Monday, 30th October 2017

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Rage against ‘communalism’ in Bihar

Supporters stopped trains, blocked roads, indulged in arson, damaged vehicles and confronted police at various places

By Dev Raj in Patna
  • Published 20.12.19, 4:11 AM
  • Updated 20.12.19, 4:11 AM
  • 3 mins read
Jan Adhikar Party Chief Pappu Yadav with supporters protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, National Register for Citizens and rise in the incidents of crime against women in the state during Bihar bandh, in Patna, on December 19, 2019. PTI

Bihar erupted against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens on Thursday as common people and students participated in a strike called by the Left as well as other Opposition parties such as the Hindustani Awam Morcha Secular, Jan Adhikar Party and the Vikassheel Insan Party.

The protests were widespread across the state as bandh supporters stopped trains, blocked roads, indulged in arson, damaged vehicles and confronted police at various places. They forcibly closed shops in different parts of the state.

CPI leader and former JNU Students’ Union president Kanhaiya Kumar led the protests of the Left parties and took out a march from the Gandhi Maidan in which several leaders, supporters and a large number of college students participated. It culminated at the Dak Bangalow Square in Patna.

“The central government has poured petrol and set everything on fire over the issue of CAA and NRC. Our country was progressing at its own speed. The CAA, then the NRC and later the National Population Register (NPR) are being brought only to divide the country. They are breaking our country and have brought anti-national laws. They want our inclusive country to burn in the fire of communalism,” Kanhaiya said.

The CPI leader added that the Centre wants to hide its failures and the deteriorating condition of the economy behind the smoke of the fire of communalism.

Kanhaiya said there was a huge difference between what Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah say and do, which has led to lakhs of people and students leaving their work and studies to come out on the streets to protest the CAA and the NRC.

“See what the Prime Minister had said about demonetisation and what happened. No black money came. He never does what he speaks. He just does his Mann ki Baat but never listens to the mann ki baat of the people. We are not opposing citizenship for refugees. We are opposing the move to trouble those who are staying here by asking them to prove through documents that they are citizens. See how the NRC failed in Assam,” Kanhaiya said.

The CPI leader asserted that everybody knows the condition of documents needed. He gave the example of voter identity cards that are rife with spelling mistakes, errors in photographs, father’s name, husband’s name and many other things.

“There are poor people and illiterates in the country who face lots of problems with regard to documents. The Dalits (Scheduled Castes) and Mahadalits do not possess land-related documents because they are landless people. Migrant labourers and their families keep shifting throughout their lives and don’t have documents. They all can face problems due to the CAA and the NRC,” Kanhaiya said.

He claimed to have information that about Rs 40,000 crore was lying unclaimed in provident fund accounts because of small mistakes in the documents needed to claim them.

Bandh supporters stopped trains in Patna, Darbhanga, Ara, Jehanabad, Nalanda and other railway stations in the state.

Major national highways, including NH2 that is also known as the Grand Trunk Road, were blocked at several places. The Gandhi Setu on the Ganga at Patna, considered the lifeline between the north and south Bihar, was also blocked. Similar situation prevailed in Purnea, Katihar, Kishanganj and Araria districts.

Protesters belonging to the Vikassheel Insan Party stopped a train at Rajendra Nagar station in Patna and demonstrated shirtless in the cold wave conditions sweeping across these parts of the state. Its leader Mukesh Sahni was arrested while trying to stop trains.

JAP male activists wore saris and danced at Hajipur in Vaishali districts while enforcing the bandh. JAP founder and former Lok Sabha member Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav and his supporters demonstrated in the state capital by wearing shackles and handcuffs. They chanted “azaadi” slogans while registering their protests.

The nationwide protests against the CAA and the NRC seem to have unsettled Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, who had addressed the legislation. Addressing a rally in Gaya as part of his ongoing Jal-Jeevan-Hariyali Yatra, he sought to assure the people belonging to the minority community.

“There will be no tampering with the rights of the minority community till I am here. You don’t need to be afraid of anything. I am giving you a guarantee about it,” Nitish said at the rally.

The Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal RJD have called a Bihar bandh on December 20 and 21, respectively.