Patna: After high-voltage drama by the local administration on orders from the top, former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) president and Communist Party of India leader, Kanhaiya Kumar, along with others were not allowed to hold a meeting and detained for nearly an hour ahead of a month-long people's Yatra (march) to protest against CAA-NRC-NPR (Citizenship Amendment Act, National Register of Citizens, National Population Register). Eventually, the march formally began on Thursday from Bhitiharwa Ashram in Bihar's West Champaran district, the historic land associated with Mahatma Gandhi’s first satyagraha.
Minutes ahead of the formal start of the Jana-Gana-Mana Yatra, hundreds of people who gathered at the site witnessed high-handedness of the local administration in West Champaran. There was heavy deployment of police also near Bhitiharwa Ashram, but the people used Gandhi's protest of sit-in and forced the district administration to allow them to hold a meeting there, which was addressed by the Kanhaiya Kumar, among others. After that, the Yatra began, with a large number of people joining it.
Earlier, Kumar, who is leading the Yatra against the “anti-poor” CAA-NRC-NPR, along with another former JNUSU president and Congress MLA from Bihar's Kadwa assembly seat, Shakeel Ahmad Khan, and hundreds of people from all sections of the society, including Left parties, workers, activists, intellectuals, students, workers, farmers, were detained by the local administration when they were going to hold a meeting for which prior permission has been taken.
However, much to the surprise of Kanhaiya Kumar and others, the district police officials informed them that they would not be allowed to hold meetings as the permission approved two days ago by the administration had been cancelled on Wednesday night in view of “threat to law and order."
“A large number of people protested against the administration by staging a dharna near the Ashram that forced them to allow us to hold meetings and start the Yatra. It is a victory of the people", Ghalib Khan, an education activist ,who was among those detained by police there ,told NewsClick.
According to Khan, the Yatra has been allowed to proceed to Bettiah, the district headquarter town of West Champaran, where a big public meeting will be held in the afternoon followed by another meeting at Motihari, district headquarter town of East Champaran.
It was Kanhaiya Kumar, who posted a tweet about how the administration tried to create trouble. "Today, historic land associated with Mahatma Gandhi’s first satyagraha. month-long Jana-Gana-Mana Yatra was to begin in Bapu-Dham (Champaran) to protest against the anti-poor CAA-NRC-NPR by bowing to Gandhi ji. People from all sections of the society are present to take part in this yatra, but the administration has taken us all into custody some time ago."
Shakeel Khan told NewsClick that local the administration was reportedly “pressured from the top to stop our Yatra to protest against CAA-NRC-NPR and police detained us and initially did not allow us to go ahead with Yatra.”
The Yatra is being held under the banner of “Bihar NPR-NRC-CAA Virodhi Sangharsh Morcha". It is a joint effort of civil society outfits, mass movement organisations, political workers, concerned individuals of the state, among others.
"The Yatra has single agenda -- to reach out to people. It will cover all 38 districts of Bihar and would address the people to bust the myths being propagated by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party about NRC-NPR-CAA. The purpose is to educate people from all communities and bring them together to oppose the anti-people policies of the central government," Khan said.
This Yatra is slated to reach Gandhi Maidan in Patna and will culminate into a rally on February 29, after covering the length and breadth of the state. "During the Yatra, we will focus on the real issues of the people like joblessness, poverty, economic slowdown, distress farmers to price rise and other issues,” Khan said.
Bihar chief minister and Janata Dal (United) president Nitish Kumar, an ally of the BJP, is supporting the CAA. On Wednesday, he expelled two senior party leaders -- Prashant Kishor and Pawan Verma -- for challenging and questioning his support to CAA.
The expulsion of both—Kishor, party national vice-president and Verma, party general secretary—from the JD-U, by Nitish Kumar is being seen as his assurance to BJP that there is no place in his party for those opposing CAA.