Opposition MLAs were dragged, manhandled by policemen in the Bihar assembly and carried out on stretchers after the Speaker was virtually held hostage inside his chambers, in unprecedented chaos yesterday over legislation that gives more power to the state's police force to search people and make arrests. MLAs were even pulled by the hair and kicked, in disturbing images circulating on social media.
The trigger was the Bihar Special Armed Police Act, passed by the assembly late last evening amid protests by opposition MLAs who sat outside the assembly building and raised slogans. The Bill gives the police powers to search anyone without a warrant and take them into custody wherever they are posted.
After multiple disruptions over the Bill, the Bihar house dissolved into chaos when opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) MLAs rushed to Speaker Vijay Kumar Sinha's chair, tore papers and even laid siege to the Speaker's chambers. He was virtually held hostage inside his room by opposition legislators who surrounded it, preventing his exit.
Later, the Patna police chief brought over 100 personnel and started removing the protesting MLAs from the house. Women lawmakers who climbed the podium and tried to stop the Speaker from sitting were removed by policewomen.
A few MLAs of the RJD and its ally CPI(M) were seen on the ground outside the assembly after being carried out by security personnel, apparently unconscious. They alleged later that they were "severely beaten up".
Another RJD MLA appeared before the camera with his hand in a cast and declared that "members of the ruling coalition broke my arm in presence of the Chief Minister (Nitish Kumar) who chose to look away".
Tejashwi Yadav, Bihar's Leader of the opposition who was inside the Vidhan Sabha premises in the afternoon, tweeted: "Nitish Kumar, if you are indeed a man, get us shot instead of getting us beaten up".
Nitish Kumar, who witnessed the incidents, said: "There seem to be many new legislators who need to be trained in parliamentary behavior. Had the opposition allowed the House to run, the government would have addressed its concerns. But, that opportunity was frittered away".
Unarmed MLAs were thrashed inside the house and "manhandled by police and local goons", alleged Tejashwi Yadav. He accused the Chief Minister of allowing cops to enter the house and force MLAs out.
"My revolutionary fellow MLA, Satish Das, who belongs to a poor family, became a victim of hooliganism of Nitish Kumar. He suffered a head injury. The picture is proof," the RJD leader tweeted, sharing an image of an RJD MLA being carried out on a stretcher.
The clashes erupted as members of the opposition Grand Alliance, comprising the RJD, the Congress and the Left, protested against the Bihar Special Armed Police Bill, 2021, demanding its repeal. The assembly was adjourned five times on Tuesday.
"Draconian Act which will give absolute powers to police, so that it can act as veritable arm of Nitish's dictatorial politics, has been passed in police protection by throwing out battered MLAs using police itself," Mr Yadav tweeted.
Mr Yadav's mother Rabri Devi, a former Chief Minister, tweeted a video of a woman MLA being carried by women security personnel. "The sparks that you have set off today, these sparks will burn your black governance to ashes tomorrow. Bihar will calculate and that too, soon," she tweeted in Hindi.
Mr Yadav too was detained briefly while participating in a procession against the "black law", in addition to other issues.