Patna: Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) chief and Central minister Upendra Kushwaha was stopped, abused and roughed up near Hajipur in Vaishali during yesterday’s Bharat Bandh against reservation.
Kushwaha had cancelled his Motihari jaunt to attend the concluding function of the Champaran Satyagraha centenary at which Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the chief guest.
Kushwaha, an OBC, cancelled his programme as a precautionary measure due to violent groups roaming along the highways, and was returning to his home at Jandaha in Vaishali district, when bandh supporters stopped the vehicles in which he and his aides were travelling near Hajipur. They abused him and also tried to manhandle him.
RLSP national general secretary and spokesperson Fazal Imam Mallik said: “We condemn the use of abusive language and misbehaviour with our leader, who was stopped near Loma village in Hajipur, and demand strict action against the culprits. He could not attend the Prime Minister’s function due to the violent Bharat Bandh.”
Vaishali superintendent of police Rakesh Kumar said an FIR had been lodged at Banati police outpost in consultation with the staff of the Union minister and asserted that those responsible for the incident would be arrested. He added that the entire episode lasted around five minutes.
The Vaishali police have procured the video footage doing the rounds on social media in which Kushwaha is seen being stopped by bandh supporters. He and the policemen present with him are shown pleading with the bandh supporters.
Hooliganism, vandalism, brick-batting, arson, firing, lathicharge and sporadic violence marked the bandh called by various ‘fringe group’s, who claimed to be representatives of different forward castes demanding an end to reservation. They had spread the message of the bandh via social media.
The bandh supporters disrupted life in various places across the state, especially urban areas in Patna, Bhojpur, Muzaffarpur, Begusarai, Gaya, Chhapra, Nawada, Jehanabad, Sasaram, Sheikhpura, Vaishali, Purnea and other districts, for hours and clashed with police at several spots.
Armed with bamboo poles, sticks and guns, they burnt tyres to block major roads, stopped trains at various places and indulged in brick-batting with people from other castes and the police. They forced the markets to close down and obstructed commuters from going to offices and other workplaces.
The situation turned violent in Ara in Bhojpur when the hoodlums fired at least 24 shots in the air, triggering panic in the town. They indulged in arson and blocked the main roads in the town. The mob also attacked and injured Ara sadar sub-divisional officer (SDO) Arun Prakash and his officials while they were trying to reopen a blocked railway crossing. They vandalised his official vehicle too.
In Muzaffarpur, indiscriminate firing took place when two caste groups clashed. One person received gunshot wounds in his leg and was rushed to a local hospital for treatment. The hooligans took over the town and also vandalised a petrol pump.
Muzaffarpur district magistrate Dharmendra Kumar and senior superintendent of police Vivek Kumar, along with a heavy police force, moved into the trouble-torn localities to control the situation.
The miscreants vandalised statues of BR Ambedkar at Nawada and Sheikhpura, leading to social tension. The administration at both the places was making all efforts to check any further escalation.
Bandh supporters pelted stones at Gaya and the police had to resort to caning to tame them. Over 20 persons were arrested there.
Additional director-general (police headquarters) S.K. Singhal said: “Altogether 127 persons were arrested during the Bharat Bandh. The protesters were more active in eight districts. The police were on high alert throughout the day.”