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Upheaval in Bihar Assembly, From Fisticuffs to Police Arrests: Everything you need to know

Ruckus in Bihar Vidhan Sabah as ruling party passes the bill which would augment powers of the police force. Opposition calls it a dictatorial power grab by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar accusing him of ushering in “Police Raj”

Bihar assembly experienced unprecedented bedlam as police were called inside to evict ornery opposition who were trying to physically prevent the speaker from taking the chair. The commotion was over the “Special Armed Police Bill” proposed by the ruling government which would give more power to the special armed police forces. The ruling government argues that there is a need for a strong-armed police force to maintain order at a time when Bihar is experiencing an economic boom, citing the need to secure industrial units.

The bill, which was introduced last week, seeks to rename the Bihar military police to Special armed forces among other provisions. The opposition, however, termed the bill as “black law” taking strong exception to the provision which would capacitate the state armed police to conduct searches and arrests without the need for a warrant.

A “walkout” was staged by the opposition who were hunkered down outside the building clamouring slogans while the bill was passed in the assembly past the designated time.

“This law means that search will be conducted without a warrant and any policemen can arrest if they believe something is wrong. There is no use of courts and magistrates,” said RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav.

What is in the Bill?

The bill was introduced last week; it seeks to rename the Bihar Military Police to Special Armed Forces. The ruling party called the bill a crucial step in ensuring the need to safeguard important installations and industrial units, meanwhile the opposition calls it a ‘dictatorial power’ grab by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

The ruling government says that the bill is ‘the need of the hour’ to ensure stability. The proposed bill gives Superintendence of Special Armed Forces to be exercised by the government. The bill states that it is in order to protect vital infrastructure, safeguard vital installations, airports, metro rails etc in the larger interest of the state.

“The command, supervision and administration 19 of the Special Armed Police shall vest in the Director-General of Police, Bihar. The Government shall appoint to the Special Armed Police number of Inspectors General, Deputy Inspectors General, Commandants and other rank police officers, as may be notified.”

A provision of the bill gives any police officer of Special Armed Forces entrusted with the security of an establishment to arrest without warrant or order from the magistrate, whomever they deem as a threat to the establishment or the employees of the establishment.

Passing of the bill and violence in assembly

The issue started when during the session a handful of female MLA’s from RJD stymied the speaker from taking his seat meanwhile other MLA’s continued to create a ruckus throwing away the chair of Vidhan Sabha secretary and then preventing the staff from bringing in another piece of furniture.

RJD MLA was seen trying to snatch papers from BJP’s Prem Kumar who occupied the chair while speaker Vijay Kumar Sinha took some time off to recover from the shocking events of the day. At 3 pm Speaker Sinha adjourned the proceedings till 4:30 pm; the proceedings were adjourned quite a few times during the day. 

The opposition legislators surrounded the speaker’s chamber blocking all exits preventing him from leaving and essentially keeping him hostage inside.

The police was called in to aid the marshals who were having a hard time containing the legislators who outnumbered the marshals while laying siege to the speaker’s chambers. With the help of the police, marshals were able to evict the legislators.

The protestors clashed with the police near the Dak Bungalow crossing, The police was preventing the protestors from marching to the assembly. During the clash, vehicles were vandalized and some journalists present at the scene suffered injuries.

A few MLA’s of RJD and CPI(M) fell unconscious outside Vidhan Sabha where they were escorted by the police, these MLA’s later alleged they were beaten by the police.

“Nitish Kumar, if you are indeed a man, get us shot instead of getting us beaten up”, tweeted Tejashwi Yadav following the events.

The Bill was passed in the Vidhan Sabah in the evening well past the designated time as the opposition continued to protest outside the building shouting slogans.

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