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Governor Bais’s protester posters bid deepens faultline with Soren govt

Jharkhand Governor Ramesh Bais's move asking the state police to put out pictures of protesters allegedly involved in the 10 June Ranchi violence has been flayed by the ruling JMM-Congress coalition

Police investigate at the site of violence, a day after clashes during protest against now-suspended BJP leaders remark on Prophet Muhammad, in Ranchi. (PTI)

On June 13, Jharkhand Governor Ramesh Bais asked the state police to “display the photographs and addresses” of those allegedly involved in June 10 violence in Ranchi – which broke out during protests against ex-BJP spokespersons’ derogatory remarks against the Prophet, in which that two people were killed and eight injured – so that people could “identify” them and “help” the police in its probe.

The ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM)-led coalition, which includes the Congress, flayed the Governor’s move, calling it an “overreach” allegedly dictated by the BJP-led central dispensation. The incident again brought to the fore the conflict between Governor Bais and Chief Minister and JMM leader Hemant Soren since the former’s appointment last year.

Following Bais’s directive, the Ranchi Police on June 14 released a poster on social media and even put up posters of protesters near Raj Bhawan.

Within hours, however, the police withdrew the move and removed the posters, releasing a statement that it “needed some changes” .

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Sources in the government told The Indian Express that the police’s move did not go down well with CM Soren and top administration officials. On June 15, the CM’s Principal Secretary issued a show cause notice to the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Ranchi, seeking an explanation why the posters were put out in the first place.

Attacking Bais over his directive to the police, Congress spokesman Alok Dubey said that although the Governor is the custodian of the law, his move was “completely immoral and not just illegal”. “I have seen the collage on social media…Law and order is the state subject and the Governor should not act on behalf of the Centre,” he charged.

Echoing Dubey, a senior Congress leader said: “Which law calls for displaying the names of the protesters publicly. Is anything laid down in the CrPC or IPC? The police filed an FIR, but the due process of law involves filing of chargesheet and trial and later conviction, if the case is proved beyond reasonable doubt. Even then putting the names of the protesters will create mayhem. We don’t put photos of political leaders accused of certain crimes on hoardings. We don’t put photos of loan defaulters public, then why this overreach?”

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The JMM also went after Bais, with the party’s spokesman Supriyo Bhattacharya saying that “The Governor has issued an advisory. It is not an order. But this would have only increased hatred in the society.”

This is not the first time Bais – a seven-time ex-BJP MP from Chhattisgarh’s Raipur – and the Soren-led government have had serious disagreements.

In 2021, the Soren government amended the rules for constituting the Tribes Advisory Council (TAC), transferring the power of constituting the body from the Governor to the CM.

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Miscreants throw stones on police during a protest over controversial remarks made by two now-suspended BJP leaders about Prophet Mohammad, in Ranchi. (PTI)

In February 2022, Bais took the stand that an amendment to the TAC rules could not be done without consulting Raj Bhawan, otherwise it would be an encroachment on his rights and powers as per the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution. Bais had taken legal opinion from the Attorney General and then asked the TAC to send all of its decisions to the Governor’s office for approval.

In March, the Governor sent back the Anti-Mob Lynching Bill, passed by the state Assembly, on the ground that there was a “mismatch” between certain definitions, such as for the word “mob”, in the English and Hindi versions of the Bill.

In April, the Governor even sent a complaint made by BJP leaders against Soren and his brother Basant to the Election Commission, which subsequently sent them notices.

Despite their growing disagreements, Soren has, however, refrained from criticising the Governor or the Centre publicly on various rows, including the latest one.

First published on: 17-06-2022 at 03:22:45 pm
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