Patna: Former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union president and Communist Party of India leader, Kanhaiya Kumar-led Jana-Gana-Mana Yatra in protest against CAA-NRC-NPR was attacked by a group of right-wing youths on Saturday (February 1) afternoon in Bihar’s Chhapra district.
The attackers, who were shouting pro-CAA-NRC slogans, damaged the vehicles, pelted stones and tried to stop the protesters at Kopa in Chhapra. “Glasses of five vehicles of the Yatra were damaged and some people sustained injuries,” former JNUSU president and Congress MLA from Bihar's Kadwa Assembly seat, Shakeel Ahmad Khan, who has been accompanying Kanhaiya in the Yatra said.
He added that Kanhaiya is safe and now extra care and security will be taken in the course of the Yatra, as there are threats of further attacks.
Khan told NewsClick, “It was an organised attack by right wing forces as this Yatra has been getting overwhelming support from local people cutting across communities on its way. Huge crowds have gathered at each public meeting. This attack on Kanhaiya-led Yatra has exposed the violent mindset of the people supporting CAA-NRC. But one thing that should be highlighted is that it also showed lack of administrative arrangements. The local police was aware and had received prior information that a group of nearly 20 youths were standing in Kopa to create trouble or oppose our Yatra. However, the police failed to provide protection to the people participating in the Yatra"
Minutes before leaving Siwan for Chhapra, Kanhaiya told NewsClick that the ongoing Yatra against CAA-NRC-NPR are attracting large numbers of people, more than they had expected.
Also read: Gandhian Wave of Protests Against CAA-NRC Spreads Across Bihar
Interestingly, the attack happened in the presence of the local police that was deployed to provide safety and security to the protesters. But Kopa police station officer in-charge neglected the imminent threat of attack and was not accompanying the police team at the incident site.
This was not the first case, the Yatra had faced opposition in Bettiah, West Champaran and Gopalganj districts too. The march began on January 30 from Bhitiharwa Ashram in Bihar's West Champaran district, the historic land associated with Mahatma Gandhi’s first satyagraha. It 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.
Two days ago, after a high-voltage drama by the local administration on orders from the top, Kanhaiya Kumar, along with others were not allowed to hold a meeting and detained for nearly an hour ahead of the month-long people's Yatra.
Minutes ahead of the formal start of the Jana-Gana-Mana Yatra, hundreds of people who gathered at the site witnessed the administration’s high-handedness. There was heavy deployment of police near Bhitiharwa Ashram, but the people organised a peaceful sit-in and forced the district administration to allow them to hold a meeting there, which was addressed by Kanhaiya Kumar, among others. After that, the Yatra began, with a large number of people joining it.
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 a 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.
"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.
Also read: Protests Against CAA-NRC Spread to Over 30 Districts in Bihar