Raghubar Das Government’s War on Anti-Land-Grab Agitators

In two months, the police and CRPF in BJP-ruled Jharkhand have fired on protesting farmers and tribals no less than thrice.

In late August, Jharkhand police fired on anti-land-grab protestors who had assembled for a meeting with the management of the Inland Power Limited (IPL) at Gola in Ramgarh, Jharkhand, killing two persons, Dashrath Mahto and Premchand Nayak. 47 rounds were fired without warning at 300 protestors at Gola – proving that the force used was deliberately deadly and not merely aimed at controlling or dispersing a protesting crowd.

Then, on Otober 1, firing by police and paramilitary killed 4 people and severely injured 72 who were agitating against land grab by the NTPC at Badkagaon in Hazaribagh, Jharkhand. The four killed include three young students Pawan Kumar (16), Abhishek Rai (18), Ranjan Ravidas (18) and a tailor Mohammad Mehtab Alam (29).

Then, on October 21, as adivasis gathered in huge numbers at Ranchi to protest proposed amendments to the CNT and SPT Acts (Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act, 1908 and the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act, 1949), police fired on them, killing one and injuring several. The ordinances proposed to allow diversion of urban and rural lands of ST/SCs and OBCs for commercial use by corporates, real estate brokers and so on. Shamefully, the CM Raghubar Das tried to use communalism to tarnish the protests against this brazen dilution of Jharkhandi people’s rights – he recently declared that protests against the ordinances amending CNT and SPT Acts were sponsored by Christians. And now, his Government has unleashed bullets against this agitation.

These firings are not random excesses by the police. They are part of a concerted plan by the Raghubar and Modi Governments to unleash intensified repression on people’s movements and dilute laws to appease corporations. The movement against land grab in Godda for an Adani power house is growing, as it the agitation against the amendments of the tenancy Acts, and the firings are intended to have a chilling effect on the movements.

At Badkagaon, the police and administration are blaming the villagers and claiming that the innocents killed were ‘outsiders.’ And the Modi Government itself has stepped in to defend the killing, with Union Minister Jayant Sinha, who is also the Hazaribagh MP, blaming the protesting villagers for ‘provoking’ the firing.

Outright police and CRPF terror was unleashed after the firing on the villages of Chipa Khurd, Dadhi Kala and Kanki Dadhi in Hazaribagh – villages that have been protesting land acquisition by NTPC for mining projects for the past decade.