The state capital experienced a politically fast paced day on Sunday with the Madhubani violence in the background, which forced the cancellation of chief minister Nitish Kumar's scheduled Adhikar Yatra rallies at Ara and Buxar and another massive exercise by the police administration to set its house right.
The fear of the Monday bandh by the entire opposition phalanx played on the patience and nerves of the state administration with the top brass closeted the entire day to sort out the bandobast for the event.
The Left parties, including the CPI-ML, CPI and the CPIM, which were the first to give the call, have been joined in the Bihar bandh by the RJD, Congress, LJP and the NCP.
Even as security was put on the highest alert and direct communications were established with district administrations and politicians to tackle possible attempts at violence, sources told HT that field reports of trouble brewing in Ara and possibility of the chief minister being made a target by Left and particular sections had forced the state administration to advise caution.
This is the first time since the chief minister started out on his Adhikar Yatra some two months ago that a proposed rally has been cancelled. It put in sharp contrast the doubts within the administration on whether it could handle an emergency efficiently like the one at Khagaria or any of the past attempts at disruption, which has dogged the rallies in districts.
Intelligence sources told HT, “We have been alerted that certain Left groups could resort to violence.” They added that possibility of adherents of the late Barmeshwar Singh were a worry as were the recalcitrant teachers.
They said, “Inputs were received that anti-social elements in the guise of protesters could provoke the police to use force during the yatra should it go through, the results of which could not be predicted.”
Deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi was more specific: “We must warn people not to resort to violence. It will not be put up with. Those being misled by Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad are forewarned that the administration will not spare any excess.”
“People should desist from supporting people on motorcycles, gamchhas tied around their heads, who provoke them to violence,” he said.
Lalu Prasad hit back hours later, terming the chief minister ‘chicken hearted’. “He fears the people now and hardly has the guts to go on with the sham of a yatra. The people will give him a befitting reply,” he told reporters in Gaya.
Meanwhile, the state police administration directed all IGs, DIGs and SPs to ‘take preventive measures and identify potential trouble makers’. The deployment, the instructions said, should be more in Leftdominated districts and areas, since “they could potentially encourage disruption”, a police officer said.
A senior official in the police headquarters said, “Some leaders of Left parties could be put under preventive detention. The leaders include the ones of the CPI-ML. Superintendents of police have been asked to takeover intensive patrolling from early morning and break up groups rallying to disrupt normal life.”
The Darbhanga IG, JS Gangwar, has been specifically asked to camp and monitor the developments throughout Mithilanchal, where the administration fears that attempts will be made to disrupt peace.
DIGs of Magadh, Shahabad and Munger range have been asked to assemble force in strength to deter any attacks by the Left and targeted at communications — road and rail and guard government installations to the fullest.
DG, headquarters Ravindra Kumar said that a routine alert had been sounded to all districts. It is upto the SPs and railway SPs to counteract anti-socials, who might try to take advantage of such bandhs.
Additional forces have been deployed in all districts, where SPs had requested for additional reinforcements.
All important government installations, buildings, property and assets will be under double the normal security cover while rural areas will see heavier deployment than that in the past in order to safeguard the lifelines.
Madhubani, which suffered from two days of violence and over which the Bihar bandh has been called, seemed to be returning to normal though people were apprehensive of large-scale disruptions on Monday.
Meanwhile, the Madhubani district administration has lodged six FIRs against named and unnamed persons. Since DIG, Madhubani, Sudhanshu Kumar is on training, DIG (human rights) Ravindran Sankaran has been asked to camp there.