City hostage to fear and fury of bandh brigands

Vandalism marred the purpose behind Bharat Bandh, the call for which was given by the Congress and supported by 21 parties over spiralling fuel prices.

By Roshan Kumar in Patna
  • Published 11.09.18
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Protesters put up a road blockade with bamboo poles opposite hotel Patliputra Continental at the Anisabad roundabout on Monday. Picture by Manoj Kumar

Patna: Vandalism marred the purpose behind Bharat Bandh, the call for which was given by the Congress and supported by 21 parties over spiralling fuel prices.

Since day-break, bandh supporters stopped autorickshaws, cars and other vehicles by resorting to violence across Patna by smashing glasses of buses, four-wheelers and deflating tyres of the vehicles.

Dakbungalow being the nerve centre of the protest was the most affected with leaders from all Opposition parties, along with their supporters, started assembling at the roundabout since morning.

Supporters of the RJD and Madhepura MP Pappu Yadav's party Jan Adhikar Party (Loktantrik) were seen indulging in vandalism in most of the places.

At Dakbungalow roundabout, Jan Adhikar Party (Loktantrik) workers smashed the glass of a car passing through the area. Eyewitnesses said the bandh supporters even tried to misbehave with the car driver, but on the intervention of police he was allowed to leave the protest area.

The JAP supporters even deflated the tyres of two-wheelers passing through the protest areas. The vandalism created unrest and tension among locals and people who went out of their houses for work.

Sunil Raj, who was stuck at the Dakbungalow roundabout protest, said: "We are also victims of fuel price hikes, we too support the bandh against the Narendra Modi government, but the way the bandh supporters went on a destruction spree scared us."

A bandh supporter forces a man to close his shop in Patna on Monday. (PTI)

Sunil, who owns a computer shop on SP Verma Road, had to drag his bike to the shop by covering nearly one kilometre, as bandh supporters deflated the tyres of his vehicle near Dakbungalow roundabout.

The roads mostly remained deserted as BSRTC buses didn't operate because of fear of vandalism. Autorickshaws, e-rickshaws and cab services also ceased to operate, hampering normal life.

The cross-district bus services from Bankipore depot near Gandhi Maidan also broke down. Rubi Kumari, 20, and Kavita Kumari, 19, both from Muzaffarpur got stuck in Patna because of the bandh. "We are waiting here for more than two hours. Thre's not a single bus for Muzaffarpur. The bus operators are saying the services would resume only in the evening."

The bandh supporters damaged half-a-dozen bus windowpanes at Rajendra Nagar and Kankarbagh. At Dakbungalow, Patna Junction, Rajendra Nagar and Kankarbagh, the protesters created a ruckus in the presence of police.

The protesters disrupted railway services at Rajendra Nagar Terminus, Danapur, Gulzarbagh in Patna City and Patna Sahib railway staions, leading to long hours of wait for the passengers.

Ayush Anand, 19, said: "I have to board the Farkka Express to reach Bhagalpur. The train was scheduled at 12.50pm but I am in Patna for over two hours but the train hasn't come. #Patna central range deputy inspector-general of police (DIG) Rajesh Kumar said: "We have arrested 219 people in connection with charges of creating disturbances during the bandh. Cases have been lodged against the bandh supporters. We are identifying most of them through CCTV footages."

Monday's bandh left a sense of fear among residents of Patna. Sudhakar Lal, a trader at Boring Road, said: "The way the bandh was observed in all likelihood the Opposition's image will take a hit. The Opposition should have peacefully marked the bandh seeking people cooperation."