Six left parties, includingCPI (ML), CPI, CPM, Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist), had givena call for a day-long protest against the Nitish Kumar-led Bihar government, leading to the shut-down of the state– Bihar Bandh.
The impact of the bandh was witnessed statewide, as alongside political parties, trade unions, the youth and the women marched across the state, and demanded CM Kumar’s resignation.
The protest call was given in the wake of the reports of sexual exploitation in shelter homes in Bihar. A report released last week has alleged that 34 girls out of 4 – from a shelter home in Muzaffarpur – were subjected to sexual abuse.
The Bihar government has handed over the investigation in the case to the CBI last week. Initially, 11 people were arrested in connection with the case after the complaint was filed on March 31.
With anger mounting against the government, shops, private offices remained shut. According to the reports, the Koilwar Bridge which connects Patna to Arrah was blocked by the CPI(ML) workers. Rallies were also conducted in Sivan and Nivada district. Workers resorted to anti-Nitish sloganeering demanding answers from the state government.
The impact of the protest call led to the halting of train services on the Sheikhpura, Darbhanga and the Jehanabad lines.
The collective call was supported by the Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Hindustani Awam Morcha as well.
The immense anger was triggered by CM’s silence, as the opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav said that he wants to compel the CM to respond.
Speaking to Newsclick, Awadhesh Kumar, the state secretary of CPI (M), said, “The strike is historic as the issues raised in the call for protest have resonated with the people in the state. Visible anger could be seen in people after the government seems unaffected with prolonged sexual exploitation of young girls.”
He added that the government simply can't brush off the responsibility of the crime by handing over the investigation to the CBI; it hasn’t even expelled the state minister Manju Sharma under whose watch the crimes were taking place. He demanded that Nitish Kumar must take moral responsibility and resign.
The initial report of the abuse in the shelter house was given to the state government in April, which did not provide a prompt response. Shockingly, state Social Welfare Department sanctioned another project to Seva Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti on the same day police lodged an FIR against the NGO.