Security of Bihar BJP leaders Tightened, MLA Calls Agnipath Protesters ‘Jihadists’
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Patna: Security of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, ministers, MPs, MLAs and party offices in Bihar has been tightened following the violent protests against the armed forces recruit scheme Agnipath in several districts of the state.
In a statement that could stoke the protests in Bihar, saffron-clad BJP MLA Hari Bhushan Thakur, who has emerged as a firebrand Hindutva icon in the state, said on Monday that the protesters are “jihadists”. Last week, Union minister Giriraj Singh alleged that the destruction of public property during the protests was the handiwork of the “goondas of the Rashtriya Janata Dal” (RJD).
According to the police headquarters in the state capital, personnel of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), a Central Armed Police Force (CAPF), have been deployed at BJP offices in 11 districts. The BJP and its partner Janata Dal (United) are part of the National Democratic Alliance coalition ruling Bihar.
“SSB jawans were deployed at BJP offices following a high-level directive. The decision to deploy one SSB platoon each at the party office in every district was made to avoid any untoward incident,” a police officer said.
Besides, security has also been tightened at all BJP offices at the block level. Earlier, additional security forces, including the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)—which is also part of the CAPF—were deployed at the BJP state headquarters in Patna and in other districts.
In view of the growing anger of the youth against the BJP, party leaders in rural as well as urban areas are not reportedly using the party flag, posters and banners on their vehicles to avoid being targeted.
Security forces in massive numbers were deployed across the state on Monday, particularly at railway stations, in view of the Bharat Bandh. Internet services remained suspended in 20 districts and prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure CrPC were imposed in several districts. Opposition RJD has opposed the suspension of the Internet.
Student bodies of Left parties took out protest marches across the state to express support for the shutdown and blocked roads in several places. No violence was reported during the shutdown.
According to ADG law and order Sanjay Singh, 159 FIRs have been lodged by the police and around 877 protesters arrested so far.
Protests against the scheme first erupted in Bihar last week and soon spread to several other states after the Narendra Modi government announced that 45,000 soldiers, airmen and sailors in the 17.5-21 age group would be recruited as Agniveers for only four years with only 25% of them being absorbed for another 15 years based on merit and performance. The rest will get a one-time tax-free Seva Nidhi package of around Rs 11.71 lakh with no gratuity or pension.
On June 16, protesters set fire to the BJP office in Nawada district and attacked party MLA Aruna Devi’s vehicle injuring two of her bodyguards. The house of Chapra BJP MLA Dr CN Gupta was attacked the same day.
On June 17, protesters attacked the houses of several BJP leaders, including state president and MP Sanjay Jaiswal and deputy chief minister (CM) Renu Devi, in Bettiah, the district headquarters of West Champaran. A vehicle of party MLA Vinay Bihari was damaged in Motihari, the district headquarters of East Champaran, and the BJP offices in Lakhisarai and Rohtas districts were also attacked.
Jaiswal questioned the failure of the police and the administration in protecting BJP leaders and party offices. Subsequently, ten BJP leaders, including Jaiswal and Renu Devi, were provided Y-class security by the home ministry.
Sensing trouble for the BJP leaders in Bihar, the state government beefed up the security of the house of another deputy CM Tarkishor Prasad, a senior party leader in Katihar district.
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