The Telegraph
Friday , January 29 , 2010
Since 1st March, 1999
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Shutdown paralyses life

Patna, Jan. 28: The RJD-sponsored bandh today to protest spiralling prices of essential commodities turned out to be a show of strength by Lalu Prasad.

Lalu marched from his 10 Circular Road residence to Dakbungalow roundabout on foot with lathi in hand, leading a band of supporters aggressive enough to intimidate people into staying indoors. The workers blocked traffic on the national highways at many places and patrolled the streets. Official sources said most shops in Jehanabad, Bhagalpur, Gaya, Gopalganj, Sitamarhi, Muzaffarpur, Begusarai, Samastipur, Chapra, Darbhanga and Saharsa remained closed.

Private buses, three-wheelers and cab operators suspended their services. Bandh supporters also squatted on railway tracks at many places between Patna and Lakhi Sarai and Patna–Gaya routes affecting the movement of trains on these routes for some time.

RJD workers invaded bus stands smashing windowpanes of parked buses at Mithapur and elsewhere. They also ransacked the library of Patna University, waylaid many three-wheelers and upturned makeshift shops of litti-chokha and eggs. They blocked highways in Gopalganj (Lalu’s native district), east and west Champaran, Darbhanga, Khagaria and Purnea.

Almost all the schools and colleges across the state remained closed and attendance in central and state government offices and the state secretariat were affected.

The police took over 5,500 bandh supporters including LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan and RJD leaders Lalu Prasad, Rabri Devi, Raghubansh Prasad Singh, Akhilesh Singh, Abdul Bari Sidiqui and Ramkripal Yadav into custody. They were later released.

“Take us and keep us in 1 Anne Marg (chief minister’s official residence). I will issue an order to bring down the prices within a minute,” Lalu claimed when the police arrived to arrest him.

Nitish Kumar, speaking from Bodh Gaya where he is on a three-day sojourn, described the Lalu-sponsored bandh as “ridiculous”.

“Lalu Prasad has extended his support to the UPA government at the Centre — which is responsible for the price rise. The RJD chief should first withdraw his support to the UPA and then speak on price rise,” the chief minister said.

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