| A policeman frisks a citizen outside Sandis Compound Ground on Sunday. Picture by Amit Kumar |
Bhagalpur, Oct. 7: The district administration today kept around 450 people, including several contractual teachers, away from the rally site of Nitish Kumar to avert a Khagaria-like protest rerun.
Result: The chief minister addressed the Adhikar Yatra rally in the town amid heavy security deployment and without any murmur of protest.
Nitish’s cavalcade was greeted with black flags at Khagaria and other places last week with angry contractual teachers taking the protest path to press for their demands. The chief minister’s security was also breached at many places with people waving black flags at him and attacking his cavalcade with stones.
The otherwise busy Bhagalpur town wore a deserted look when Nitish addressed the meeting with the security forces keeping vehicles off the road and forcing the common people to stay indoors. A senior police officer said: “We had intelligence input suggesting large-scale protest before the chief minister. We did not take a chance with the security.”
Police sources revealed that over 2,000 additional forces were deployed at 45 sensitive points in the town to prevent possible unsavoury incidents.
The administration had slapped Section 107 of CrPC on 450 “possible troublemakers” — mostly aggrieved contractual teachers and student leaders — and asked them to be present at the offices of the sub-divisional and block development officers in their respective areas from 9am to 4.30pm. Section 107 is invoked to prevent people from unlawful gathering.
When Nitish reached the rally ground at 12noon, he had an audience of around 7,000. For the next 25 minutes, he unleashed a satirical tirade at predecessor Lalu Prasad, though he did not utter the RJD chief’s name.
“What does parivartan (change) mean? Does it mean a return to the dark days of the pati-patni sashan (husband-wife governance) in Bihar? Earlier, he (read Lalu) used to visit places on urankhatola (helicopter). But once the condition of roads changed following our efforts, he is moving here and there and spreading rumours about us. The people of Bihar have, however, become cautious and would not get trapped in his words,” Nitish said.
Lalu has undertaken a Parivartan Yatra across Bihar to take on Nitish’s movement for the special status tag for the state. “I don’t understand why some of my opponents have all of a sudden become so aggressive against our demand for special status for Bihar? The special status demand is meant for you, especially those who have been demanding increase of salary,” the chief minister said in an obvious reference to the agitating contractual teachers.
Nitish’s comments impressed the JD(U) supporters at the venue. “Look how Nitishji has turned the arrow towards Lalu and charged him with making contradictory statements against him,” Yogesh Yadav, a Bhagalpur JD(U) leader, told a friend in hushed tones.
But voices of resentment were quite audible outside the venue. Puran Kumar, a leader of the contractual teachers, said: “We had high expectations from Nitish but he has done nothing for us except coming out with some false promises. The teachers had no option but to resort to agitation.”
“Lalu and Nitish are fighting against each other and trying to misguide people with their words. This is why Bihar is still backward,” said Raghunath Prasad, a retired teacher who could not enter the ground.