In a 12-hour bandh call by a united opposition across Jharkhand on Monday, around 5,500 activists and more than a dozen leaders from different political parties were taken into preventive custody. The bandh was called against the deaths in firing incidents and proposed changes to Chotanagpur Tenancy Act (CNTA) and Santhal Paragana Tenancy Act (SPTA). JMM had given moral support to the bandh call. The day passed off peacefully, but private schools remaining largely closed. Long distance road transport was also affected in several parts.
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The opposition parties claimed that the bandh was hugely successful and people themselves were in support. However, the BJP claimed that the bandh call was a flop and people have rejected negative politics. According to the police, till 5 pm the total number of people taken into preventive custody was 5,442. Further, leaders like Subodh Kant Sahay, Babulal Marandi, Geeta Shri Oraon, Irfan Ansari, Manoj Yadav, Bandhu Tirkey and a few others were taken into custody in their respective areas when they tried to stage a blockage with their supporters.
In Ranchi, most of the private schools and colleges had suspended classes in the wake of the bandh call. At some places, like Hazaribagh and Dhanbad, protesters tried to block the National Highway, which were cleared after the police arrested them. The bandh call did not evoke much of a response in districts like Dumka, Sahibganj and Pakur in the Santhal Paragna region, and in Simdega, Chaibasa districts in the Chhotnagpur region.
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BJP Vice-president, Deepak Prakash, said, “The shops remained by and large open and people moved around freely. This is a silent negation by the people of the state against negative politics of the opposition, which always seeks to exploit emotive issues for their benefit.” Prakash added that the state was well on the path of development and innocent people were being misled by the opposition to create situations where they lose their lives.
Marandi and Sahay, who were taken to make-shift Morabadi camp jail in the city, attacked the government for being dictatorial. “The government is resorting to police firing. This shows the dictatorial attitude of this government. Entire Jharkhand has decided to observe bandh in our support,” said Marandi. Sahay added that, in so far as land acquisition was concerned, the government was hell bent on snatching the people’s land even though it had the 2013 Land Acquisition Act as a guideline to be followed.
JMM general secretary, Supriyo Bhattacharya, said, “The bandh call, which was observed by people on their own, shows the anger against the repressive measures of the state government. The JMM would take a decisive step in taking the agitation to a new level on November 15. We will start from Jamshedpur and take it across the state.”