Expressing grave concern over the recent rise in incidents of communal violence, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram has asked all Chief Ministers to maintain heightened vigil and deal suitably with elements who provoke discord.

In a letter to the Chief Ministers, the Home Minister asked them to comprehensively review the situation in their States and identify the towns or wards or neighbourhoods which are communally sensitive and instruct police and other officials to maintain constant vigil there.

“Since the period from now until the end of January 2012 is marked by a number of religious occasions as well as commemorative dates and public holidays, it is important that the State governments maintain a high degree of vigil so that there are no communal incidents,” he said.

The Home Minister also asked the Chief Ministers to be particularly careful and watch those elements likely to provoke discord and trigger communal incidents. Such elements “should be identified and dealt with suitably.”

Mr. Chidambaram's letter comes in the backdrop of communal violence in Rajasthan's Bharatpur and Uttarakhand's Rudrapur. He said that in August, there were 44 incidents and 10 lives were lost; in September, there were 60 incidents and 16 lives were lost. Besides, a number of people were injured in these incidents. “In recent weeks, there has been a rise in the number of incidents of communal discord and strife in several States of the country. This is a matter of concern,” he said.

“A careful analysis of the incidents shows that the spark was usually a trivial issue such as collision of two motorcycles, dispute over playing of loudspeaker, wordy quarrel over a petty issue etc. In such cases, it appears that the incident was deliberately provoked by attempting to disturb a religious procession or an attack on a place of worship,” he said.

On a few occasions, the Centre had to rush Central Armed Police Forces to assist the State police authorities in restoring law and order.

This month (up to October 11), there have been 15 incidents in which six persons were killed and 112 injured. Some of these incidents started with a minor dispute but certain other incidents were deliberately provoked by one group or the other.

“This shows that there are certain fundamentalist elements which are bent upon escalating communal tensions,” Mr. Chidambaram said. In 2010, 114 people were killed and 2,115 injured in 651 incidents of communal violence.