PATNA: Normal life was affected today in Bihar following widespread disruptions in rail and road traffic, forced closure of offices and vandalism of property, as part of the 'Bharat Bandh' called by Dalit and tribal organisations against dilution of the SC/ST Act.
The issue also rocked the state Assembly, which was adjourned till lunch break within minutes of commencement of proceedings.
MLAs from the opposition parties as well as some from the ruling side demanded that a resolution be passed by the House urging the Centre to take adequate measures to undo the recent Supreme Court order on arrests under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
As soon as Speaker Vijay Kumar Choudhary took the chair, deputy leader of the ruling JD(U) Shyam Rajak rose to say, "The SC/ST Act was aimed at preventing atrocities against the vulnerable sections of the society. Dilution of this Act by the Supreme Court has scared the affected communities."
Rajak suggested that a resolution be passed urging the parliament to make the Act unassailable by placing it in the 9th schedule of the constitution.
He added that the review petition filed by the Centre was just an "eyewash" and that such patchwork was not going to protect the interests of the SCs/STs.
Opposition RJD MLAs also raised an uproar on the matter in the House.
The leader of the Opposition Tejashwi Yadav said the state Assembly must stand in solidarity with the organisers of the Bharat Bandh.
"This House should pass a resolution urging the Centre to bring an ordinance that could provide an immediate relief to the affected social groups," he said.
As the bedlam erupted again, the Speaker adjourned the proceedings till 2 pm.
Meanwhile, large-scale protests were witnessed in various parts of the state as part of the Bharat Bandh.
According to police sources, the bandh supporters stormed the Patna Junction where they forced a closure of ticket booking counters and squatted on railway tracks, disrupting the movement of a number of trains.
In Bhikhna Pahari locality of Patna, students came to blows with bandh supporters when the latter forced closure of numerous coaching institutes located in the area.
Reports of rail traffic disruption also came from districts like Darbhanga, Gaya, Jehanabad, Begusarai, Bhojpur and Araria.
Long queues of vehicles, stranded on account of road blockade at various spots, were seen on national and state highways.
In Darbhanga, bandh supporters stormed the premises of a local court and indulged in vandalism.
Glass panes of a showroom were smashed by the agitators in Gopalganj.
The protests in Purnea were notable on account of the large-scale participation of women.
Bandh supporters also beat up locals in Nawada, vandalised vehicle of a Block Development Officer at Mokama in rural Patna and clashed with the police in Rohtas.
In most instances, the agitators were seen carrying blue flags bearing the names of Bhim Sena.
Some of the mainstream political parties in the state like the RJD and former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi's Hindustani Awam Morcha have also announced support to the shut-down.