Members of Shiv Shastra Sena protest against the price hike of diesel at a petrol bunk (above) in Sakchi on Sunday. Pictures by Bhola Prasad
Several petrol pumps in Sakchi and other areas of Jamshedpur, which had dared to stay open during a 12-hour bandh on Sunday, faced the wrath of members of the students’ outfit that had called the shutdown against diesel price hike and cap on subsidised LPG cylinders.
Unruly scenes were witnessed at the petrol pumps — particularly two at Sakchi — as the bandh enforcers, all owing allegiance to Shiv Shastra Sena and many of them as young as 17 years, went on the rampage, breaking containers, throwing away articles and overturning parked bikes. The terror that they triggered was palpable as owners of other petrol outlets downed shutters on seeing the approaching youths.
However, police denied the vandalism, saying that the student activists went away after merely shouting slogans.
According to eyewitnesses, about 80 bike-borne youths, led by the outfit’s state president Sambhu Chaudhury, descended on the streets around 9am. The youths asked the management of fuel stations, most of which were open, to shut down.
While several pump owners gave in and immediately shut shop, some refused to budge, earning the anger of the frenzied youths.
A petrol pump near Sarkar Building in Sakchi faced the major brunt as the protesters went about damaging property. They overturned the container storing lubricants and tossed around articles kept at the office. The students did not even spare the five bikes that had come for refilling and overturned all of them. The rattled owner had no option but to down shutters.
But that did not pacify the mob, that turned its wrath on a fuel station near Bengal Club. But the authorities had a close shave as they closed the pump soon after spotting the protesters.
Next came the turn of a petrol pump near Sakchi gurdwara, where plastic a barriers were thrown away by bandh enforcers. The management soon stopped selling fuel.
The refill stations in rest of the localities of the city, including Sidhgora, Golmuri, Burmamines, Kadma and Sonari, remained closed till 12.30pm. In Bistupur, where police personnel kept guard, several petrol pumps that were open downed shutters at the sight of the bike-borne bandh supporters.
Police, however, played down the incidents.
Inspector of Sakchi police station Bhola Prasad Singh said a group of bike-borne protesters had tried to damage a petrol pump at Sakchi, but dispersed after a patrol party arrived at the scene.
“Police patrolling was carried out in view of the bandh. There was no report of violence from any petrol pump in Sakchi,” Singh told The Telegraph.
Shiv Shastra Sena state president Sambhu Chaudhury said that they had called the bandh as they wanted to send a message to the Centre.
“Our country is not facing any war or grave economic crisis. Yet, fuel prices are going up everyday. As a result, food items are also becoming pricier. If we don’t react, the government will take us granted,” said Chaudhury.
He added that the sena, which is a non-political outfit, also burnt the effigy of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at Sakchi roundabout on Friday night.
Members of another students’ outfit, Jharkhand Chhatra Morcha, also hit the streets on Sunday in support of the bandh called by Shiv Shastra Sena. They took out a procession at Agrico and Sidhgora and burnt the effigies of Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
Should people vandalise in the name of protest?