Saturday, December 9, 2023

VHP’s shutdown evokes mixed response in Bihar

Patna, Sep 9 (IANS) VHP activists Tuesday went on a rampage in Bihar’s Bhagalpur district to impose a shutdown call to protest the alleged abduction and forcible conversion to Islam of a Hindu minor girl. They were also demanding the arrest of the four accused in this case, police said.

Hundreds of Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists armed with bamboo sticks vandalised a large number of shops and roadside stalls near a railway station and a bus stand in Bhagalpur, about 150 km from Patna, a district police official said.

“The VHP activists also damaged vehicles and attacked their drivers to ensure complete shutdown,” said Senior Superintendent of Police Vivek Kumar.

They halted trains and blocked railway tracks disrupting rail traffic for many hours, he said.

Police said the shutdown evoked a mixed response as shops and markets remained closed in some areas but vehicles could be seen plying.

According to a First Information Report (FIR) lodged by the mother of the 17-year-old victim, the girl went to her ancestral village Dhuwabe in Bhagalpur to attend a ceremony April 30.

She was abducted by four boys and taken to Patna, New Delhi and then back to Bhagalpur, where one of the boys married her, the mother said.

The girl was rescued by police May 24.

According to the FIR, the girl told her mother that she escaped from the boy’s house as he lied to her about his religion. The girl said she was forcibly converted after being beaten up and tortured.

The girl was also threatened that she would be sold in a red light area and her family members would be killed, police said.

Vivek Kumar said: “In her statement in the court, the girl said she went with the boy of her own volition.”

He said the boy, being a minor, was sent to a remand home.

“The VHP activists also forced institutions, including schools, to remain closed today (Tuesday),” police said.

The shutdown is also supported by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Bhagalpur, which is considered its stronghold after the 1989 communal riots.

The district administration has deployed 15 videographers to record the VHP’s activities during the shutdown.

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