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Trains soft shutdown target

Trains once again became the soft target of strike on Sunday during the JD(U)-sponsored dawn-to-dusk shutdown in protest against the Centre’s alleged discriminatory attitude towards providing special status to Bihar.

The bandh enforcers stopped around 40 trains, including a few long distance ones, at different places. Barring sporadic clashes and display of firearms at some place to enforce the strike, the strike passed off peacefully.

As many as 40 trains were stopped in Patna, Jehanabad, Gaya, Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga, Goraoul (Vaishali), Sasaram (Rohtas), Rajgir (Nalanda), Bhagalpur, Madhepura and Saharsa, leaving the passengers stranded for several hours. Some of the important trains stopped by the protesters included Howrah-Danapur Express, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus-Rajendra Nagar Express, Vaishali Express, Palamau Express, Shramjivi Express, Saptakranti Express and Bhagalpur-Lokmanya Tilak Express.

The protesters also blocked the national highways and other key roads across the state. Buses, trucks and other vehicles remained off roads in most places, landing passengers in the soup.

Police said 1,708 protesters were detained for disrupting the rail and road traffic. Of them, 72 bandh supporters were taken into custody in Patna alone. “They all were released in the evening,” additional director-general (headquarters) Ravinder Kumar said, adding that there was no report of any untoward incident during the bandh.

The CPI, which extended support to the JD(U)’s strike, took out marches in the areas of its influence to vent the party’s ire against the Centre’s apathetic attitude towards the state’s long-pending demand for the special status. The JD(U) workers took to streets in the city and other places to ensure markets and business establishments were closed.

Chief minister Nitish Kumar, accompanied by a number of ministers and senior party leaders, walked from his official residence at 1 Aney Marg in Patna to Gandhi Maidan to take part in the daylong dharna (sit-in) in front of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue.

The strike supporters burnt tyres and put up road blockades at different places in Patna. A group burnt tyres on Ashok Rajpath near Patna University and in front of Rajendra Nagar Terminal to bring the vehicular traffic to a grinding halt. The main markets remained closed.

In Rohtas, some strike enforcers displayed firearms. They fled the spot when policemen arrived.

One Subodh Kumar, salesman of a liquor shop, was brutally assaulted by protesters in Aurangabad. He has been admitted to Aurangabad sadar hospital.

Bandh supporters had a field day in Muzaffarpur as the JD(U) workers forced shopkeepers to down their shutters. They even created trouble for commuters by blocking roads in different parts, including Akharaghat, Barhampura, Mithanpura and Khadi Bhandar Chowk. They also blocked national highways at several places, including Panapur and Kanti (NH-28), Kudhni (NH-57) and Sharfuddinpur (NH-77).

The JD(U) leaders took out a procession in Gaya at 7.30am. Marching through thoroughfares of the town, they made an appeal to the people to support the bandh. Led by the JD(U) district president, Abhay Kushwaha, the party leaders sat on the road near the Gaya collectorate for nearly two hours from 10am.

The bandh call evoked good response in Gaya with most business establishments remaining closed. Essential services like medicine stores and hospitals were exempted from the bandh.

In Chhapra, the bandh supporters moved around different parts of the town under the leadership of the JD(U) MLC and the deputy chairman of Bihar Legislative Council, Salim Parvej, urging shopkeepers to down their shutters. While majority of the shops remained closed, it was business as usual for liquor stores.

Darbhanga town wore a deserted look throughout the day, as most of the business establishments remained closed during the bandh. The vehicular movement was adversely hit because the bandh supporters blocked the main roads at several points, including Donar Chowk and Tower.