvement in the riots. Anil Singh, Bajrang Dal head for Bihar and Jharkhand, also did not confirm or deny the membership of Dhiraj Kumar in his outfit. “I do not know whether Dhiraj Singh is from Bajrang Dal or not. These days every youth says he is from the Dal.” Not just intelligence sources and police officers, senior administrative officials also talked about the manufactured nature of these riots.
Bikes carrying representations of Hindu dieties during the Ramnavami procession in Nalanda. The procession was organised by militant Hindu outfits.
The songs filled with communal slander, played during these processions, are being promoted on social media platforms including popular video and audio platform – Youtube.
News18 went to three riot affected districts in Bihar — Aurangabad, Nalanda and Nawada to find out the circumstances in which riots had broken out.
We found the same story — outsiders coming in with weapons on or around Ram Navami, provoking members of the minority community, indulging in large scale violence including arson — with minor changes played out in all the three places.
Aurangabad, March 25 & 26
It was 5 pm on March 25 when Tej Kumar, a local tea seller, noticed a lot of people he didn’t recognise, coming into the town, wearing saffron bandanas and carrying swords.
“They said they were doing this to glorify the Hindu religion. I was surprised to see the number of swords. One of them said they had come to show their strength just as Muslims do during Muharram.” Aurangabad is represented in Lok Sabha by BJP leader Sushil Kumar Singh.
Nawadi, Aurangabad, is a small town inhabited by both Hindus and Muslims and, as Kumar and many other locals claim, is a perfect example of peaceful co-existence of both the communities. Green flags bearing crescent and the star and saffron flags can be seen fluttering together in the dense bylanes of Nawadi.
“That evening, the Muslims were instigated by the men in the bike rally,” Kumar said.
A senior administrative official posted in the district said, “In Aurangabad, there was a grander conspiracy for stoking communal riots. There were cases of targeted arson. We are moving to checking hotels, railway station CCTVs and other places that can house people. What we know for sure is that the riot did not break out between locals, initially at least.”
“We had informed the local administration of the possibilities of communal clashes twice — first, a month before the procession and once again just before the riots. But the police forces in Aurangabad were deputed in fewer numbers than they should have been,” an Intelligence Bureau official told News18.
The superintendent of police in Aurangabad agreed that such warnings were issued in advance but said that, “the warnings were not area specific.”
As the rally entered Nawadi, the chants of “Jai Shri Ram” changed to “Pakistan Murdabad” and “Hindistan mein rehna hai toh Vande Mataram kehna hoga”, multiple eyewitnesses said.
While police controlled the riots on March 25, a much bigger 10,000 strong mob descended on Aurangabad the next day. People gathered on the occasion of the religious celebration were armed to their teeth. Every man in the rally had a sword, a lathi and was wearing saffron.