The nation-wide strike call was given by upper caste groups against changes in SC/ST Act, UP remained unaffected.
Patna: Normal life was hit in various parts of Bihar Thursday and train services were briefly affected in Patna and Rajgir on account of a ‘Bharat bandh’ call given by some upper caste groups against the recent amendments in the SC/ST Act.
In Rajasthan, shops and business establishments, schools and other educational institutions remained closed but no untoward incident was reported so far.
Earlier this year, the apex court had removed the strict provision of mandatory arrests under the SC/ST Act, which triggered nationwide protests by Dalit organizations. Following this, the Centre brought an amendment to the Act during the monsoon session to overrule the SC order.
The bandh supporters, owing allegiance to several nondescript organisations, staged a demonstration in front of the BJP state headquarters at Birchand Patel Marg in Patna raising slogans against what they call “betrayal by the very party we have been voting for”. The gate of the premises remained locked from inside.
Some of them also headed towards the office of chief minister Nitish Kumar-led JD(U), a BJP ally, just a few hundred metres away on the same road, but here also they the gates were closed.
Earlier, the bandh supporters stormed the Rajendra Nagar Railway Terminus in the state capital and disrupted movement of trains for about half-an-hour, officials said.
Bandh supporters also took out processions in the Ashok Rajpath area where Patna University and colleges affiliated to it are located.
Shops and commercial establishments largely remained closed in most parts of the state capital, but banks and government offices functioned normally.
The shutdown had a strong impact in Muzaffarpur, where bandh supporters blocked various points inside the town, besides the national highways running along.
In Nalanda district, the movement of trains was disrupted on account of a demonstration staged inside the Rajgir railway station, official said. Arson was reported in many parts of the Biharsharif town.
The bandh had its impact in Begusarai as well where traffic was disrupted on national and state highways. In Jehanabad, the bandh supporters stopped trucks on the Arwal More and deflated tyres, causing a massive traffic jam on NH83 and NH110.
Bandh-related disturbances were reported from various parts of Bhagalpur, Nawada, Bhojpur and Sheohar districts as well.
Bandh evokes good response in Rajasthan
In Rajasthan, the ‘Bharat bandh’ call evoked a good response. Shops were shut in Jaipur, Karauli, Pratapgarh, Udaipur, Pali, Nagaur and other districts. Schools too remained closed in view of the bandh.
“We have deployed additional forces in the state and the local police are already on the roads in view of the bandh call,” special DG (law and order) N.R.K. Reddy said.
“So far, no violence or any untoward incident has taken place and everything is under control and peaceful,” he added.
Meanwhile, members of Samta Andolan Samiti, an organisation which campaigns for changes in the caste-based reservation system, alleged “suppressive action” by the state government as the police detained their leaders.
“Our leaders were detained by the police which was an action to suppress our voices. We neither had any plan for violence nor we did anything which disturbed law and order, but the police took action,” said Yogendra Singh, a Samta Andolan Samiti member.
Bharat bandh call has ‘no meaning’, says UP CM
The Bharat bandh call did not have any visible impact in Uttar Pradesh.
“It (Bharat bandh call) has no meaning. People have their feelings. In a democracy everyone has the right to express themselves,” Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath said.
Defending the provisions of the Act, Adityanath said his government will ensure that the law is not misused.
“The BJP government is committed towards the welfare of people and development. We never play politics of caste and religion,” he told mediapersons in Gonda where he had gone to visit flood-hit areas.
“The law is to protect the downtrodden. The government will ensure that it will not be misused,” the CM added.
Reports from districts across the state said life was by and large normal despite the bandh call. There was no report of any untoward incident, officials said. — PTI