On July 5, during a state-wide bandh called by opposition parties in Jharkhand, nearly 19,000 people were detained under preventive sections by the police. Opposition parties in Jharkhand have been up in arms against the amendment in The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. The amendment was made in August 2017 and it allows the state to acquire land for certain projects like railways, irrigation, roads, colleges and gas pipeline without the social impact study.
Most of the arrests were made in Dumka, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, and Dhanbad. State Congress chief, Ajoy Kumar, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha acting chief, Hemant Soren, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha( Prajatantrik) chief, Babulal Marandi, and several other senior leaders of these parties were picked up from Ranchi. Veteran Congress leader, Pradeep Balmuchu was also among the detainees.
According to the government, this amendment will speed up the development process. The Opposition parties have accused the centre of making the amendment in favour of big industrialists and corporates rather than the common people.Huge public unrest was triggered when the president approved of the revised bill.
In order to express their discontent, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), Left parties, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM), Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), and other affiliated mass organisations organised the state-wide bandh on Thursday.
The state administration had made arrangements like installation of CCTV cameras and deployment of thousands of troops on the ground. Most schools remained closed even though the administration had appealed to keep them open.
The secretary of the CPI (M) state committee of Jharkhand, Prakash Biplav told Newsclick that the amendment has been made by the government in order to pander to big industrialists. “In 2013 as well, the then central government attempted to make a similar provision in the bill, but could not; it faced strong opposition, and now the centre is trying to do the same with the help of the state government”, he added.
Prior to this, the land acquisition bill has been revised by the state governments in Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Rajashtan, among others.
Chief minister Raghubir Das said, “People of the state are now with development, they are committed to it”. But the opposition offered by people clearly shows that this statement is far from the truth. Ever since the bill has been revised last year, many protest demonstrations have taken place with the opposition demanding that the bill be scrapped unconditionally.