More than 9,000 people, including some opposition MLAs and an MP, were on Saturday taken into preventive detention during a statewide bandh called by the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and supported by the Congress, the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) and some social organisations. At least two minor incidents of violence were reported, police said.
The bandh was called in protest against the state’s domicile policy, cleared by the Jharkhand Cabinet in April. As per the domicile policy, anybody who has lived in Jharkhand for 30 or more years for business, employment or any other reason and has immovable property will be considered a resident of the state.
The JMM is demanding that a 1932 survey be made the cut-off mark for the eligibility of being a resident. The RJD, CPI and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) supported the bandh called by the JMM.
Godda and Panki, where bypolls will be held on May 16, were left out of the bandh call.
Jharkhand police spokesperson and Additional Director General of Police (Operations) S N Pradhan said, “More than 9,000 people had been detained till late afternoon across the state. The situation remained by and large peaceful.”
Vijay Kumar Hansda, JMM MP from Raj Mahal, and MLAs Ravindra Nath Mahato, Stephen Marandi, Shashibhushan Samad, Anil Murmu, Jagarnath Mahato, Jai Prakash, Devendra Mahato, Dashrath Gagrai and Arup Chatterji were taken into prevent detention in their respective constituencies.
Many JMM leaders were taken into preventive custody in the early hours of Saturday. The police also got written undertakings from a large number of JMM leaders that they would not indulge in violence.
The maximum detentions were recorded in Jamshedpur and Giridih, followed by Dhanbad and Ranchi. Most of the detentions took place when protesters hit the streets. In many places, the district administration imposed Section 144 to prevent unlawful assembly.
Three people sustained injuries in Mango area of Jamshedpur when a bomb was hurled by protesters on a truck. A truck was set on fire in Bokaro in the morning, while a train was stopped in Ichagarh area of Seraikela Kharsawan district.
Local markets remained open in many areas but long-distance transportation took a hit.
JMM general secretary Supriyo Bhattacharya said party leaders Shibu Soren and Hemant Soren wanted to thank the people for their support. “Despite the entire state being turned into a fortress, people still came out in large numbers against the domicile policy adopted by the state,” said Bhattacharya.
But state BJP spokesperson Prem Mittal called the bandh a “failure”. “People came out as usual in many places, local transportation was not affected either. Some areas saw closure only because of apprehension of violence.”