Former Congress MLA and Minister, Yogendra Saw, wanted in connection with the violence on October 1, in which four persons were killed in Barkagaon area of the district, was Tuesday arrested by the police. The incident had occurred when the police were taking away Congress MLA Nirmala Devi after arresting her from site of protest against coal mining project of NTPC in Chirudih village under Barkagaon police station area. The police opened fire after Nirmala Devi was freed by a mob in Dadi Kala village and an Additional SP and the Circle Officer were abducted and assaulted by the mob.
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According to the police, Saw was arrested from his residence in Hurhuri village. The police had named him as an accused in the FIR registered in connection with the violence that took place on Dandi Kala village in Barkagaon police station area. However, the police said that his wife, Nirmala Devi, Congress MLA from Barkagaon, is still missing.
“Saw was arrested. He is accused of conspiring to orchestrate the violence that led to firing and deaths. It is true that, on the day of the violence, Saw was not present on the spot. Further efforts are being made to trace the MLA,” said DIG Hazaribagh Upendra Prasad.
The police have already accused Saw of motivating his group, called Tiger Force, who were involved in the violence that occurred on Saturday 1. Prior to his arrest, Saw had claimed that he was being framed. He had told this newspaper that his name was in the previous two FIRs, registered on complaint from the NTPC, of September 29 and 30, even though he was undergoing medical treatment at Medica in Ranchi.
Prasad, however, said that they had evidence clearly indicating his involvement in the conspiracy to orchestrate violence.
In May, the district administration had externed Saw from Hazaribagh on the allegations that he causing disruption of peace in Barkagaon area in the name of protesting against the NTPC’s coal mining project. However, Saw approached the Jharkhand High Court against the order of the Deputy Commissioner, as well as that of the Divisional Commissioner, through which he was externed.
On August 26, the High Court quashed the externment proceedings against Saw. Since then, said administration officials, Saw had again begun mobilising youngsters and others in the name of agitation. Administration officials accused Saw of using the agitation to further his economic interests. Earlier, on Monday, the police carried out a door-to-door search in Dadi Kala and nearby areas looking for suspects involved in the October 1 violence. The police move has left residents of Dadi Kala and others around it terrorised.
“Last night, the police used force to beat up anybody they could lay their hands. They got opened every house. We are scared. In fact, all the youths and even elderly have left this village. Some of them have even gone away with their cattle,” alleged Darshan Kumar Das of Sonbarsa village. Two of the four victims were from this village, which is very close to Dandi Kala, where the violence occurred.
Meanwhile, opposition leader Hemant Soren reached Barkagaon to meet the victims’ families. However, the administration did not allow him to go beyond the Block office. He met the affected people there and demanded action against the culprits.