Opposition fails to stop passage of land amendment bill in Jharkhand

Ranchi, Nov 23 (IANS) The Jharkhand assembly on Wednesday passed without discussion an amending bill to two land Acts which were formulated to protect the rights of the tribal and indigenous people.

Land and Revenue Minister Amar Bawri tabled the amendment bill in the house around 2 p.m. amid uproar by the opposition members.

The passing of the amendment comes despite reported assurance on the issue by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and stiff protests by the opposition in the state.

A total of eight bills, including on the amendment to the Chotanagur Tenancy Act and the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act, were tabled even as the opposition shouted slogans. All eight bills were passed without discussion within a few minutes by voice vote.

Bharatiya Janata Party sources said the amendment bill was tabled and passed in a hurry to avoid embarrassment as the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s alliance partner, the All Jharkhand Students Union, and even some ruling party leaders could have spoken against it.

Several amendments have been made in different sections of both the Acts, which were formulated during the British rule to protect the land rights of the tribal and ‘moolwasis’ or indigenous people.

After these amendments, agricultural land can now be used for non-agricultural purpose.

Earlier, the AJSU had reminded Prime Minister Narendra Modi that while addressing an assembly election rally in Dumka in December 2014, he had assured that no amendment will be made in the land laws.

Modi had reiterated his stand while speaking at a programme of the tribal people in New Delhi last month.

Chief Minister Raghubar Das was adamant on amending the land laws, which was opposed by majority of tribal legislators.

“Injustice has been done to the tribals. Their land will be acquired and tribal people will become alien in their own state,” senior Jharkhand Mukti Morcha leader and legislator Stephen Marandi said.

Opposing the amendment bill, AJSU legislator Vikas Munda said they will move the courts on the issue which, he said, was not in favour of the tribals.

Former Chief Minister and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik President Babulal Marandi said the amendments have been brought to help industrial houses. “This will not help the tribal people.”

Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das has justified the amendment and said it will help the tribal people.

–IANS

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