Patna: Ignoring bone chilling cold, thousands of people along with supporters and workers of Left parties and other Opposition parties took to the streets protesting against Citizenship (Amendment)Act 2019, (CAA) as well as the National Register of Citizens (NRC) during Bihar Bandh (shutdown) on Thursday. The shutdown badly affected normal life across the state.
The shutdown called by the Left parties and supported by other Opposition parties resulted in blockade of railway tracks and that disrupted train movement and bus, truck and other vehicles across the state, which is ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party-Janata Dal (United) alliance.
A senior police official at police headquarters here admitted to NewsClick that the shutdown had badly hit rail and road traffic.
Slogan shouting supporters and workers of Left parties with red flags and banners in their hands along with other Opposition parties stopped over two dozen trains including long route express and passenger, at Patna, Darbhanga, Katihar, Gaya, Purnea, Saharsa, Jehanabad, Bihar Sharif in Nalanda, Khagaria,Ara in Bhojpur, Bhagalpur and other railway stations.
The protestors also halted trains at Rajendra Nagar terminal in Patna and blocked Patna-Gaya train route Jehanabad."Several trains were halted to enforce shutdown," a police officer said.
Roads were also blocked at various places across the state. Left parties supporters blocked different NHs and state highways in over two dozen districts. The national highway was blocked in Patna, Vaishali, Gaya,and state highway were blocked in Nawada, Siwan, Aurangabad, Arwal, districts.
According to reports reaching here, hundreds of slogan shouting Communist Party of India (CPI) workers along with supporters took out protest march in Gaya town despite prohibitory orders imposed by the district administration and they were detained by police for violation of it. Similar protest marches by Left parties were held in Siwan, Bhojpur, Jehanabad, Saharsa, Madhubani, East Champaran, West Champaran, Araria, Bhagalpur, Kaimur and Rohtas.
Protestors also blocked Gandhi Setu, the longest bridge on river Ganga in Hajipur in Vaishali, considered the lifeline connecting Patna to North Bihar. Some people staged protests by wearing sarees to dance on popular Bhojpuri songs to express their anger.
In Patna, Left parties, including Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI (M)], Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) [CPI(ML)],) staged took out marchs and blocked roads at different places, including Dak Bungalow, Kargil Chowk, Income Tax Golumber etc.
Left parties shutdown against CAA and NRC was supported by opposition Congress, Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM,) Rashtriya Janata Dal, RLSP, VIP and JAP. Dozens of workers and leaders of these opposition parties were seen protesting from roads to railway stations.
There were also reports of some protestors burning tyres on roads, staging sit ins (dharna) on roads and raising slogans against the Central government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
In view of the shutdown schools and colleges remain closed in several towns, including Patna.
CPI (M) leader Avadesh Kumar said the shutdown was a “total success”. "We got overwhelming support of people, more than expected", he added.
ADG police headquarters Jitendar Kumar said there no incident of violence was reported, adding that dozens of protestors were detained and a few arrested.
The administration had imposed Section 144 at several places in different districts prohibiting assembly of more than four persons.
More than 200 people arrested across Bihar during the protests.
Bihar's ruling JD-U voted in favour of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) in both Houses of Parliament. It is a different matter thought that party national vice-president, Prashant Kishor, had publicly opposed the party’s support to CAB.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is also president of the Janata Dal-United, an ally of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is yet to break his silence over CAA and NRC despite widespread protests against it across Bihar
In North Bihar’s Muzaffarpur, a massive procession was taken out by Left Parties, who were joined by members of several Muslim organisations, who carried the tricolor and pictures of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru and raised slogans accusing Modi government for reneging on the ideals espoused by the countrys founding fathers.
In Begusarai, a former Left bastion, which is currently the Lok Sabha constituency of Union minister Giriraj Singh, scores of women donning burqas hit the streets in protest the legislation and the proposed NRC carrying huge banners with "save the Constitution, save the country" inscribed thereon.
In Bhagalpur, a communally sensitive town known for its silk industry, bandh supporters burnt effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.