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Protests break out in Jharkhand over Bhojpuri, Magahi in govt job exam

These agitations have been mostly seen in Bokaro and Dhanbad districts — where protesters say Bhojpuri and Magahi are spoken by a minuscule proportion — but are now spreading to Giridih and Ranchi as well.

Written by Abhishek Angad | Ranchi |
Updated: February 14, 2022 8:11:05 am
Bhojpuri, Magahi, Jharkhand news, Jharkhand, Jharkhand Government, Jharkhand Government job exam, Government job exam, Bokaro and Dhanbad, Indian Express, India news, current affairs, Indian Express News Service, Express News Service, Express News, Indian Express India NewsA Jharkhandi Bhasha Sangharsha Samiti member addresses a crowd in Giridih. Express

Protests are spreading in parts of Jharkhand over the inclusion of Bhojpuri and Magahi in a government exam for district-level appointments — amid a larger undercurrent of rumblings over the state’s domicile policy.

These agitations have been mostly seen in Bokaro and Dhanbad districts — where protesters say Bhojpuri and Magahi are spoken by a minuscule proportion — but are now spreading to Giridih and Ranchi as well.

At the centre of the protests is Jharkhandi Bhasha Sangharsha Samiti — an organisation of Moolvasis and Adivasis which claims to be apolitical — which has addressed more than 50 gatherings on the issue, attracting large crowds over the last few days. One of its members, Tirth Nath Akash, said the idea of the protests was to pressure the state government against the inclusion of the languages in the two districts — and on the state’s domicile policy. The protesters have demanded 1932 as the cut-off date while taking into account proof of land records, against the current date 1985.

The protests broke out after the state government issued a notification on December 23 to include Magahi and Bhojpuri as regional languages in the two districts for the selection of matric- and intermediate-pass candidates through examinations. The notification is for district-level appointments and is not applicable for the state-wide selection process. As of now, no vacancies against the notification have been advertised. The ruling Jharkahnd Mukti Morcha and the Congress have stayed away from the issue so far. The BJP has not said anything explicitly.

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The state’s domicile policy, meanwhile, has always been a contentious matter.

Following the creation of Jharkhand in 2000, the first Chief Minister, Babulal Marandi, thought it was necessary to define a ‘Jharkhandi’, as it would help in rolling out benefits including government jobs to local people. However, in 2003, Marandi resigned over this issue. The current JMM government has formed a cabinet sub-committee to re-define who would be treated as a domicile resident. Former CM Raghubar Das’ government had come out with a “relaxed domicile policy” in 2016 which included employment for the last 30 years as a category, essentially putting the cut-off year at 1985.

Akash said they have been working in this domain for the last six-seven years. “We had protested against Raghubar Das’ domicile policy and also when he attempted to tweak Santhal Pargana and Chotanagpur Tenancy Acts. There is pent-up anger among the people and it was triggered upon the inclusion of certain language as this would lead to their exclusion in government jobs.” Asked how the large crowds come in the rallies, he said: “We don’t even call them. They call us.”

Akash said: “Language is a very important issue. For example in Bokaro, Dhanbad there is a miniscule population of people speaking Bhojpuri and Magahi, then what sense does it make to include the language in these districts. We are not opposing the inclusion of the same in Latehar, Garhwa and Palamu areas because we know there is a substantial population speaking these languages.”

The faction in opposition said the protests were fuelled by State Education Minister Jagarnath Mahato’s recent comment where he supported the removal of these languages from Dhanbad and Bokaro areas. The minister, who comes from Dumri constituency of Giridih district, said that had even asked the cabinet to remove these as regional languages. On Twitter he posted: “Jharkhand ki Sarkar Jharkhandion ke banaya hai aur yahan unki baat suni jayegi (The people of Jharkhand have voted this government to power. Here their voices will be heard).”

The Bhojpuri, Magahi, Maithili Angika Manch, which is backed by Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) Jharkhand splinter outfit RJD Loktantrik, said that there has been “immense contribution” of many people speaking the Bhojpuri and Magahi languages for Jharkhand state. President Kailash Yadav said: “We request the education minister to see Biharis with respect and do not polarise the views of the public.”

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