PATNA: A sick two-year-old girl being rushed to a hospital in Bihar’s Jehanabad district died on the way on Monday as no ambulance was available due to the violent protests on the roads during Bharat Bandh, which hit normal life across the state.
Gauri Kumari was declared brought dead at Jehanabad Sadar Hospital, where she was brought by her father, Pramod Manjhi, from their home at Balabigha village. The girl was suffering from severe diarrhea, and her family’s efforts to get an ambulance or any four-wheeler to take her to the hospital had failed for hours. She was finally brought to the hospital by an auto-rickshaw.
Manjhi, who was devastated by his daughter’s death, initially told local journalists that the delay in bringing the toddler to the hospital was because the auto-rickshaw was stopped by bandh supporters. He later said the auto-rickshaw was not stopped anywhere.
Jehanabad district magistrate Alok Ranjan Ghosh and SDO Paritosh Kumar denied that the girl’s death was caused due to the Bharat Bandh protests. “The baby girl’s death is not related to the bandh or a traffic jam. Her relatives had left late from their home,” said the SDO.
Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad slammed Congress and other Opposition parties over the girl’s death. “Everyone has a right to protest, but what is happening today? Petrol pumps and buses are being set ablaze, putting lives to risk. A child died after as an ambulance could not reach in time due to the protests in Bihar’s Jehanabad. Who is responsible?” he asked at a news conference.
The bandh, organised by the Opposition parties in protest against the soaring fuel prices, was accompanied by widespread arson, vandalism and disruption of rail and road traffic. Over a dozen trains were halted on the tracks by the protesters, who also blocked national and state highways by burning tyres and staging demonstrations.
Workers and leaders of RJD, Congress, HAM, JAP and the Left parties took to the streets in Patna and other towns across Bihar to enforce the bandh. Congress state chief Kaukab Quadri, senior leader Anil Kumar Sharma, RJD leaders Tejashwi Yadav and Raghuvansh Prasad Singh were among the top leaders who hit the streets with the party workers.
The bandh supporters vandalised buses, cars and two-wheelers found running on the roads. Private schools across Bihar remained closed. Government schools and offices witnessed thin attendance. Clashes with police were reported from several places. In Muzaffarpur, a man was shot at during the bandh and hospitalised.
As many as 687 people were taken into preventive custody in the state during the bandh. Bihar’s ruling JD(U) and BJP condemned the unruly behaviour displayed during the bandh, saying it reminded the people of RJD’s “15-year-long jungle raj”.