Under attack from the opposition for violence during dalit students’ march in Patna on Wednesday which left 13 persons injured, the Bihar government on Thursday blamed anti-social elements for the incident.
“The students (dalits) were misled and a crowd was gathered to start violence. Some anti-social elements too infiltrated the student group and created ruckus aimed at bringing disrepute to the state government,” SC/ST Welfare Minister Santosh Kumar Nirala said in a statement in the two houses of state legislature. Nirala, however, did not specify as to who had misled the dalit students in staging protest march. He read out the statement first in the Assembly in the post-lunch session before rushing to the upper house to make the same speech there.
The opposition members created ruckus during the SC/ST Welfare Minister’s reply in both houses and trooped into the well raising slogans against the state government for perpetrating atrocities on the dalits. Opposition MLAs also demanded judicial probe into the violence during the protest march against reduction in scholarship amount for SC and ST students. Seven policemen and six students were injured in brick-batting and police lathicharge during the march.
Former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, who hails from Mahadalit community, lamented police lathicharge on dalit students and stood in the well of the Assembly with other opposition members for nearly 20 minutes and also raised slogans against the state government. Nirala said that the state government was committed to the welfare of all sections of the society, particularly the deprived and weaker sections.
Without naming BJP, the SC/ST Welfare Minister charged the BJP leaders with conspiring to remove the quota system, and said they will not succeed in this endeavour. Interestingly, only one paragraph of the minister’s four-page reply focused on the violence during the protest march and police lathicharge on them, and most of it was used to praise the state government’s measures taken for welfare of the dalits.