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Bihar police Bill passed amid protests in House, outside

The bill, which was introduced last week, seeks to rename the Bihar Military Police, give it more teeth and allegedly empowers the force to arrest people without a warrant.

Written by Santosh Singh | Patna |
Updated: March 24, 2021 11:13:22 am
Bihar news, Bihar police, Bihar police bill protest, Patna protest, Patna latest news, RJD Patna Protest, Tejashvi Yadav protest Patna, indian express newsPatna: Police baton charge on Rashtriya Janata Dal supporters during their Vidhan Sabha protest march over issues of unemployment, inflation, law and order and farm laws, in Patna, Tuesday, March 23, 2021. (PTI)

Amid Uproarious scenes in the Assembly and heated protests outside by the Opposition against what it termed a “draconian” law, Bihar Special Armed Police Bill, 2021 was passed in the State Assembly Tuesday and will now be tabled in the Legislative Council.

As RJD legislators staged loud protests in the Assembly, even preventing the Speaker from entering the House at one point, Leader of Opposition and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, his brother and former minister Tej Pratap Yadav, and over 50 Opposition leaders, staged a protest at the busy Dak Bungalow crossing in Patna. The leaders later courted arrest after the police used water cannons to bring the situation under control.

The Bill seeks to convert the existing Bihar Military Police (BMO) into a special armed force that can be deployed to secure industrial units on the lines of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF). Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who holds the Home portfolio, has said that “a special trained force” is needed “in order to strengthen internal security”.

Patna: Security personnel remove a Grand alliance legislator who was staging a dharna outside Speaker Vijay Kumar Singh’s chamber during Budget Session of Bihar assembly, in Patna, Tuesday, March 23, 2021. (PTI)

A government official told The Indian Express: “Bihar is surrounded by Nepal and three states — UP, West Bengal and Jharkhand — and also has several Naxal-infested areas, which is why the state needed such a force.” He said some other states have raised similar forces, patterned on the CISF.

But the Opposition pointed to the contentious Section 7 in the Bill that empowers the newly constituted force to arrest any person and search anyone’s premises without a warrant, on the basis of suspicion. According to the rules so far, only the district police have the powers to conduct arrests.

Tejashwi Yadav said: “A careful reading of the proposed Bill and opinion of legal experts show the Bill can forfeit courts’ authority to take cognizance of complainants arrested by the proposed special armed police force. The Bill seeks to change the name of Bihar Military Police (BMP), which has 21 batallions, to Bihar Special Armed Police (BSAP).”

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

On Tuesday, there was uproar inside the Assembly with the Opposition raising slogans against Speaker Vijay Kumar Sinha and the NDA government, forcing the Speaker to adjourn the House. Later, some Opposition legislators prevented the Speaker from reaching the Assembly to resume the session. This led to the Patna administration sending additional forces to the House to bring the situation under control.

Former Bihar minister and JD(U) spokesperson and MLC Neeraj Kumar said: “There has been unnecessary row over the Bill. A specialised police force would only lessen our dependence on central forces.”

Tejashwi took to Twitter later saying: “MLAs were beaten up in the House. Unemployed youths were beaten up on the streets . After becoming a third grade leader of a third grade party, Nitish Kumar has become a victim of mental bankruptcy.”

Speaking to The Indian Express, a former Bihar DGP, however, said that although the police already have powers to conduct preventive arrests, the penal provisions under the proposed legislation need to be reviewed.

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