Bihar assembly fracas: Nitish Kumar blackens face of democracy

Opposition MLAs say hundreds of police personnel are deployed inside the assembly with bamboo sticks in their hands and that they are afraid to enter the assembly after Tuesday’s incident

Bihar assembly fracas: Nitish Kumar blackens face of democracy

Arun Srivastava

Even a hardened JD(U) supporter will feel ashamed at what Chief Minister Nitish Kumar did on Tuesday in the Bihar assembly. It is beyond imagination how he could defend the entry of police inside the assembly precinct and thrash opposition legislators.

Opposition members squatting or sitting on dharna on the doorstep of the office of the Speaker has not been an unusual development. In such a situation, the leader of the house takes the initiative and resolves the issue. But on March 23, Nitish instead of talking to the opposition members, summoned the police to teach agitating MLAs a lesson.

The opposition was agitating against introduction of the Bihar Special Armed Police Bill, 2021, by Nitish Kumar to give the state police more teeth. The opposition claimed that the existing law was sufficient to tackle the law and order in the state. But the Nitish government claimed it was necessary in view of the increasingly complex security needs of the state. The opposition members were against insertion of a line “if the police presumes that something is wrong” it can arrest and prosecute the person. The line utterly lacked clarity.

The opposition, however, termed it a “black legislation”, taking strong exception to provisions that empower the Special Armed Police, previously known as the Bihar Military Police. The new law will empower police to apprehend people without a specific warrant issued by competent courts and will give power to conduct search without a warrant.

Some women legislators protesting introduction of the bill rushed to the podium of Speaker and prevented him from occupying his chair. By this time some male members had also rushed to the well of the house. After the Speaker Vijay Kumar Sinha, a senior BJP leader, came back to his chamber, some opposition MLAs also reached to the doorstep and started squatting there.

While the members were squatting, Patna DM Chandrashekhar Singh and SSP Upendra Kumar Sharma, followed by a huge contingent of around 100 policemen descended on the house. The police moved inside the house and started forcibly removing the members. They also removed the legislators who were sitting outside the Speaker's chamber. Kiran Devi, RJD legislator said, "The administration has beaten several opposition legislators inside the house. Male and female legislators have been beaten by the police."

After reaching the assembly, the police swung into action and started brutally assaulting the opposition members. MLAs were seen being pulled by the hair and kicked in disturbing videos circulating on social media. Tejashwi Yadav shared photos of one of his MLAs being carried on a stretcher from the assembly.

Anita Devi was one of over a dozen opposition women MLAs who were allegedly assaulted and dragged outside the premises of the assembly by policewomen. CPI (ML) MLA Mahboob Alam said hundreds of Bihar Police personnel have been deployed inside the assembly with bamboo sticks in their hands and that opposition members were afraid to enter the assembly in view of what happened on Tuesday.

“It was unprecedented as the anti-riot police force was allowed to enter the assembly, beat up opposition MLAs and physically lift them out. Two MLAs fainted and dozens received injuries during police action. Such an incident has never occurred inside the assembly before,” he added.

Some RJD MLAs and its ally CPI(M) were seen lying on the ground outside the assembly after being carried out by security personnel, apparently unconscious. They alleged later that they were "severely beaten up". Another RJD MLA appeared before the camera with his hand in a cast and declared that "members of the ruling coalition broke my arm in presence of the Chief Minister (Nitish Kumar) who chose to look away".

Under the parliamentary rules and practices, the watch and ward staff of the assembly is the competent authority to take action and maintain peace. In case the bedlam erupts the watch and ward personnel lift the members and move them out of the house. They never thrash or assault the members.

The video tape which is already viral makes it explicit that the personnel of Bihar police and even some personal security guards of the members of the ruling party and ministers assaulted the opposition members. One police officer hit an RJD MLA in his chest and abdomen with his boot.

Nitish Kumar of late is often seen losing his peace and patience. Tejashvi Yadav appears to have turned the red rag for him. Nitish loses cool the moment Tejashvi confronts him inside the house and puts some question. In the last assembly session too he was quite aggressive towards Tejashvi and even dragged the name of his father Lalu Prasad to insult him.

In protest against anti-riot police personnel and the Rapid Action Force entering the Bihar Assembly, misbehaving, beating and forcefully ejecting opposition MLAs who were opposing the passage of the Police Bill, opposition members on Wednesday refused to go inside the assembly and take part in proceedings.

Meanwhile RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav described Nitish Kumar “Nirlajj Kumar”, and said the entire opposition will boycott the state assembly for the next five years if action was not taken against police officials.

“I and all opposition members have decided to boycott the assembly if action is not taken against police officials for beating MLAs and if Nitish Kumar does not tender a public apology for it. I will never forget the abuse, misbehaviour and beating of women MLAs inside the assembly,” he added. Tejashwi also tweeted: "Nitish Kumar, if you are indeed a man, get us shot instead of getting us beaten up."

Showing solidarity Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said “It is clear from the shameful events in Bihar Assembly that the chief minister is firmly under the influence of BJP and RSS. “Those stripping democracy have no right to call themselves a government,” Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi.

(IPA Service)

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