Bihar: Madhepura District Magistrate Issues Alert On Chhath Puja, Calls Muslim Community "Mischievous Elements"
Chhath Puja, celebrated on October 2, Saturday, this year, is a significant Indian festival celebrated across the country, especially in Bihar. In Madhepura district, Magistrate Navdeep Shukla this year issued an alert on October 31, saying, “Water deposit in lanes through which Chhath Puja devotees cross, especially through Muslim settlements… overflowing drain water running through (these) roads causes tension. At times, dismantling of ghat structure because of the crowd also causes problems. Incidents of eve-teasing of relatives and acquaintances of devotees by mischievous elements from Muslim community cause tension. Passing objectionable remarks on Chhath devotees and their relatives causes law and order problems.”
The Indian Express reported that Shukla further warned against attempts by “mischievous elements intending to disturb communal harmony by placing flesh or body parts of dead animals in ponds and rivers”. The district administration said special precautions were being taken this time as there was communal tension during Dussehra and Muharram in Bihariganj area of the district in 2016. The district magistrate, in his order, has referred to an October 23 note from the office of the Additional Director General of Police (Special Branch) on security precautions to be taken during Chhath Puja. This note, however, was a general advisory and did not name any community.
Defending his position and order, Shukla said: “The order is based on Intelligence inputs. Other districts would have also issued such orders. Our idea is to avoid any breach of communal harmony”. When he was asked about why he named this particularly community explicitly , he replied “We put the Intelligence input the way it is. We cannot tone down the language. It is about issuing alerts to ensure that there is no law and order problem… Our goal is to maintain communal harmony”.
“It was inadvertently phrased,” Additional Chief Secretary, Home, Amir Subhani, said.
Bihar DGP Gupteshwar Pandey said the “tone of the order should have been changed”.
Further, according to the Additional Chief secretary , “The magistrate has been suitably advised”