Ranchi: Two opposition parties in Jharkhand – the Congress and the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha Prajatantrik (JVMP) and ruling alliance partner, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) – Tuesday came out in support of tribal villagers protesting the government regaining possession of 227 acres of land for building an IIT, an IIM and a law university that had been illegally occupied by them for farming.
Former Chief Minister and JVMP president Babulal Marandi sat on a one-day fast at Morabadi ground in Ranchi, protesting the state government’s move to acquire land and baton charges by police against villagers last week.
The Congress on Monday had staged a sit-in demonstration in front of Raj Bhavan. “The agriculture land should not be acquired forcefully,” Stephen Marandi, a Congress leader told reporters here Tuesday.
The ruling BJP meanwhile finds itself in a catch-22 situation as its key alliance partner JMM is against forceful land acquisition. “The issue should be resolved amicably instead of the use of force,” said Jharkhand Agriculture Minister and BJP leader, Satyanand Jha.
The government had acquired 227 acres of land at Nagri situated around 20 km from Ranchi more than 50 years ago. The land was used by the villagers for farming as it was not used by the government.
When the state government last year decided to build buildings of IIT, IIM and a law university, villagers started protesting the government move to acquire the land.
The villagers moved the Jharkhand High Court against the state government’s move to acquire the land. The high court passed the judgment against the villagers in April this year and directed the state government to expedite the work on the land. After the setback, the villagers moved the Supreme Court. The apex court in June also refused to hear the case.
After failing to get relief from the courts, the villagers stepped up their protest. Last week, the villagers demolished the boundary wall and clashed with police. Police resorted to baton charge on the villagers in which more than 20 people were injured.
Police action invited sharp reaction from the parties. Jharkhand governor Syed Ahmad also sought a report from the state government over the incident.
–Indo-Asian news Service