Normal life was hit in various parts of Bihar on Thursday and train services were briefly affected in the state capital and Rajgir town on account of a ‘Bharat Bandh’ call given by some groups against the recent amendments in the SC/ST Act.
The bandh supporters, owing allegiance to several nondescript organisations, staged a demonstration in front of the BJP state headquarters at Birchand Patel Marg raising slogans against the “betrayal by the very party we have been voting for” The gate of the premises remained locked from inside.
Some of them also headed towards the office of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), a BJP ally, just a few hundred metres away on the same road, but here also they the gates were closed.
The bandh supporters thereafter headed back to the Dak-Bungalow crossing, which they had crossed an hour ago. Many of the protestors were taken into custody by the police there.
Earlier, the bandh supporters stormed the Rajendra Nagar Railway Terminus in the state capital and disrupted the movement of trains for about half-an-hour, officials said.
Bandh supporters also took out processions in the Ashok Rajpath area where Patna University and colleges affiliated to it are located.
Shops and commercial establishments largely remained closed in most parts of the state capital, but banks and government offices functioned normally.
Many private schools, though, declared a holiday in view of the difficulties students and teachers were likely to face while travelling.
The shutdown had a strong impact in Muzaffarpur, where bandh supporters blocked various points inside the town, besides the national highways running along. They also burnt tyres at many places and clashed with the police personnel who tried to stop them from causing inconvenience to the general public.
A large number of bandh supporters blocked traffic on the Gaya-Bodh Gaya and Gaya-Rajgir roads.
In Nalanda district, the movement of trains was disrupted on account of a demonstration staged inside the Rajgir railway station, the official said. Arson was reported in many parts of the Biharsharif town.
The bandh had its impact in Begusarai as well where traffic was disrupted on national and state highways. The markets remained closed in urban as well as rural areas and people, largely, chose to stay indoors.
In Jehanabad, the bandh supporters stopped trucks on the Arwal More and deflated tyres, causing a massive traffic jam on NH83 and NH110.
Bandh-related disturbances were reported from various parts of Bhagalpur, Nawada, Bhojpur and Sheohar districts as well.
Earlier this year, the apex court had removed the strict provision of mandatory arrests under the SC/ST Act. This decision had triggered nationwide protests by Scheduled Castes organisations, forcing the Centre to bring an amendment to the Act during the Monsoon Session to overrule the SC order.
The upper caste organisations are staging protests against the amendments to the Act.