RJD President Lalu Prasad and several of his supporters were today arrested here while trying to enforce the day-long Bihar bandh called by his party which adversely affected normal life across the state.
Patna Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Vikas Vaibhav said “Prasad was arrested along with his supporters while enforcing bandh. He was sent to the camp jail of Bihar Military Police – 5 located on the outskirts of Patna.”
Apart from Prasad, Maner MLA Bhai Virendra, Bakhtiyarpur MLA Anirudh Yadav were among those arrested. Another 92 persons were detained at different police stations.
The SSP said an FIR was registered against Prasad at Kotwali police station under sections 147 (rioting), 149 (unlawful assembly), 341 (wrongful restraint), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of duty, 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from discharge of duty), 431 (mischief by injury to public road), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace), 506 (criminal intimidation).
Vaibhav also said that 24 FIRs were registered at 22 police stations in Patna district against 566 named accused persons and other unknown, of whom 480 were arrested.
RJD spokesperson Shakti Yadav said Prasad was released on bail in the evening and returned to his 7, Circular Road residence where he held a closed door meeting with the party leaders about the future strategy in view of the caste census figures demand.
Police officials said over 1,200 people were arrested and around 600 were detained in various parts of the state while they were trying to enforce the bandh.
The bandh disrupted normal life as few trains were halted by lathi-wielding mobs, which also forced few shops and educational institutions to shut operations.
The working of the Patna High Court was also hit. Officials said several judges got delayed in reaching the High Court. They wanted to know if the state government was supporting the bandh and questioned the security preparedness of the government.
The bandh was supported by the ruling JD(U) and Samajwadi Party and their workers joined RJD in enforcing it at a few places in Patna.
Prasad had come out from his residence riding a ‘tonga’ (a single-horse drawn carriage) draped with his party colours and symbol.
He and his hundreds of supporters then proceeded towards Dak Bungalow crossing, the nerve centre of city traffic, enforcing bandh all the way.
“BJP hatao, desh bachao (Remove BJP, save the country). BJP is ‘Bharat Jalao Party’,” Prasad said claiming the bandh was a “huge success”.
“Our motive is to demand caste census data and remove BJP from power. I have never seen this type of bandh in my life except during the JP movement,” he said and called for removing Narendra Modi from the post of the prime minister.
The RJD chief denied any untoward incident by his party workers anywhere in the state and asserted “Youths have punctured BJP”.
As a result of the bandh shops remained shut, colleges and educational institutions were forced to close, roads including national highways were blocked and vehicles were attacked on the streets.
Hordes of RJD supporters armed with sticks and canes were seen burning tyres and bamboos at busy thoroughfares in the state capital. They also disrupted classes in educational institutes and forcibly closed colleges affiliated to Patna University, officials said.
East Central Railway (ECR) CPRO Arvind Kumar Rajak said there were reports about bandh supporters disturbing rail services from few places in the state, including in Darbhanga-Sitamarhi section near Kamtaul railway station.
The Patna-Ranchi Janshatabdi Express was stopped at Jehanabad station while Hatia-Islampur Express was halted near Daniyawan in Patna district.
RJD workers squatted on rail tracks in Shiekhpura and Madhepura hampering movement of trains though Prasad, while giving the call for Bihar bandh a few days ago, had asked his supporters not to disturb trains while enforcing it.
Office-goers in Patna were forcibly sent back, while vehicles plying on the roads including cars, auto-rickshaws and cycle-rickshaws were damaged and their tyres deflated.
NH 31, 83 and 110 were blocked at several places, official reports from the districts said.
Begusarai, Bhagalpur, Bhojpur, Gopalgunj, Arwal, Sheohar, East Champaran, Purnia, Katihar, Araria, Kishanganj, Gaya too felt the impact of the day-long bandh, reports said.
In the state capital, RJD leaders led by their state president Ram Chandra Purve came out of party headquarters to enforce the 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 partymen, 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 said if the figures were not released after the bandh, the party would intensify the movement.
“This is the second war of Independence for Dalits, downtrodden and the 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.