Bajrang Dal members booked for planting saffron flags

Bajrang Dal members booked for planting saffron flags on shops

Two Bajrang Dal activists are among seven persons booked by police for planting saffron flags atop some shops in a locality here in Nalanda district and urging people to buy goods only from those outlets, the police said.

The incident took place at the Bharavpar chowk under the jurisdiction of the Laheri police station in the Bihar Sharif block on April 18. The matter came to light only late last week.

Two days after the episode, Bihar Sharif Block Development Officer (BDO) Rajiv Ranjan lodged an FIR at the Laheri police station against two local Bajrang Dal members -- Kundan Kumar and Dhiraj Kumar -- and five unidentified persons.

Station House Officer (SHO), Laheri, Birendra Yadav on Monday said a probe is on in the matter and no one has been arrested so far.

Kundan Kumar, one of the accused, denied the allegations and charged the police with framing him in the case as he had highlighted the presence of the Bihar Sharif sub-divisional officer (SDO) and sub-divisional police officer (SDPO) at a Tablighi Jamaat congregation here last month that was attended by over 600 people.

Nalanda is among the coronavirus hotspot districts of Bihar.

The Jamaat's event held in Bihar Sharif in the first half of March is blamed in some quarters for the spread of the infection in the district and neighbouring areas.

The BDO stated in the FIR that he visited the Bharavpur chowk after being tipped off by the SDO about the incident.

"When I reached the Bharavpar chowk, I saw Kundan Kumar, Dhiraj Kumar and five others planting saffron flags at some grocery, vegetable and fruit shops belonging to Hindus and they were also urging people to buy goods either from the shops sporting the flags or those owned by Hindus," the BDO stated in the FIR.

He said the members of the right-wing outfit posted a message using Twitter handle @Rahul Prince 1432, adding that they also uploaded a photograph of planting saffron flags on shops on the microblogging website.

The FIR has been lodged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including 147 (punishment for rioting), as also the Information Technology Act.

"The allegations made in the FIR are completely false and fabricated. I have nothing to do with it.

"As Bajrang Dal activists, we had distributed saffron flags among shop owners and vendors after a Ram Navami procession was withheld in view of the lockdown. Shopkeepers had put up the flags on their own later," Kundan Kumar said.

Efforts to contact the SDO and SDPO over the incident did not bear fruit.