Jharkhand: Onwards to Hisab Do Jawab Do Rally

The state-wide Oust Koda Govt., Save Jharkhand campaign has been on since 16 January and will culminate in a massive state-level rally at Ranchi on 10 April. As we near the ‘Hisab Do Jawab Do’ Rally demanding accountability and answers from the Government, several powerful agitations and mobilizations are taking place in various parts of the state.

A couple of months back a poor tribal agricultural labourer Turia Munda committed suicide in Bundu block of Ranchi district. An investigation team comprising CC Member Comrade Bahadur Oraon and JMKS General Secretary Janardan Prasad visited the area. It was found that even after 10 months after work under NREGA for a village water tank, wages amounting thousands of rupees were not paid to the labourer despite dialogue and mass protests at block and sub-division level. Abject misery, death of his wife due to diarrhoea, 4 starving children at home, and continued non-payment of wages became too much for Turia Munda and he committed suicide. Holding the SDO and BDO responsible for this death, CPI(ML) launched an agitation declaring Bundu bandh on 13 February and then a protest dharna in front of the Assembly at Ranchi on 27 February. The Bundu Bandh was a complete success during which the National Highway was blocked for 4 hours. Around 200 people were arrested and the whole market remained closed. The CPI(ML) initiative forced Arjun Munda, leader of the opposition, Congress leaders and local JD(U) MLA to react on the issue. The NREGA Commissioner submitted an inquiry report recommending prosecution of around 10 officials and departmental action against some others. All this has intensified the debate on NREGA. It has also rejuvenated Party work in the Panch Pargana area and new initiatives have begun in Silli and Sonahatu areas.

The Party has launched an offensive against increasing police repression in Garhwa district. In Ramna block a massive protest meeting was organized in which around 3000 people participated – the highest ever Party mobilization to date in the area. Party leaders dared police-administration to crush CPI(ML) branding Party leader Tahir Ansari a criminal. On 14 February a mass meting was organized at Dhurki block in which around 1000 people participated. In order to address the problem of displacement in this area, leaders demanded that the NREG scheme be implemented in every village without delay. In Garhwa block, 17 cadres led by Party leader Shiv Kumar went on indefinite hunger strike. Hundreds of people joined the protest every day. Roads were blocked in Garhwa on 17 February. The Administration was forced to sign a written agreement promising action within a month on the basis of inquiry into the loot in NREGA fund as well as recommendation to the Government for withdrawing cases against CPI(ML) leaders. In support of this dharna as well as demanding jail reform, Party comrades inside the jail started a hunger strike. In the ensuing confrontation between detainees and the jail police, on 13 February all the detainees organized and took the entire jail under their control for 5 hours. Normalcy could be restored in the jail only after the administration accepted the demands. The Party initiative against the police offensive has brought the Party in the centre of the political discourse in the district.

In the Panki area of Palamu district, the Party is engaged in a consistent battle against the lumpenism of local MLA Videsh Singh. When his goons attacked an effigy burning and protest programme in Leslieganj, a 500- strong lathi march was organized there on 20 February and his effigy was burnt braving stone-pelting by his goons. Criminals burnt one motorcycle belonging to the Party. This confrontation has given birth to new activism in the Panki area attracting newer social bases to the Party.

In Lohardaga, the Party conducted a consistent campaign against the fake encounter killing of a villager by police and against corruption in NREGS work forcing administration to distribute wages as per attendance. On 20 February, 500 people, led by CC member Bahadur Oraon and State Committee Member Anant Prasad Gupta blocked the road in Lohardaga.

In Barwadih block of Latehar district, a massive campaign was launched against loot and corruption in the entire assembly segment. It culminated in a huge Vikalp Rally at Barwadih which was addressed by Comrades Vinod Singh, MLA and Janardan Prasad, General Secretary JMKS. Many non-party sympathisers joined the rally. The Hindi daily Hindustan wrote that around 5000 people participated in the rally.

In Vishnugarh block of Hazaribagh, CPI(ML), JMKS and the Party’s student wing AJSA/AISA jointly organized a massive rally attended by a record 5000 people. It was addressed by Comrade Vinod Singh and other leaders. Despite opposition by local MP Tek Lal Mahato, people came from all panchayats of the area to the rally. This new expansion of the Party in the rural areas beyond its traditional influence in the coal belt of Hazaribagh-Ramgarh has created a commotion in the politics of the district, especially in the JMM base. If we succeed in giving an organized shape to this expansion among the middle sections, this may add a new dimension in the politics of the region.

On 27 February, the Party organized a Mahadharna in Ranchi in front of the State Assembly. Party leaders submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister demanding CBI inquiry into NREGS scam in view of the CAG Report, action against BDO in the Turia Munda suicide case, a special session of the Assembly to discuss large scale migration from the state because of institutionalized corruption in Rural Employment schemes, allotment of 2 acres of land to all landless, arresting the killers of Comrade Mahendra Singh, felicitation of all martyrs of the Jharkhand movement, arrest of those guilty for Doranda, Tapkara and Markachcho firings, re-determination of royalty for the minerals extracted from the state and adequate expenditure for the development of the state.

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