People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXV

No. 08

February 20, 2011

JHARKHAND

 

Convention Takes up CNT Act, Displacement Issues

 

Shashikant

 

ON February 5, five Left parties, viz. the CPI(M), CPI, Forward Bloc, MSS and RSP, jointly organised a one day state level convention on the Chhota Nagpur Tenancy Act (CNT Act) and on the issue of displacement, at HDC Hall, Purulia Road, in Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand.  CPI(M) state secretary Jnan Shankar Majumdar, Bhuvaneshwer Prasad Mehta (former MP) of CPI, Radhakant Jha of RSP and Sushanto Mukharjee of MSS and Forward Bloc leaders addressed the convention.  Several intellectuals, cultural activists, lawyers Like Professor B P Kesri, film-maker Meghnath, Vaswi Kido (member of State Womenís Commission), C D Singh (advocate, Ranchi High Court) also addressed the convention.

 

CPI(M) state secretary Jnan Shankar Majumdar presented the approach paper on the CNT Act while the CPI state secretary Bhuvaneshwer Mehta presented the approach paper on the issue of displacement. Kisan Sabha leader and former MLA, Rajendra Singh Munda, presided over the convention. About 400 cadres of the five Left parties and many other people from all over the state participated in this convention.

 

It is known that the area of present day Jharkhand saw, for about 150 years, protracted and repeated revolts and uprisings of the adivasi (tribal) people and other inhabitants. This includes their participation in the first war of independence (1857) that had had a big impact upon them. One of the main directions of the movement was for the protection of the tribal peopleís land and land rights. As a consequence, the British government was forced to make several regulations with limited land protection rights for the adivasis and other inhabitants of the region. These regulations were later codified in the Chhota Nagpur Tenancy Act 1908 and the Santhal Pargana Tenancy (SPT Act) 1949. One the directions of these acts is the governmentís responsibility to check the exploitation the adivasis, dalits and other weaker sections and to protect their lands.

 

Despite these provisions of law and even the High Courtís judgement in favour of the tribal and other inhabitants of the area, all the Congress led governments of the undivided Bihar and Jharkhand refused to discharge their responsibility in this regard and now the BJP led Arjun Munda government of Jharkhand is following the same trail. On the contrary, they have been repeated attempts to dilute the provisions of the CNT Act. In 2003, three years after the formation of Jharkhand as a separate state through the bifurcation of Bihar in 2000, the then BJP led Babulal Marandi government made an attempt to amend the CNT and SPT  Acts; even the Vidhan Sabha (state assembly) constituted a committee for this purpose. Now, once again, attempts are being made to dilute the CNT and SPT Acts in order to make the lands of the weaker sections free for sale in the open market. This would also make the government free from any responsibility or involvement to protect the weaker sections as provided in the land tenancy laws and as directed by the constitution. The neo-liberal economic policy framework and the process of globalisation are having a deep impact in Jharkhand.

 

In this background, the CPI(M) has been raising this issue as well as the issues of large scale and illegal land acquisition, land disputes, and violence against the adivasis and dalit masses. Now the five Left parties working in Jharkhand have taken the initiative to defend the land and constitutional land rights of the adivasi, dalit and other weaker sections in the state and have given a call to the people of Jharkhand to launch a big and continuous mass struggle in all over the state on these issues.