Two pro-reservation leaders in Bihar on Thursday bore the brunt of the ‘Bharat Bandh’ that was called to protest against the recent amendments in the SC/ST Act.
Shyam Rajak, former state minister and deputy leader of the ruling JD(U) in the assembly, was attacked in Begusarai district while Madhepura MP and Jan Adhikar Party (JAP) founder Pappu Yadav faced the wrath of bandh supporters in Muzaffarpur.
The bandh call given by some upper-caste groups affected the normal life in various parts of the state and train services were briefly affected in Patna, Rajgir town and many other areas.
In a statement, Mr Rajak said he had lodged a police complaint, describing the attack as not on him, but on democracy. Explaining the incident, Rajak said, “I am on a study tour of different districts of Bihar in my capacity as the chairperson of SC/ST Welfare Committee of the Vidhan Sabha. I was on my way to Khagaria and passing through a village in Begusarai where about 30 bandh supporters came in front of my car and said: ‘Here is Shyam Rajak. Thrash him’.
“They hurled bricks and stones at my vehicle, which got badly damaged and its glass panes were smashed. I myself got hit on my head and my driver and bodyguard also sustained injuries,” he said, adding that the escort party had to fire a couple of rounds to disperse the mob.
Mr Yadav, meanwhile, was on his way to Madhubani, where he was to take part in a ‘padayatra’ organised on women’s safety, when he met with a traffic blockade near Khabra in Muzaffarpur district.
Narrating the incident, the JAP leader broke down and said, “I kept pleading that I have never done caste-based politics, but they did not listen. I would have been killed, but for the CPRF jawans who were accompanying me”.
Mr Yadav, who later left for Madhubani, also alleged that the assailants chased their car for some distance, waving pistols in the air. “I frantically dialled the numbers of the Muzaffarpur SSP and the IG of the concerned zone but nobody picked up the phone. I then called up a close aide of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who said he would convey my message to the CM”.
“I had been receiving threats ever since I raised the issue of Muzaffarpur shelter-home sex scandal on the floor of the Parliament. I suspect the attackers included goons close to Brajesh Thakur, the prime accused,” Mr Yadav added.
The bandh supporters — owing allegiance to several nondescript organisations — staged a demonstration in front of the BJP state headquarters in Patna, raising slogans against the “betrayal by the very party we have been voting for”. Some of them also headed towards the office the JD(U), just a few hundred metres away. Many of the protesters were detained.