Bihar bandh called on Friday by student bodies, and supported by all parties in the opposition and some in the ruling dispensation, against alleged irregularities in the Railway Recruitment Board's Non-Technical Popular Categories examination process evoked a mixed response.
Citizens woke up to chanting of slogans by bandh supporters against the RRB which has conducted a staggered, and allegedly botched up selection process, the Centre which intervened not before the crisis snowballed, and the government in the state which has booked many students and teachers for the large-scale arson and vandalism that took place in the past few days.
In Patna, bandh supporters burnt tyres on Ashok Rajpath throwing out of gear traffic on the busy street which leads to the state's largest government hospital, its most esteemed schools and colleges and shops dealing in medicines, books and stationery.
At Dak Bungalow crossing in the heart of the city, they staged a demonstration and recited impromptu verses, to the beats of tambourines, urging RRB, the Centre and Bihar government to come to their senses. They clashed with police personnel upon being stopped from marching towards the Raj Bhavan, which is a couple of kilometres away.
In Samastipur district across the Ganga, a demonstration by AISA members stood out on account of participation by a noticeable number of young women. Legislators and cadres of opposition parties, most notably the RJD and the CPI-ML, led the protests in Buxar, Jehanabad, Bhagalpur, Katihar, Begusarai and Munger.
In many places, tyres were set afire on highways, causing the traffic to come to a standstill. Former Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, who heads Hindustani Awam Morcha and minister Mukesh Sahani, founding chief of Vikassheel Insaaan Party, have also expressed "moral support" to the bandh even though they are aligned with the NDA.
JD(U) national president Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan has come out with tweets blaming the unrest on the RRB's sloppy work and demanding an early resolution of the issue by the high-powered committee set up for the purpose. He has also demanded "immediate withdrawal of the FIRs by Railways and police" at various places in connection with the violent protests which hit the headlines earlier this week.
Former deputy chief minister and veteran BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi has also come out with an impassioned plea for calm and the declamation that "Narendra Modi government will not allow any injustice".
With inputs from PTI.