| George Fernandes speaks to family members of one of three students allegedly shot by police in Patna. (AFP)
Patna, Jan. 2: A red alert has been sounded in Bihar before an Opposition-sponsored bandh tomorrow in protest against the killing of three youths in an alleged fake police encounter, which has snowballed into a political battle against the RJD government.
Several trains have been cancelled or rescheduled because of the bandh.
The trains which have been cancelled on Friday are:
n3401 Up Bhagalpur-Danapur Intercity Express
n3467 Up Bhagalpur-New Delhi Vikramshila Express
n3419 Up Bhagalpur-Muzaffarpur Janseva Express
n2023 Up Howrah-Patna Shatabdi Express
Saturday’s 5047 Up Howrah-Gorakhpur Purvanchal Express has been cancelled.
The departure schedule of some trains have been changed for Friday. The new timings are given below.
n3447 Up Bhagalpur-Dadar Express from 9.15 am to 6 pm
n3404 Dn Vananchal Express from 3 pm to 6.30 pm
n2303 Up Poorva Express from 9.15 am to 12.45 pm
n3007 Up Udayan Abha Toofan Express from 9.45 am to 10.45 am
All police stations have been kept on high alert in view of widespread violence and burnings during the Patna bandh on December 31.
Security forces were being deployed in all sensitive pockets and special attention was being paid to vital instalations and railway property, director-general of police R.R. Prasad said.
Besides the NDA, the CPI, the CPI-ML (Liberation), the Lok Janshakti Party, the Bihar People’s Party and the Indian Federal Democratic Party have called a Bihar bandh tomorrow.
“The movement that has been launched by the students and youths will not be allowed to peter out without punishment to the guilty police personnel.... It is time the corrupt, inefficient and insensitive Rabri Devi ministry went,” NDA convener George Fernandes told reporters after a meeting of alliance constituents.
He, however, rejected suggestions for imposition of President’s rule, saying the NDA did not have the required strength in the Rajya Sabha. Fernandes also nixed the option of a joint Parliament session to dismiss the state government, saying the Constitution does not permit it.
Rabri Devi said her government was prepared for a CBI probe if the bereaved families made the demand in writing. Yesterday, Shamse Alam, the officer-in-charge of Shastrinagar police station, was arrested by the CID, which is probing the encounter, and was remanded in judicial custody in Beur jail.
Laloo Prasad Yadav reacted strongly to the bandh call, saying: “It is unwarranted.… The Opposition, including the NDA, is trying to politicise the matter and instigate vandalism. We are doing everything possible.”
“A CID probe is underway, a police sub-inspector has been sent to jail and we have announced a cash compensation for the victims’ families.”
But the government received a jolt when the families of two victims, Himanshu and Prashant, refused to accept the compensation offered by the district magistrate.
Lok Janshakti Party president Ram Vilas Paswan, too, demanded a CBI inquiry. “CID probe for what, when the police personnel himself filed an FIR admitting that he had killed three hardcore criminals (students). We demand a CBI probe into the matter as well as the NHRC going into the details of the killings,” he told reporters.
The incident has also bared sharp differences in the state Congress with two legislators, Mahachandra Prasad Singh and Shivnandan Singh, taking strong exception to PCC president Shakeel Ahmed’s silence over the encounter. Demanding a CBI probe into the incident, the two leaders called for Ahmed’s removal.
As many as 80 passenger trains passing through Bihar have been cancelled, rescheduled or regulated in the view of the bandh.