Bihar Police Bill Passed Amidst Unprecedented Chaos in Assembly, Protests in Patna

Opposition MLAs have alleged that they were injured by police personnel who had been called into the assembly to manage the chaos.

Patna: Unprecedented chaos erupted inside the Bihar assembly on Tuesday when police was called inside to assist the marshals in evicting opposition members who tried to physically prevent the Speaker from taking his Chair.

The bone of contention was Bihar Special Armed Police Bill, 2021, which the Nitish Kumar government introduced in a bid to give its police more teeth, citing that this was necessary for “increasingly complex security needs of the state” which has been witnessing rapid economic growth.

The opposition called it a “black” legislation, taking strong exception to provisions that empower the Special Armed Police, previously known as the Bihar Military Police, to conduct searches and arrests without producing a warrant.

The Bill was, nonetheless, passed by the assembly late in the evening, well past the stipulated time, amid a “walkout” by opposition MLAs who squatted outside the building and raised slogans, slighted by the manner in which they were ousted from the hall by men in uniform.

First, the Speaker was thwarted from taking his seat by a women legislators of the RJD who had climbed on to the podium. Other MLAs created a ruckus in the well, threw away the chair of the Vidhan Sabha secretary and prevented staff from bringing in another piece of furniture.

Tempers flared in the treasury benches as well. Cabinet minister Ashok Choudhary was seen getting physical with an RJD MLA who tried to snatch away papers from BJP’s Prem Kumar, who occupied the chair while Speaker Vijay Kumar Sinha took his time to recover.

RJD legislators stage a dharna outside Speaker Vijay Kumar Singh’s chamber during Budget Session of Bihar assembly, in Patna, Tuesday, March 23, 2021. Photo: PTI

‘Held hostage’

Sinha had, at around 3 pm, adjourned proceedings till 4.30 pm, for the umpteenth time during the day.

He was held hostage inside his chamber by opposition legislators who surrounded it from all sides, preventing his exit.

Led by Tejashwi Yadav earlier in the day, the RJD had taken out a rally in protest against the bill and rising unemployment. Many protesters, journalists and police officials were injured as it turned violent. Police lathicharged and used water cannon while protesters allegedly pelted stones, upon being prevented from marching to the assembly.

At the Vidhan Sabha premises in the afternoon, police personnel were roped in to help marshals who were far outnumbered by legislators laying siege to the Speakers’ chamber.

A few MLAs of the RJD and its ally CPI(M) fell unconscious outside the Vidhan Sabha premises where they were left by the security personnel. Later, they alleged that they were severely beaten up.

Another RJD MLA appeared before the camera with his hand wrapped in plaster and said, “Members of the ruling coalition broke my arm in presence of the Chief Minister who chose to look away”.

Disturbing images of some legislators being pulled by the hair and kicked and male police personnel dragging a female MLA have also gone viral on the social media.

Tejashwi Yadav, who was inside the Vidhan Sabha premises in the afternoon, having spent the first half leading the procession and courting arrest, tweeted angrily “Nitish Kumar, if you are indeed a man, get us shot instead of getting us beaten up”.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said, “There seem to be many new legislators who need to be trained in parliamentary behaviour. Had the opposition allowed the House to run, the government would have addressed its concerns. But, that opportunity was frittered away.”

The Speaker said before winding up, “Many unfortunate things have happened. This cannot be allowed to recur. Action will be taken against those members who might have indulged in vandalism on the floor of the House”.