| (From top) Brajkishore Sharma Akela, Niranjan Kumar and Kalika Shah at the durbar. Pictures by Deepak Kumar
Monday’s bandh had an impact on the chief minister’s janata durbar as only 271 people could turn up at Nitish Kumar’s official residence — that too after hours of toil on road.
The turnout was far below than the usual attendance of over 1,000 people who visit at the durbar on Mondays. Some of those who managed to reach 1 Aney Marg had to fight all odds on the way.
The Telegraph tracked the journey of some of them who had to struggle to reach the durbar and share their problems with the chief minister.
One of them was Brajkishore Sharma Akela, a resident of Balauri village in Rukashganj block in Jehanabad district, 50km south of Patna. It took him 10 hours to cover the distance. Akela, a 65-year-old farmer, told The Telegraph that he left home around 2pm on Sunday.
“I had to walk 10km to reach Islampur railway station as no autorickshaw was available because of the threat perception surrounding the bandh. By the time I reached the station, I was so tired that I could not go and stand at the ticket counter. A man got a ticket for me. I reached Patna Junction around 12 midnight and spent the whole night on platform number one,” said Akela.
The farmer, who was visiting the durbar to raise the issue of development in his village, said: “On a normal day, the journey would have taken two-three hours. But since there was a bandh call, I did not want to take risk,” he said.
The job of 64-year-old Kalika Shah of Rohtas district, 150km west of Patna, was even more difficult. Shah, who owns a small grocery shop, had to spend Rs 150 to reach the durbar.
“I was aware of the Bihar bandh so I did not take any chance. I started my journey around 2pm on Sunday. I took a bus from Kochas and reached Mithapur bus stand at 11.30pm. It was not wise to visit the chief minister’s house at that time, so I thought of going there in the morning. I had to spend the whole night at the bus stand,” he said.
On Monday morning, he had to walk 8km to reach 1 Aney Marg. “Not a single autorickshaw agreed to take me to the chief minister’s durbar. A driver told me that his vehicle would be attacked if bandh enforcers found him ferrying a passenger. It took me two hours to cover the distance,” Shah, who was visiting the durbar to seek help for his son suffering from cancer, said.
The Telegraph met another applicant who reached the durbar with great difficulty. Niranjan Kumar, 48, a resident of Begusarai district, 130km east of Patna, took 16 hours to reach the chief minister’s residence, a distance that can be covered in roughly five hours.
“I have never faced so much difficulty in visiting Patna. I was scared that there might be trouble today (Monday). So, I started a day early. But that did not help me. I started my journey around 2pm and boarded a passenger train from Begusarai. I fail to understand how the train took 12 hours to reach Patna Junction.”
Kumar, who was visiting the durbar to complain against the block development officer for not paying attention to his work, added: “The train reached Patna Junction around 2am on Monday. The journey was pathetic. I was at the platform till 6am. What made things worse was that I could not find any vehicle, for going to the chief minister’s durbar.”
He added that he would never visit the durbar on a bandh day.