| Policemen (encircled) look away as a strike supporter stops a car near the Assembly in Patna on Thursday. Picture by Deepak Kumar |
The nationwide dawn-to-dusk bandh on Thursday forced an off day on Patnaites, compelling the most thorough professionals to stay indoors.
Most of the office-goers banking on public transport had to abort their plan of hitting the workstation because neither buses, nor autorickshaws plied in the morning. Those started for office on their personal vehicles had to return midway heckled by bandh supporters.
The baton-wielding BJP and JD(U) supporters foulmouthed motorists and shattered windowpanes of several cars. The BJP and the JD(U) activists created panic at Dakbungalow roundabout by chasing people on bikes or in other vehicles. Several officer-goers were physically forced to return in the presence of top-rung BJP leaders.
The scene was the same throughout the city. Amit Kumar, a resident of Ashiana Nagar and an employee of a private firm, had a start-stop experience on his way to the office. “As usual, I left my home around 9.30am but I was stopped right at Ashiana Mor. I took another route and reached Bailey Road. But I was stopped again by a mob at Sheikhpura Mor. Finally, I had to go back home.”
Amit did not give up, though. Beating the spirit of bandh supporters, he started again for office at 1pm. This time, he managed to dodge the strike imposers and reach his workstation.
Not all were as spirited as Amit. As a result, the attendance at the secretariat was very low. A security guard at the entrance gate of Vikas Bhavan (New Secretariat) claimed that less than 50 per cent employees of the secretariat had turned up. He was spot on because most of the offices wore a deserted look around 10.30am.
Banks were open, but there was hardly any business. The city streets were deserted throughout the day. People did not venture out as shops and markets were closed.
Railway passengers had a harrowing experience on and off trains. They reached their destination hours behind schedule because of bandh supporters’ blockade on railway tracks. Out of train, they did not find any transport to reach home or hotel.
|Passengers flee as strike supporters attack an autorickshaw (top) and women walk with infants in their arms after getting off trains at Rajendra Nagar Terminus
in Patna on Thursday. Pictures by Deepak Kumar
Protesters were in action from early morning. Rajendra Nagar Terminus witnessed their presence at 5.30am. Over 200 activists of Rashtriya Mahila Brigade, a non-political group, squatted on railway tracks for two hours. Danapur-Sahebganj Intercity Express (13236), Farakka Express (13483), North East Express (12505) and Rajdhani Express (12309) were detained.
Tapash Kumar Sahu, a passenger of Farakka Express, asked: “What these protesters will achieve by stopping the trains and troubling passengers?” Alighting from Rajdhani Express, Umesh Prasad had to struggle hard to find a transport home. An exasperated Umesh said: “I support the bandh but public transport should not be affected. Protesters must understand the problems of passengers travelling on long-distance trains.”
Several flyers also remained stranded at Jai Prakash Narayan International Airport in the absence of taxi service. “I reached Patna airport at 6:30am and I am stuck here for the past five hours because no taxis are running,” said Irshad Ahmed, who had come from Muscat.
In the absence of taxis, pedal rickshaw-pullers made fast bucks.