September 28, 2020

Shelter rage chokes city heart

Patna: Hundreds of supporters of the Bihar bandh called by the Left parties and supported by the Opposition parties including the RJD and the Congress on Thursday laid siege to Dakbunglow roundabout in protest against the shelter home horrors revealed by the Muzaffarpur Balika Grih case.

The blockade crippled traffic at the roads hub in the heart of the city for over an hour. Auto-rickshaw drivers had a field day charging arbitrarily from passengers who wanted to reach Gandhi Maidan. Commuters who ignored police barricades on Station Road urging them to take a detour due to the gathering of protesters were forced to make a U-turn because of the sit-in cum public meeting.

The protesters demanded dismissal of social welfare minister Manju Verma and urban development minister Suresh Kumar Sharma, and accused chief minister Nitish Kumar of inaction in crimes against women in Bihar.

The protesters, including cadres from CPI, CPM, CPI-ML, student and women organisations, also chanted slogans against Brajesh Thakur, the proprietor of Seva Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti, the NGO ran shelter home for girls in Muzaffarpur where 34 minor girls were raped at the government-funded Balika Grih. The horrific crime, the protesters alleged, is evidence women’s security has been compromised for the lust of power that has brought shame for Bihar.

The 2.5km stretch from Station Road to Gandhi Maidan remained deserted. People going towards Patna Junction from Kargil Chowk at Gandhi Maidan had to go through Chiraiyatand over-bridge to reach the station by avoiding the Dakbunglow roundabout.

“I have to catch a train for New Delhi but auto-rickshaw drivers are charging higher fares than normal saying there is a jam at Dakbunglow and will go Patna Junction by Chiraiyatand bridge,” said Vishal Kumar, who lives on .

All private schools were shut, and some shops were also shut. “The bandh remained small-scale but we closed our shops out of precaution. They will be opened after the end of the bandh in the evening,” said Rishabh Kumar, owner of a readymade garment showroom on Fraser Road.

Bus passengers were also hit as city buses remained erratic till the afternoon.

But the epicentre of the protest was the roughly hour-long demonstration at Dakbunglow.

CPM state secretary Awadhesh Kumar told the gathering: “Nitish Kumar and his ministers had close links with the main accused, Brajesh Thakur. He (Nitish) should take the moral responsibility of the (Muzaffarpur) incident and should resign from the Chief Minister’s position. He clearly wants to save his ministers whose names have cropped up.

Awadhesh later told The Telegraph: “We demand removal of the ministers whose names have been exposed and a high court-monitored probe into all shelter homes funded by the government. The Left parties’ initiative has received support from all secular parties including the RJD, HAMS, Sharad Yadav’s Loktantrik Janta Dal, and the Samajwadi Party. Protests have been organised at all block headquarters in the state”.

Nivedita Jha of the Mahila Ekta Manch said: “The Bihar government has completely lost the trust of half of our population, which is evident in the surge in crimes against women. We demand removal of ministers who name was exposed. However, the silence of chief minister Nitish Kumar says that he doesn’t want to antagonise his allies.”

Misa Bharti, daughter of RJD chief Lalu Prasad, also tweeted a photograph of Brajesh Thakur grinning in police custody, and wrote in Hindi: “The secret of this smile is that Misrule Babu read Nitish Kumar is standing with him; his laughter mocks the dignity of every girl and of every Bihari.”

Courtesy: The Telegraph

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