Despite the unprecedented Jharkhand bandh against the Land Acquisition Amendments Bill on 5 July 2018 the Raghuvar government remains bent on snatching away irrigated agricultural land from the farmers and handing it over to corporate houses. Following the statewide bandh on 6 July, the opposition parties jointly held a huge protest dharna on 16 July in front of the Raj Bhavan at Ranchi on this issue. As this is also the first day of the Assembly session, the Opposition decided to combine the struggles on the street with those inside the Assembly and raised the issue of employment policy and religious conversion issues along with the Land Acquisition Amendments Bill issue. Among the Left parties the CPI(ML), CPI, CPM, SUCI mobilized people in large numbers for the Mahadharna. The Marxist Coordination Committee (MCC) also participated in the Mahadharna. There was a sea of people which filled not only the areas at the Raj Bhavan but overflowed into roads and crossroads, jamming the city. The Mahadharna was addressed by CPI(ML) CC member and ex-MLA Vinod Singh, MLA Rajkumar Yadav, Ibrahim Ansari, Bhuneshwar Bediya, Devkinandan Bediya, Bhuneshwar Kewat, Gautam Munda, Jagmohan Mahto, Bhuneshwar Mehta (CPI), Brinda Karat (CPM), Arup Chatterjee and Mithilesh Singh (MCC), and Singheshwar Singh (SUCI). The other leaders who addressed the Mahadharna included Stephen Marandi, Hemant Soren, Champai Soren (JMM), Ajay Kumar, Subodh Kant Sahay, Furkan Ansari, Sukhdev Bhagat (Congress), Girinath Singh, Annapurna Devi (RJD), Pradeep Yadav and Bindu Tirkey (JVM). CPI(ML) leaders said that as soon as the Modi government came to power in 2014 they brought one such ordinance to loot the farmers’ lands across the country and hand them over to corporate companies but they had to withdraw that ordinance because of huge protests all over the country. Now they are bringing in the same ordinance in the form of state-specific amendments in States ruled by the BJP. Gujarat was the first in this series and now they have brought it in Jharkhand. But there is a huge ongoing people’s struggle against this Amendment in Jharkhand and the people of Jharkhand are determined to have this Land Acquisition Amendment Bill withdrawn, implement Schedule 5, implement CNT-SPT Act to save the Constitution, and to save Jharkhand. Preparations for the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections have started and the people of Jharkhand are determined to throw out the anti-people anti-farmer BJP government.
After the conclusion of the Mahadharna an all-party meeting was held in the evening and a memorandum was submitted to the Governor.
Mahadharna in Garhwa
The CPI(ML) Garhwa District Committee organized a one-day Mahadharna on 16 July 2018 in front of the Collectorate. Prior to the dharna a march was held from Indira Gandhi Park to the Collectorate with slogans demanding the withdrawal of the Land Acquisition Amendments Bill and calling for an end to the divisive ideology of the BJP.
The Land Acquisition Amendments Bill is a deadly attack on the people of Jharkhand by the BJP government and will result in destruction of agricultural land, rising land prices, increased starvation deaths, migration and unemployment. It will put the Constitutional rights, CNT-SPT and PESA and Gram Sabhas in jeopardy, the identity, traditions, culture and very existence of Jharkhand will be in grave danger, corporate companies will flourish and fatten while the common people will be left without land and without shelter. The Jharkhand is being looted of its land, unemployment and dignity and this must be fought with a strong people’s struggle. In the dazzle of the 2014 election campaign the people of Jharkhand are giving befitting reply to the poisonous fangs of the BJP. By grabbing agricultural land (which constitutes just 30% of Jharkhand’s land) for non-agricultural purposes they are bent on destroying the livelihoods of farmers, adivasis and the common people of Jharkhand.
Many other demands were also raised in this protest and at the conclusion of the Mahadharna a 11-point memorandum was submitted to the Governor through the Deputy Commissioner with the following demands: revoke the Land Acquisition Amendments Bill; high level enquiry into the Garhwa Sadar Hospital scam; enquiry into High School students’ funds for uniforms being sent into Secretary and President’s accounts instead of students’ accounts; enquiry into sub-standard road construction from Kharsota to Kashnap; payment of arrears to bauxsite loading-unloading workers at Meral; relief for drought-affected places; regular electricity supply; clean drinking water for Bauraha village where villagers are fluoride-affected; CBI enquiry into the killings of Ramji Mahto (Bauraha), Raviranjan (Jobraiya) and Amit Tiwari (Dumriya); enquiry into irregularities in the construction of the Panghatwa Dam canal.
Thousands of people were present at the Mahadharna which was addressed by Lalmuni Gupta, Kalicharan Mehta, Sushma Mehta, Virendra Chaudhury, Prem Vishwakarma, Akhtar Ansari, Kameshwar Vishwakarma, Suryadev Chaudhury, Satyendra Mehta, Kishore Kumar, Anita Tiwari, Surendra Chaudhury and others.