PATNA: The cavalcades of two prominent Bihar politicians, MP Pappu Yadav of Jan Adhikar Party (JAP) and the ruling JD(U)'s Shyam Rajak - were attacked allegedly by upper-caste supporters of the bandh against the SC-ST Act, which hit normal life across the state on Thursday.
Trains were halted at several railway stations and the highways were blocked for hours by supporters of the bandh, who belonged to 35-odd outfits of upper-caste communities that demand the abolition of the provision for mandatory arrests under the SC/ST Act. Shops in most parts of the state were forced to down shutters.
Chanting slogans against BJP and JD(U) - Bihar's main ruling allies - hundreds of bandh supporters also demonstrated outside the two parties' state headquarters of in Patna. Heavy deployment of police stopped the protesters from storming into the offices.
Pappu Yadav and Shyam Rajak's cavalcades were attacked by lathi-wielding supporters of the bandh in Muzaffarpur and Begusarai districts respectively. "Goons attacked my cavalcade in the name of Bharat bandh in Muzaffarpur when I was on my way to Madhubani for a road show on atrocities against women. The bandh supporters asked my party workers to say their castes and beat them up," said Pappu Yadav, who is the head of JAP.
Claiming that he would have been killed if his bodyguards were not with him, Yadav said he called the SP, IG and even the CM out of panic but no one picked up his calls. "The state and central governments are keen on pushing the nation into caste and communal violence. If an MP with Y-grade security is attacked by gun-toting people, what about the safety of ordinary citizens?" he tweeted later.
Shyam Rajak, a former minister and prominent Dalit face of JD(U), said he and the people in his cavalcade were attacked by bandh supporters in Begusarai. "They stopped my cavalcade, saying 'This is Shyam Rajak; we will kill him,' and pelted stones," Rajak told journalists.
Meanwhile, former Assembly Speaker and Dalit leader Uday Narayan Chaudhary sparked a controversy with his statements. "If people of the Bahujan Samaj hit the streets, those who are observing this bandh would run for cover. I thank the people who are observing the bandh because it makes the Bahujan Samaj people more united," he said.
"Political leaders should issue balanced statements. Democracy gives everyone the right to express their opinions. Congress believes the grievance of the upper castes should be addressed," said Congress spokesperson and MLC Premchand Mishra.