In a fact-finding report released on April 20th, the Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR) noted that a conspiracy to create violence during Ram Navami processions in Bihar was pre-planned by right-wing groups associated with Sangh Parivar. The fact-finding team, which included Lawyer Mohammad Mobashir Aneeq and Senior Journalist Prasant Tandon, in its report said that the district administration had given approval for 5,000 people and pre-planned the route of the Ram Navami procession on March 31st, which witnessed a gathering more than 60,000 people and also saw a diversion from its pre-planned route. The team noted, despite such red flags, the police and local administration remained a mute spectator as violence unfolded against the houses, properties and institutions belonging to the Muslim community.
“The massive procession was waving swords and playing provocative and hatred filled songs over a DJ. The police were supposed to be present at areas of the route and all these provocative acts were clearly visible before the violence began, but no action was taken by the police to prevent the violence,” said Aneeq.
Bhasha Singh, senior journalist speaking at the launch of the report at the Press Club of India in Delhi, noted that such a large-scale violence witnessed in Bihar Sharif and Sasaram was not possible without a pre-planned conspiracy. Bhasha Singh further said the worrying factor in these violent incidents is the involvement of a large number children. “BJP-RSS is trying to poison the minds of these young children with hatred,” she said.
“Local BJP and RSS leaders were spreading hatred even before Ram Navami and in such a case, how did the administration fail to notice these acts?” said veteran journalist Urmilesh. Even, after the violence, the main masterminds behind the violence are not arrested. He also questioned state government and its intelligence failure about the planned violence. “By burning down properties and institutions of Muslims, the right-wing groups want to also ensure economic oppression of Muslim population,” said social activist John Dayal.
The residents of Bihar Sharif informed the fact-finding team that CCTV cameras at the Gagan Diwan petrol pump were removed by unknown persons just a few days prior to the procession. Incidentally, CCTVs were present at the diverted routes where the violence took place. While, shops and institutions owned by Muslims were targeted in Bihar Sharif, in Sasaram, individual houses, mostly belonging to poor people were targeted.
The report recommended that the state government initiate immediate steps provide compensation to victims and also set up a judicial enquiry to investigate the pre-planned conspiracy behind the violence.