Huge Response to Jharkhand Bandh against Amendments in the Land Acquisition Act by the BJP government
Jharkhand Bandh called by the opposition parties today, against the amendments in the Land Acquisition Act (2013) brought by the BJP government of the state and against its designs to disrupt the peace in the state has invoked huge response. Schools, colleges and markets remained closed; while long distance buses and trains have been affected in many districts. Hundreds of protesters have been arrested across the state.
In Ranchi, police was at Albert Ekka Chowk, while senior officials took rounds of the city area. Protesters were taken into custody when they reached the Chowk and tried to stage a sit-in.In Khunti, the police carried out a flag march in the city limits. In Ramgarh, protesters blocked the Ranchi-Hazaribagh four-lane highway in Kujju area. In Dhanbad, protesters were taken into custody for blocking the main highway.Public transport was also hit as taxi and autorickshaw unions have supported the bandh.
BJP government had attempted every trick to make the strike a failure; however, none of that could deter the protesters. BJP spokesperson had called the strike ‘unconstitutional and illegal’ citing the Ranchi High Court’s judgment of December 3, 2003 on a PIL which had called the ‘JMM strike of August 31, 2003 illegal and unconstitutional since large scale was violence was committed’. State machinery used its full might to suppress the strike action. Two companies of the Rapid Action Force, six companies of the Reserve Armed Police and 3,100 home guards have been deployed to tackle the situation arising from the protests. Around 5000 personnel of the state have also been deployed. In many districts, including the West Singhbhum, jail camps have been set up to arrest the protesters fearing the numbers of protesters involved. State machinery is also using CCTVs and close monitoring of social media to break the strike.
This protest action has seen unprecedented unity between all the opposition forces at a juncture when the move of the state government is posing serious danger for the life and livelihood of the people. The preparatory meetings involved close co-ordination at state level, as well as the district and block levels. Appeals were made beforehand to transporters, businessmen, industries, schools and colleges to help make the bandh a grand success. Torchlight processions in the districts were taken out on Tuesday in support of the bandh. Organizational preparations were made with each party assigned specific role, so as to amplify the spontaneous energy of the bandh.
The amendments to the land acquisition Act are the main catalyst. The amendments provide for waiving-off a social impact assessment for specific projects of public interest. This would lead to big businesses easily acquiring land- at the cost of life and livelihoods of the people. However, the recent attempts by the state government to crush the Pathalgadi movement with brute force and to malign it too have played a major role in the development of this unity.
The coordination committee also discussed about Khunti gang rape vis-à-vis Pathalgadi incidents in Khunti and Chaibasa. There are ground reports which suggest that the government has ‘distorted’ the Khunti gang rape incident and is trying to link it with Pathalgadi. It has been decided that a joint delegation of the opposition led by Hemant Soren will visit Kochang village and other places in Khunti on July 7. The Jharkhand Bandh will be followed by a mammoth ‘Raj Bhawan Chalo’ on 17th July.