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Modi's Minister is proud of son who led rally which ended in communal clashes

Monday March 19, 2018 10:27 AM, News Network

Ashwini Kumar Choubey
[Ashwini Kumar Choubey takes oath as MoS for Health and Family Welfare. (File photo)]

Bhagalpur (Bihar): In a seemingly outrageous reaction Ashwini Kumar Choubey, a minister in Narendra Modi's cabinet, on Sunday said he was proud of his son Arijit Shashwat, who led a procession on Saturday in Bhagalpur which ended in communal clashes.

Lalmatia outpost in-charge Sanjeev Kumar, who was deployed in Nathnagar, said some of the slogans raised by the participants in procession were “provocative”, which could have triggered the violence, Choubey however did not see anything wrong.

“I am proud that Arijit is my son. All BJP workers are like my son. Is there anything wrong in leading a procession to celebrate the Hindu New Year? Kya Ma Bharat ki baat karna galat hai? Kya Vande Mataram kehna gunah hai? (Is it wrong to talk about Bharat Ma? Is it a crime to say Vande Mataram?)”, Choubey, Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, is quoted as saying by The Indian Express.

Communal clashes erupted in Bhagalpur’s Medini Chowk, a Muslim-dominated area under Nathnagar police station, on Saturday when the motorcycle rally led by Ashwini Kumar Choubey’s son Arijit Shashwat passed through the area. Police said there was stone pelting from both the sides which continued for about 45 minutes.

Situation in the town is tense but under control, though most of the shops remained closed on Sunday. Bhagalpur SSP Manoj Kumar said the police had filed an FIR against unknown persons. Police and paramilitary forces have been deployed in 18 sensitive pockets in and around Bhagalpur town, including at least 10 areas under Nathnagar police station.

Arijit Shashwat has political ambitions and had unsuccessfully contested the last state election as the BJP candidate from Bhagalpur. The BJP and its leaders on various occasions in the past have been accused of staging communal clashes for polarization of votes and build political career.

Bhagalpur had witnessed a deadly riot in 1989 which started on 24 October and continued for about two months. The violence affected the Bhagalpur city and 250 villages around it. Over 1,000 people- around 900 of which were Muslims, were killed, and another 50,000 were displaced as a result of the violence.

Bihar has been by and large free of communal tension till recently. The state however is on tenterhook ever since the BJP lost Araria Lok Sabha and Jehanabad Assembly by-elections last Wednesday. Soon after the results were declared, Union Minister Giriraj Singh and other local BJP leaders issued communal statements. An allegedly doctored video containing anti-India slogans was also circulated, forcing the police to arrest three Muslim youth. However the original video submitted to the police a day later proved the BJP leaders’ allegations wrong and fabricated.

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