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SC/ST protests: Normal life hit in Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha

Press Trust of India  |  Patna/Ranchi/Bhubaneswar 

Normal life was affected in Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha today due to disruptions in rail and road traffic, forced closure of offices and vandalism of properties during the "Bharat Bandh" called by Dalit and tribal organisations against the alleged dilution of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

Large-scale protests were witnessed in various parts of Bihar.

According to the police, the bandh supporters stormed the Patna Junction railway station, forcibly closed the ticket counters and squatted on railway tracks, disrupting the movement of a number of trains.

At the Bhikhna Pahari locality in Patna, students came to blows with the bandh supporters, who forced the closure of numerous coaching institutes in the area.

Reports of rail traffic disruption also came from districts such as Darbhanga, Gaya, Jehanabad, Begusarai, Bhojpur and Araria.

Long queues of vehicles, stranded on account of road blockades at various spots, were seen on the national and state highways.

In Darbhanga, the bandh supporters stormed the premises of a court and indulged in vandalism of properties. The glass panes of a showroom were smashed by the agitators at Gopalganj.

The protests in Purnea were notable on account of large-scale participation of women.

The bandh supporters allegedly beat up the locals in Nawada, damamged the vehicle of a block development officer at Mokama in rural Patna and clashed with the police in Rohtas.

At most of the places, the agitators were seen carrying blue flags bearing the name of Bhim Sena. Some of the mainstream political parties in Bihar such as the RJD and former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi's Hindustani Awam Morcha have announced support to the shutdown.

The issue also rocked the state Assembly, which was adjourned till lunch break within minutes of commencement of proceedings.

MLAs from the opposition parties as well as some from the ruling side demanded that a resolution be passed in the House, urging the Centre to take adequate measures to undo the recent Supreme Court order on arrests under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

A report from Jharkhand, quoting the police, said a loaded truck was set ablaze by the agitators in the Palasboni area, on the outskirts of Jamshedpur.

Most of the shops downed shutters after the agitators took to the streets to enforce the bandh in the tribal-dominated state.

A total of 652 protesters were rounded up from various parts of Jamshedpur, Deputy Superintendent of Police (CCR) Sudhir Kumar said.

In Palamu district, around 200 bandh supporters were taken into custody for disturbing peace.

"The bandh supporters were taken into custody as they were forcibly trying to down the shutters of shops," Palamu Deputy Superintendent of Police Prem Nath said.

Barring sporadic incidents, no case of violence was reported from the area, Palamu Range Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police Vipul Shukla said.

In Dumka and Pakur districts too, the police detained a large number of protesters when they were trying to enforce the bandh at public places and market areas, Dumka Town police station in-charge Devbrat Poddar said.

Train services, however, remained unaffected by the bandh in the Tatanagar section of Chakradharpur division, sources in the railways said.

In Odisha, vehicular movement was affected in several areas, including Jharsuguda, Sundargarh, Malkangiri, Sambalpur and other tribal-dominated districts, the police said.

Buses also remained off the roads at Biramitrapur, Malkangiri, Kalahandi and Bolangir.

Shops and business establishments remained shut in several areas of tribal-dominated Malkangiri, Kalahandi, Sundargarh and Bolangir districts, the police added.

Activists of the Adivasi Dalit Sena staged a rail roko at the Khetrajpur station in Sambalpur, which delayed some trains, they said.

The Adhikar Surakhya Manch, the Adivasi Mulabasi Bancaho Manch and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) extended support to the bandh.

At Bhubaneswar, activists of different Dalit organisations put up road blockades near the Vani Vihar, Jayadev Vihar and Acharya Vihar areas.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Mon, April 02 2018. 17:40 IST
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