Hundreds of protesters were detained at different places across the state on Thursday during the one-day Jharkhand bandh call given by the joint opposition against the amendments to the land acquisition Bill brought in by the BJP-led state government. The amendments provide for waiving-off a social impact assessment for specific projects of public interest. The opposition has criticised the amendment saying it could lead to corporates easily acquiring land.
The state administration had made adequate arrangements like installation of CCTV cameras and deployment of thousands of troops on the ground. Most schools remained closed even though the administration had appealed to keep them open.
ADG (Operations) and Jharkhand police spokesperson R K Mallick said: “So far, more than 500 people have been detained. Rail traffic was temporarily stopped at one place in Sahebganj. Protesters tried to block trains, but were removed. Forces and senior officials are on the ground. We are keeping a close watch.”
In Ranchi, personnel was deployed at Albert Ekka Chowk, while senior officials took rounds of the city area. Protesters were taken into custody when they reached the Chowk and tried to stage a sit-in.
In Khunti, the police carried out a flag march in the city limits. In Ramgarh, protesters blocked the Ranchi-Hazaribagh four-lane highway in Kujju area. In Dhanbad, protesters were taken into custody for blocking the main highway.
Markets in most of the district headquarters remained closed. Public transport was also hit as taxi and autorickshaw unions have supported the bandh. Long distance bus services, too, were affected.
The state BJP had earlier called the bandh “a gimmick” and “unconstitutional”. The bandh is being observed by the Congress, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) and Left Parties.
JMM acting president Hemant Soren said that the BJP would soon realise the people’s anger.
The administration, meanwhile, has asked people not to take the law into their own hands and protest peacefully. It has appealed to people to carry out their work normally.
In some districts, the police has circulated phone numbers for the public to flag video messages of protesters trying to force a bandh or harass people. The protesting parties have been warned of heavy penalty and strict action if there is any damage to public or personal property.