Opposition-called shutdown in Jharkhand gets good response

Ranchi, Oct 24 (IANS) Schools, colleges and shops remained shut across Jharkhand on Monday in response to the Opposition’s call to protest recent police firings and amendments to land laws brought by the BJP-led Raghubar Das government.

Heavy security deployments were made in Ranchi and various parts of the state in view of the call for a 12-hour shutdown. Opposition leaders and supporters of the strike call were detained immediately as they came out on streets.

The police firings took place in Khunti and Hazaribagh.

The dawn-to-dusk shutdown saw schools, colleges, educational institutions, business establishments and shops in Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Hazaribagh, Bokaro, Dhanbad and other districts bring down shutters. More than 2,000 workers of the united Opposition were detained across the state.

Buses on long routes stopped plying. Vehicular movement was minimum in the first half of the shutdown.

The protesters at many places tried to disrupt the movement of traffic along the Ranchi-Patna highway and other national and state highways.

In Ranchi, former Chief Minister and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) President Babulal Marandi, former central Minister and Congress leader Subodh Kant Sahay and others were detained.

“The entire state of Jharkhand supported the shutdown unanimously. Police firings show the dictatorial attitude of Chief Minister Raghubar Das,” Sahay told reporters.

“We repeat our demand of judicial probe of all the three police firings. They can acquire land by following the 2013 Land Acquisition Act, but this Raghubar Das government is trying to acquire land forcefully,” Sahay said.

“The state government is taking lives and land of its people. So people are now out on streets to protest the policies of this government,” said Marandi.

The shutdown was jointly called by the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik), the Congress and Rashtriya Janata Dal, and is being supported by the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and the Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India-Marxist.

The parties are opposing the amendments the state government has initiated through ordinance to the Chhota Nagpur Tenancy Act (CNT) and the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act (SPT).

They are also voicing anger over the three incidents of police firing, including at Barkagaon of Hazaribagh district.

The shutdown is taking place two days after the latest round of police firing in Khunti district on Saturday, in which one tribal was killed. Four villagers were also killed in the October 1, police firing at Barkagaon of Hazaribagh district.

The Barkagaon villagers have been protesting the NTPC coal block mining in their area. They allege that the land was being acquired forcibly and proper compensation was not being given.

The state government has made elaborate security arrangements to ward off any unpleasant incident during the shutdown.