Patna: A BJP worker died Thursday when a protest march he was participating in allegedly turned violent after a police lathicharge.
According to senior party leaders, Vijay Kumar Singh, general secretary of the BJP in the Jehanabad district, was participating in a party protest demanding regularisation of the state’s 1.75 contractual teachers. The protest, which began at Gandhi Maidan in Patna and was to end at Vidhan Sabha, allegedly took a violent turn when the police began lathicharging protesters.
The incident, according to the BJP, occurred at Dak Bungalow Crossing.
Senior party leader and former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi told ThePrint that Vijay Kumar fainted after receiving blows to his head. He was rushed to the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH), where he died, he said.
“He was a sincere party worker. He died after suffering head injuries in the lathicharge. We had taken permission for the march from the district administration but the police used brute force,” Modi said, adding that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was “murdering democracy”.
“His death will not go in vain. The people of Bihar will give this government a befitting response,” he said.
Shekhar Thakur, the medical superintendent at PMCH, confirmed that Singh was brought to the hospital Thursday afternoon. “Our doctors tried to save him. He died 30 minutes after he was admitted to the hospital,” Thakur told ThePrint.
Bihar Police, meanwhile, denied having anything to do with the BJP worker’s death.
“The deceased was found unconscious at Chajju Bagh and taken to PMCH where he was admitted in the intensive care unit. There are no signs or marks of outside injuries on his body,” Patna Superintendent of Police Rajiv Mishra told ThePrint. Chajju Bagh is 1.1 km from Dak Bungalow, where the lathicharge allegedly occurred.
The development comes at a time when the assembly is holding its monsoon session.
More trouble for Nitish?
According to the BJP, several party leaders, among them MP Janardan Singh Sigriwal and state party president Samrat Choudhary, sustained injuries Thursday.
Several BJP leaders were also detained but released later, Leader of Opposition Vijay Kumar Sinha told ThePrint, adding that his party would hold another march to protest against the alleged violence and will apprise the governor, Rajendra Arlekar, of the developments.
Police sources said nearly 6,000 policemen were deployed for the planned protest march.
An IPS officer told ThePrint that the police had mishandled the situation. “The way they tackled the protests showed that they are untrained. They were against political workers and not criminals,” the officer, who didn’t want to be named, said. “Lathicharge should be below the waist and not on the head. But I saw the police do it above the waist.”
Thursday’s development seems to be the latest addition to a long list of problems for the Bihar government under CM Nitish Kumar. Its June decision to do away with a domicile criterion for recruiting teachers in government schools has triggered a series of protests.
In addition, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav was chargesheeted in an alleged land-for-jobs scam — which allegedly involves the acquisition of large parcels of land at throwaway prices in exchange for jobs in the Indian Railways — earlier this month.
The BJP is also accusing the government of having backpedalled on its promise of 10 lakh jobs — another reason for the protest Thursday.
(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)