*Picture shows protesters belonging to the Opposition Congress in Godda,Jharkhand
Despite all-out efforts to maintain law and order, the statewide shutdown by Opposition parties against the state government's proposed amendments to the land acquisition law, hit normal life in tribal areas of Jharkhand.
The traffic on all roads, highways and market complexes in West Singhbhum, Dumka, Khunti, Simdega, Gumla, Lohardaga and Ranchi remained far away from 'normal'.Even the shops, schools and colleges were closed.
Ahead of general Lok Sabha polls in 2019, the Opposition's shut down and active response to it from among the tribals and minority communities, especially Muslim and Christian has sounded the alarm bell for the ruling BJP government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the centre and Chief Minister Raghubar Das in Jharkhand.
However, the government offices, banks, courts and the state and Centre run PSUs were open."The attendance was normal", said a senior government official in Ranchi.
The police detained scores of protestors in Ranchi and its adjoining areas. The senior Congress leader and Ex-Union Minister Subodh Kant Sahay and ex-CM and chief of Jharkhand Vikas Morcha were spotted leading processions separately.
As per the official records, if the amendments are passed, a social impact assessment report will no longer be required to acquire land for people specific projects of public interest. This was being termed as 'anti-people" by the Opposition parties.
The state government has countered their 'false opinion'.As per the proposal, the land can not be acquired without the approval of the village committee(Gram Sabha). Also, the land was not meant to be acquired for any private company, state government spokesperson said."If the land was needed for public purposes -hospital, school, road, rail track and so on it will be acquired by the government."
In any case,605 protestors were detained in East Singhbhum district, according to a newspaper report. Former MLA Mangal Singh Bobonga and sitting MLAs Shashi Bhushan Prasad, Jaspal Saluja and Vijay Munda were among those detained in various parts of the state.
Markets in most cities were closed, and public transport, including long-distance bus services, were also hit, reports another newspaper.. Taxi and autorickshaw unions have supported the shutdown. Most schools remained closed. In Ramgarh and Dhanbad, protestors blocked highways while some staged sit-in protests in Ranchi.
The BJP led state government had installed closed-circuit television cameras and deployed thousands of police personnel to manage the shutdown.
“So far, more than 500 people have been detained,” said Additional Director General (Operations) RK Mallick. “Rail traffic was temporarily stopped at one place in Sahebganj. Protesters tried to block trains but were removed. Forces and senior officials are on the ground. We are keeping a close watch.”
The Congress, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) and Left parties are supporting the shutdown. “The only development BJP is interested in is that of corporates [sic] and big businesspersons,” the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha said on Twitter. “They treat Adivasis as sub-human beings.”
The state government had earlier called the shutdown “a gimmick” and “unconstitutional”.