Anti-quota bandh: Virtually no impact on ground
Curfew to continue in three districts of Madhya Pradesh; Rajasthan police ban processions; pro-Bandh and anti-reservation groups clash in Bihar’s Ara.india Updated: Apr 10, 2018 18:56 IST
A nationwide anti-quota bandh call, given largely through social media, turned out to be a damp squib on Tuesday with virtually no impact on the ground amid heavy security arrangements.
Shops remained closed in some parts of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan for a few hours and internet services were restricted in sensitive areas to check “rumour-mongering”, but normal life remained largely unaffected, officials said
The central government has sent 30 companies of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) — the country’s largest paramilitary force — to various states to maintain law and order during the Bharat Bandh called on Tuesday.
Home Ministry officials said 14 of these companies have been sent to Uttar Pradesh, eight to Rajasthan, and four each to Madhya Pradesh and Bihar to prevent any untoward incident during the bandh called in protest against the country’s reservation policy.
The bandh, which has been called by various groups protesting against caste-based reservation to Scheduled Castes/ Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST) and Other Backward Classes (OBCs), affected normal life in several parts of the country.
Over a dozen people were injured in a clash between Bandh supporters and a pro-reservation group in Ara town in Bhojpur district.Bandh supporters, mostly upper castes youths, reportedly blocked roads and forcibly enforced the shutdown.
“More than a dozen people were injured in the clash between supporters of the Bharat Bandh and a pro-reservation group comprising OBCs and Dalits,” a district police official said. There were also reports of firing between the two groups.
Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code were imposed at Ara following the clashes, a district police official said. Additional security was also deployed.
In Vaishali, Bandh supporters blocked National Highway 77. Protestors also clashed with policemen at Lalganj. In Patna, Bandh supporters reportedly forced closure of shops and blocked roads at some places. Many schools in Patna suspended classes as a precautionary measure. At Muzaffarpur, a group opposing the Bandh allegedly attacked a reporter of a local TV news channel.
Union minister Upendra Kushwaha claimed that he was attacked by “miscreants” near Hajipur while on his way to Motihari to take part in a programme to be addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Bhopal Deputy Inspector General of Police Dharmendra Dubey said social media messages are being monitored and people have been warned that those spreading hate messages would be booked under Section 188 (disobedience to order promulgated by public servant) of the Indian Penal Code. District officials have also imposed prohibitory orders in Bhopal until 6 am on Wednesday.
Madhya Pradesh bore the brunt of the April 2 violence leading to the death of eight people and injuries to scores, including 54 policemen.
Ajatshatru, Divisional Commissioner of Bhopal, said prohibitory orders under Section 144 had been clamped in the city for Tuesday, but services including schools, government offices and banks would operate as usual. Section 144 of the Indian Penal Code prohibits assembly of five or more people.
Sudhir Lad, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Chambal range, said curfew would be effective in Bhind from 9 pm on Monday to 6 pm on Tuesday to avoid any untoward incident. He said Internet services have been blocked in the Chambal region to prevent rumour mongering. Three people had died in Bhind in violence during the April 2 shutdown.
Section 144 had been imposed in Sagar district and curfew would be in place in Morena too, officials said.
Section 144 has also been imposed in Rajasthan’s Jaipur and Bharatpur, and Uttarakhand’s Nainital, reports ANI.
In Bharatpur, prohibitory orders have been imposed till April 15 and Internet services suspended till 9 am. The district administration has put a complete ban on processions and warned of “strict action” against lawbreakers.
Prohibitory orders have also been imposed in Jaipur city. Mobile internet services have been blocked for 24 hours since Monday night as a precautionary measure, an official said.
“For the last few days, police have held meetings with market associations, transport organisations, political organisations and other groups in all the districts asking them to maintain law and order,” Additional Director General of Police, Law and Order, NRK Reddy told PTI.
ANI reported that markets in Jhalawar remained shut, as protesters held a bike rally.
Rajasthan: Markets in Jhalawar shut during protests against caste-based reservations, protesters held a bike-rally. pic.twitter.com/PFSGDYKzgA— ANI (@ANI) April 10, 2018
In Firozabad, Uttar Pradesh, schools for students of classes I to IX remained closed on Tuesday, reports ANI.
Tension prevailed in Punjab’s industrial town of Phagwara as two groups came face to face during the bandh, but police intervened and defused the situation.
Better safe than sorry
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had issued an advisory to all states asking them to make necessary arrangements and issue prohibitory orders, if necessary. It had said district magistrates and superintendents of police will be personally held responsible for any violence in their areas of jurisdiction.
The missive came a week after a Bharat Bandh called by groups opposing alleged dilution of SCs/STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act by a Supreme Court order saw massive violence in different parts of the country leading to the death of about a dozen people.
(With agency inputs)