Patna: Normal life was disrupted in Bihar on Monday as shops, educational institutions and some trains were forced to stop functioning as lathi-wielding mobs took to the streets over the day-long state bandh called by Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).
Officials said shops remained shut, colleges and educational institutions were forced to close down, roads including national highways were blocked and vehicles were attacked during the shut-down called by RJD. Hordes of RJD supporters armed with sticks and canes were seen burning tyres and bamboos at busiest thoroughfares in the state capital.
The supporters also disrupted classes and forcibly closed colleges affiliated to Patna University, officials said. East Central Railway (ECR) CPRO Arvind Kumar Rajak said, "Reports are coming about disturbance in rail services by bandh supporters at many places in the state."
The Patna-Ranchi Janshatabdi Express was stopped at Jehanabad station while Hatia-Islampur Express was halted near Daniyawan in Patna district, he said. Rajak added that reports have also come about disruption of railway services near Kamtaul railway station in Darbhanga district even as RJD workers squatted on rail tracks in Shiekhpura and Madhepura hampering movement of trains.
The RJD gave the call to press for its demand for quick release of caste census data by the Centre. Though RJD chief Lalu Prasad, while giving the call for Bihar bandh a few days ago, had asked his supporters not to disturb trains while enforcing it, his plea apparently fell on deaf ears.
The bandh has been supported by the ruling JD(U) and Samajwadi Party (SP) as their workers too joined in enforcing it at a few places in the state capital. Office-goers in Patna were forcibly turned away and those who tried to proceed ahead suffered the ire of the bandh enforcers.
Vehicles including cars, auto-rickshaws, cycle-rickshaws plying on the roads were damaged and their tyres were deflated. The car of one Mukesh Kumar Singh, a Disaster Management Department (DMD) official was damaged by some men while he was rushing to his office.
Elsewhere in the districts, National Highways 31, 83 and 110 were blocked at several places, official reports from districts said. Begusarai, Bhagalpur, Bhojpur, Gopalgunj, Arwal, Sheohar, East Champaran, Purnia, Katihar, Araria, Kishangaj, Gaya bore the brunt of the day-long bandh, reports said. RJD MLAs, MLCs and former ministers led party workers to enforce the bandh.
In the state capital, RJD leaders led by their state president Ram Chandra Purve came out of party headquarters to enforce bandh. Carrying flags with RJD symbols and banners demanding release of caste census figures, they raised slogans against the Narendra Modi government at the Centre.
While marching with party men, Purve said, "Bihar bandh is total. There is massive response to our demand for release of caste census and the public has supported it across state." He threatened that if the figures were not released even after this, they will intensify the movement.
"This is the second war of Independence for Dalits, downtrodden and poor," he said. Purve denied any involvement of RJD workers in hooliganism on roads during the bandh and alleged that it could be the handiwork of BJP workers to show RJD in poor light.