PATNA: The scene of dozens of carcasses of slaughtered cattle floating in a canal in Bihar’s Madhepura district sparked communal tension in Bihar, forcing the state government to suspend Internet services in eight eastern districts on Tuesday.
Violent protests started soon after carcasses of dozens of cattle, some sources putting the figure at over 200, were seen floating in the water of a canal at Tinkonwan village under Murliganj police station of Madhepura district on Monday.
Police lathi-charged on hundreds of people who blocked a road in Murliganj demanding action against local Muslims who they blamed for the slaughter of the cattle. Mobilised by Sri Ram Sena, the protesters pelted stones at police, causing injuries to five policemen. The mob also damaged the official SUV of Madhepura SDM Sanjay Kumar Nirala, pushing it into a nearby river close to the canal, when he reached the spot along with other officials.
Madhepura SP Vikas Kumar said 24 people were arrested for violent protests.
Apprehending spread of communal hatred through social media, Internet services were suspended in Madhepura and seven neighbouring districts with a sizeable Muslim population- Supaul, Saharsa, Purnea, Araria, Kishanganj and Katihar. The suspension of internet services would remain in force at least till Wednesday evening, said an official of the state home department.
The protesters claimed that the dead cattle were ferried by some local smugglers and were being taken to Kishanganj. With the mob getting violent and seeking instant action against the supposed culprits even before a probe, the administration deployed jawans of Rapid Action Force and the district police in Murliganj to maintain peace.
Vikas Kumar, SP of Madhepura, said to the New Indian Express, “The carcasses of 48 animals were seen in the canal. A probe is trying to ascertain how they came there. Samples have been taken from them and handed to a team of veterinary doctors to ascertain if they were cattle carcasses.” A forensic examination of the samples would confirm how the animals died, he added.
Some sources, however, said the carcasses were of cattle and that they had been slaughtered, contrary to some assumptions that they might have died due to the recent flash floods. “Some of the dead cows were skinned, too,” said an official who saw the carcasses.
“The violent protests are the work of some fringe elements trying to destroy communal harmony. Police must identify them and take action. The animals seem to have died in the floods,” said Madhepura MP Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav.
Two other places in Bihar – Araria and Sahar – were also in the grip of communal tension on Sunday. A clash broke out on the Araria-Raniganj road when the Hindus accused the local Muslims of killing a cow for Eid ul-Adha. Several pieces of meat were confiscated from a Muslim man’s house and sent for analysis. Police arrested 13 people from both communities.
In Sahar in Bhojpur district, two Muslim youths were arrested on Sunday after a calf carcass was found near their houses, prompting a cow vigilante group to protest