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Bihar: Nearly Dozen Gram Raksha Dal Members Injured in Lathi-Charge During Protest at BJP Office

The rural security force members have been protesting for years to demand a daily allowance, among others.
The rural security force members have been protesting for years to demand a daily allowance, among others.

File Image 

Patna: Nearly a dozen Gram Raksha Dal members were injured outside the main gate of ruling Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) state headquarters in Patna on Friday when police baton-charged during a protest to demand daily allowance, honorarium and job regularisation. Hundreds of protesting Gram Raksha Dal members were forced to end their dharna.

With posters and banners in their hands, the Gram Raksha Dal members, also known as ‘Police Mitra’ in rural areas, were shouting slogans against National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar outside the main gate of the sprawling BJP headquarters on Veerchand Patel Marg in the heart of Patna. They have been protesting since Friday morning, demanding that the newly formed NDA government fulfil their old demands.

Irked BJP leaders informed the nearby Kotwali police station, which led to use of force to disperse them and end their dharna.

"We were peacefully staging a dharna outside the BJP office seeking fulfilment of our demands. The police baton-charged us and threatened to arrest us if we did not end our dharna. They forced us to end our protest", Sikandar Paswan, a leader of the protesting Gram Raksha Dal members, told NewsClick.

Paswan said the police action was not only against their fundamental rights but was another example of police being used to suppress the voice for justice.

After the police action, the Gram Raksha Dal members shifted to Gardanibagh, a protest site in Patna, not far away from the Assembly and State Secretariat.

"Hundreds of slogan-shouting Gram Raksha Dal members have gathered here from across the state and have decided to continue their protest till the government invites us for talks. Our protest is to draw the attention of the government during the ongoing budget session of the Bihar Assembly,’ said Paswan.

Suresh Yadav, one of the protesters who sustained injuries in his left hand and leg, told NewsClick that they were shocked when police suddenly attacked them.

"We were chanting slogans to invite two Bihar Deputy Chief Ministers, Samrat Choudhary and Vijay Kumar Sinha, both senior BJP leaders, to hear our demands. But the police baton- charged us".

The police action against Gram Raksha Dal members was raised by Opposition Left parties on Friday in the Assembly.

The Gram Raksha Dal is a semi-government body and has nearly 20,000 members, most of whom are engaged in safety and security work at the panchayat level in rural areas.

The members have been staging protests in support of their demands for several years now. They staged protests last year (2023), in 2022, 2021 and 2020. In 2018, Gram Raksha Dal members had staged a 154-day dharna in Patna in support of their 11-point demands.

Paswan said the state government had been ignoring their genuine demands and treating them like nobodies. But the fact is that Gram Raksha Dal members are part of the rural security system. They ensure peace in villages and minimise law and order pressure on the regular police force.

"We play an important role in rural policing but the government provides us with little. We are fighting for survival and want a decent daily wage and other facilities,” added Paswan.

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