| CPI(ML) Liberation supporters walk through doorframe metal detectors on Beer Chand Patel Marg on their way to the Khabardar Rally. Picture by Nagendra Kumar Singh |
Members and supporters of CPI(ML) Liberation who came for the Khabardar Rally on Wednesday got a taste of security very different from their BJP counterparts during Hunkar Rally on Sunday.
Eight low-intensity blasts had hit Patna Junction and Gandhi Maidan — the venue of the BJP rally — on Sunday for over 65 minutes and the police had been unable to check them.
The police left nothing to chance for the Khabardar Rally. The venue of the meet had been shifted to the grounds of Miller High School at Beer Chand Patel Path, from the Gandhi Maidan after the security forces discovered live bombs at the original venue on Tuesday. But the school grounds were used as a shelter for rally attendants who had reached the city in the night.
For the first time in the history of Patna, a rally was held in the middle of the road — Beer Chand Patel Marg — by stopping traffic. The stage from which CPI (ML) Liberation general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya addressed the party supporters was constructed in front of the office of the accountant-general.
The police threw an intricate net of security around the venue. People going to attend the rally had to pass intense security checks.
Fifteen doorframe metal detectors had been set up at Income Tax roundabout, R-Block, the office of the accountant-general and Amarnath Road. After passing through the surveillance doors, people were frisked. Those carrying polythene or bags had to open them and show the contents to the policemen on duty. Around 80 magistrates were on duty to ensure that there was no chink in the security.
The district administration also recorded the event, which began at 9am and continued till 3pm, on video to keep an eye on troublemakers.
Unlike Hunkar Rally, when there was absolute chaos about taking the injured to hospitals, ambulances and fire tenders were on standby on Wednesday.
An additional district magistrate-rank officer on duty said: “We did not want to take any risk after what happened on Sunday. We have been ordered to remain on duty till every last rally attendant has left the venue.”
Patna city superintendent of police (SP) Jayant Kant, who also holds the additional portfolio of traffic SP, remained at the spot till Bhattacharya finished addressing the crowd. Sachivalaya deputy SP Manish Kumar made rounds of the stage every 20 minutes.
Bhattacharya, however, berated the government for not providing his party Gandhi Maidan for the rally. “It is unfortunate that the administration could not provide us Gandhi Maidan for our rally. Chief minister Nitish Kumar asks the poor people for votes but when he doesn’t think of poor people. He helps only the corporates.”