TWO DAYS after four persons were killed when police fired on a group protesting against land acquisition for an NTPC coal mines project in Hazaribagh district of Jharkhand, all Opposition parties in the state Monday criticised the state government’s action and took a decision to march to the Governor’s House in Ranchi on Wednesday.
They also issued a call for a Jharkhand bandh on October 24.
On Saturday, four people were killed and several others injured — among them ASP Kuldeep Kumar and Barkagaon Circle Officer Shailesh Kumar Singh, who were picked up by the mob and beaten up — after the police arrested the MLA from Barkagaon, Nirmala Devi, and were taking her to Hazaribagh. The incident took place at Dandi Kala, in Barkgaon area of Hazaribagh.
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Hazaribagh police today said they had arrested two people and detained seven in connection with the violence.
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The FIR names Nirmala Kumari, her husband Yogendra Saw, who is also a Congress leader, and 35 others, besides 100 other unidentified people.
Senior Congress leader Subodh Kant Sahay, state Congress president Sukhdeo Bhagat, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha leader Babulal Marandi and several other opposition leaders met at Bihar Club today and made the announcements.
Earlier, Bhagat also met Jharkhand Mukti Morcha’s Hemant Soren. Addressing the media separately, Soren said the government had “killed people in a planned manner”.
CPM politburo member Brinda Karat, who reached Ranchi today, said, “The BJP government in Jharkhand has conducted surgical strikes against farmers protesting land grabbing.” She added that the Left parties will organise protests against the incident across the state.
To identify those responsible, meanwhile, administration officials in Hazaribagh said they were examining video footage of the spot. “We will go by technical evidence available. No innocent person will be prosecuted. This is being monitored at the senior level,” Hazaribagh Deputy Commissioner Ravi Ranjan Shukla said.
Asked about claims of some villagers that more people were killed in Saturday’s violence and that the police were not declaring it, Shukla said, “As of now, there are four bodies. The villagers have not lodged any missing complaint. If somebody feels that a person has died in the violence, they can bring it to the administration’s notice. We will get a postmortem conducted.”
An official, meanwhile, claimed that the administration had evidence suggesting the violence was orchestrated by Nirmala Devi’s husband Yogendra Saw, a former Congress MLA and minister.
A police official said they were looking for Nirmala Devi, who is wanted in the case, and alleged that Saw’s Tiger Sena — a cadre of young men he had founded, allegedly to run an extortion racket for which he was arrested in 2014 — was behind the violence.
“There is a video showing the Circle Officer requesting the mob to let him go, but he was chased and beaten up mercilessly. The Additional SP (Operations) was also assaulted badly,” the official said.