Several vehicles were set ablaze in Jharkhand’s Dumka district, besides a dumper truck burned in Jamshedpur Friday during the state-wide dawn-to-dusk bandh call given by an united opposition against the passage of tenancy law amendments in the Assembly amid high drama on Wednesday. Arson apart, school and college students resorted to damaging vehicles on the Main Road in Ranchi, which forced the police to use tear-gassing and water cannon.
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In Sahibganj, some policemen were injured when they try to stop a rampaging mob looting a hatia (daily market) in Barhet Block. One policeman sustained injuries in his ear from an arrow, the police said. The police made nearly 9,000 preventive arrests during the day. Leader of Opposition Hemant Soren, JVM (P) leader Babulal Marandi and several other leaders belonging to Congress, JD (U) and other parties were taken into custody. They were released later.
The administration said that they would be taking a strict action against the perpetrators of violence. On Thursday, the Jharkhand High Court had already passed an order saying that those forcing bandh would be penalised for any violence or damage to property. In several places, including the city limits of Ranchi, the administration had imposed Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code ahead of the protest.
According to reports, nearly a dozen vehicles including trucks, buses and a couple of small vehicles were set ablaze by a mob in Mofussil police station area of Dumka district in the evening. “The miscreants targeted the vehicles when the protest timing was getting over. It occurred on the Road towards Santhal Paragana. As per our information, around half-a-dozen vehicles have been set afire. Mostly they are trucks. Dumka SP Shailendra Prasad Barnwal has reached the spot. The police have taken the situation under control and efforts are on to douse the fire,” said a police official.
In Dhamdhum village of Jamshedpur, miscreants set afire a truck in the early hours of Friday. At least six persons, allegedly involved in the incident, were arrested. Even as the police took several important leaders in their custody, a mob largely comprising school-going and college students came on the Main Road in the capital and resorted to violence. They damaged a few vehicles parked in the area, even as the market was closed.
“The situation was brought under control after some time. We have got the incident videographed. We have evidence that it was the students from the hostels of the nearby St. Xavier’s College and a few others from Loyola College indulged in violent protests. We are registering FIR under strict sections and would also be asking the school administration, as to how they were allowed to leave the hostel,” said Ranchi Deputy Commissioner Manoj Kumar. Almost all the schools in the city were closed.
While opposition leaders cried foul at the state government ‘adopting dictatorial attitude’ in going ahead with the amendment in the tenancy laws. The BJP, however, hit back saying that, instead of participating in the proceedings in the Assembly – which was in session till today – they were resorting to hooliganism on the streets. “Not finding support from the people, they are resorting to violence. They are going to anger the people even more,” said BJP state general secretary, Deepak Prakash.
Amid high drama, the government pushed ahead with amendments in the tenancy laws – Chotanagpur Tenancy Act (CNTA) and Santhal Paragana Tenancy Act (SPTA) – which allow the tribals to make commercial use of their land, something that was prohibited till now. The opposition has been saying that it would lead to the tribal getting dispossessed of their land by the corporate.