| Chief minister Nitish Kumar at a news meet on Monday. Picture by Deepak Kumar |
Patna, Sept. 3: The simmering anger among the state’s women against the spiralling crime today burst into the open at Nitish Kumar’s janata durbar, a telling comment on the chief minister who had found substantial support from women in the last elections.
The chief minister, who blamed the protests on the “hot and humid weather”, sat in the durbar without a break from 10am to 8pm recording complaints.
More than a hundred women, not belonging to any particular organisation, descended on the durbar in the morning, shouting slogans against the chief minister and his government. Some even sat on dharna right in front of Nitish and did not move until the security personnel offered chairs to them.
Women of Bihar have been the most vocal admirers of Nitish and his regime due to improved law and order and several schemes like distributing uniforms and cycles to girls going to government schools. During the last Assembly elections, several women defied the dictates of male members of their family to vote for Nitish.
However, the recent spurt in crime against women and the insensitive behaviour of a section of officials have forced women across caste and class to speak out against the Nitish regime.
The chief minister himself tried to play down the incident. Asked by The Telegraph regarding the protest, Nitish blamed the weather.
“Actually the day was hot and humid. This is the reason why women must have lost their temper. Moreover, such kind of protests should take place in the janata durbar, else it will look quite dull,” the chief minister said.
“As far as their issues are concerned, I always listen to their problems and try to solve them. At the same time it is not possible to make everyone happy,” he added.
The uproar was triggered off around 11.45am when Indrakala Devi (38), of Keoti block in Darbhanga, was forcefully dragged away by women constables when she demanded justice from Nitish. This prompted the other women waiting for their turn to surge forward, shouting slogans.
Indrakala, who had come with a problem of land dispute, said: “The officers working under Nitish are corrupt, they ask for a bribe for everything. There is no respect for women.”
Hearing her outburst, the other women raised their voice. “Ye sarkar nikkami hai (This government is inefficient). Nothing better can happen in the regime of Nitish. How can the police treat women like this? Don’t we have any self-respect and dignity? This is the place where we narrate our problems to the chief minister, how can he just throw us out if he is not able to solve them,” said Rita Devi of Vaishali district.