People's Democracy

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


Vol. XXXVII

No. 31

August 04 , 2013

 

 

CPI(M)-CPI Team on Keredari Police Firing

 

G K Bakshi

 

ON July 24, 2013, a team of the CPI (M) and CPI visited village Chatti-Bariyatu under Karedari block of Hazaribagh district, at a distance of about 40 km from the district headquarters. This was the place where only a day before the Jharkhand police had opened brutal firing on the villagers. The CPI(M)-CPI team met the wife and other family members of the deceased as well as the villagers and those admitted in Sadar Hospital at the district headquarters.

 

CPI(M) state secretary Gopikant Bakshi, state secretariat member Prakash Viplav, Hazaribagh district committee secretary Ganesh Kumar Verma, Shashikant, Sanjay Prasad, Rambilash Singh (all of the CPI-M) and Mahendra Pathak from the CPI were in the team.

 

The teamís interaction with the villagers revealed an alarming situation regarding the connivance of contractors of the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) and the police.

 

The team concluded that the way the police acted against the peacefully protesting villagers against the forcible construction on the multi-crop agricultural lands was totally unjustified. It was in broad daylight, at about 11 a m on July 23, 2013, when without any provocation from the villagersí side, and without any warning or lathicharge etc, the police chased the villagers for more than half a km from the construction site and opened fire indiscriminately after entering the village.

 

The bullet injuries on the head and belly of the deceased Keshar Mahto, the bullet injury on the right jaw of Ramesh Mahto (owner of four acres of land) and bullet injury on the knee of Makhan Mahto (owner of three acres of land) revealed that the attitude of the police was very vindictive. Two critically injured persons --- Nanu Mahto and Rahul Mahto --- had to be admitted to the government hospital at Ranchi, the state capital.

 

The dreadful incident was perpetrated when the ryots were peacefully protesting against forcible construction of a shed on the land of the villagers, without their consent.

 

Negotiation between the ryots and the NTPC management was going on for acquirement of the land, but no settlement had been reached.

 

The landowners were demanding proper compensation for their multi-crop land, and their rehabilitation and resettlement including employment. This has not been agreed to by the management to date.

 

One must note that these multi-crop lands are the economic base of the whole area which produces paddy, wheat, pulses and various cash crops including vegetables which are sent to different markets of Hazaribagh, an industrial district.

 

It is also of vital importance to know that two coal blocks in the area were allocated to the NTPC on January 25, 2006. But as no work was started within the stipulated period, the allocation was cancelled on June 14, 2011. Later, Chatti-Bariyatu and Keredari coal blocks were allocated to the NTPC in January 2013, and the environment and forest clearance has also been obtained recently. But the villagers were being displaced without ensuring their proper rehabilitation, resettlement, compensation and employment.

 

The area covered by the two said coal blocks in Keredari and Chatti-Bariyatu comes to about 1400 acres of land, spread over six villages.

 

The CPI(M)ís Jharkhand state committee has demanded a judicial inquiry headed by a sitting judge of the High Court to bring the facts to light, proper punishment to the people responsible for the situation and to those responsible for the firing in particular, Rs 20 lakh compensation to the family of the deceased, adequate compensation and proper treatment for the injured at the governmentís cost, and stop to acquirement of the villagersí land until a proper policy for acquisition of land is finalised by the central government.

The party organised protest actions in different parts of the state of Jharkhand July 24, 2013. At the headquarters of the Hazaribagh division, a demonstration was organised on July 26, 2013, while other broadbased actions were being planned at the state level.