Keredari Firing In Jharkhand

Hemant Soren Govt Shows Its Repressive Hand

[Hardly ten days after the Congress-JMM came to power, the soil of Jharkhand is already soaked with the blood of the forcibly displaced. The guns of the government are trained against Jharkhandis on behalf of the corporate companies and other powers bent on eviction. The firing incident at Pagar village in Keredari block of Hazaribagh district brought back horrific memories of the BJP-AJSU-JDU government when, soon after coming to power, Babulal Marandi spilt the blood of the displaced at Tapkara. We present a report by a high-level fact-finding team of the CPI-ML].

A villager Kesar Mahto (55 years) was killed on the spot and 5 others injured on 23 July 2013 in the police firing in Pagar village of Keredari block in Hazaribagh district. Nanhu Mahto (50), Ramesh Mahto (45) and Rahul Mahto (23) were injured by the bullets of the police. Ramesh Tiwari’s leg was broken in the process of the police beating back the villagers. Kamal Mahto (35) received a crack on the head when petty contractor Pradeep Singh attacked him with a spade. A fact-finding team comprising CPI-ML MLA Com. Vinod Singh, CC member Com. Shubhendu Sen, senior Party leader from Jharkhand Com. Bahadur Oraon, Ramgarh-Hazaribagh district Secretary Com. Bhuneshwar Bediya, and Com. Devkinandan Bediya reached Keredari Chowk at 6 pm and took stock of the situation. Thousands of villagers, men, women, youth and children, bearing the body of slain Kesar Mahto, had blocked the road. CPI(ML)’s local leader Pairu Pratap Ram along with dozens of activists was already present at the location of the road blockade.

The Incident: NTPC and several corporate companies have already embarked upon coal block mining and thermal power installation in Keredari block falling under Badkagaon Assembly constituency. NTPC has long been making efforts to secure lands for thermal power and coal mining, which has from the start been opposed by the local farmers. Construction of the NTPC coal block office in Pagar village was being done through contractors. The villagers had opposed the construction work from the beginning and it was put on hold as a result. When the work was re-started on 23 July 2013 the villagers asked the contractors to refrain from it. But instead of stopping the work, contractor Pradeep Singh attacked the farmers’ representative Kamal Mahto with a spade. The protesting villagers demanded an FIR to be registered for the attack on Kamal and due action to be taken. Meanwhile the police from Keredari Thana reached the spot and hush-hush talks began between the police officers and the contractors. Angered by this, the villagers again came to the site and had just reiterated their demand for stopping construction work when the police, standing solidly by NTPC and the contractors, fired bullets on the villagers without any provocation. One person was killed and 5 injured in the firing.

After the fact-finding team reached the place CPI(ML) MLA Com. Vinod Singh addressed the assembled protesters and said that this incident is not an isolated one but the cumulative result of the policies of the Hemant-Congress government which were no different from those of the previous anti-people governments in the State. The killing of 8 advasis in Tapkara during the Babulal Marandi regime, killing of an adivasi in Kathikund (Dumka) during the Shibu Soren government, slaying of a worker in Bokaro under the watch of Arjun Munda, and the Keredari firing at the very start of the Hemant Soren regime—all these are the result of the pro-corporate government policies which facilitate forcible land-grabbing by corporate companies. The common people are protesting against the snatching of land by the government from the farmers without consulting them or taking their permission. The CPI(ML) has always taken the struggle of the people to the streets and voiced these issues in the State Assembly. Com. Vinod Singh assured the people that he would definitely raise these issues in the Assembly. Com. Bahadur Oraon also addressed the meeting.

CPI(ML) has demanded that (1) the District Deputy Commissioner and the Police Superintendent be held responsible for the Keredari firing and action be taken against them, and a case under 302 be registered against the policemen who fired the bullets, (2) forcible grabbing of farmers’ lands be stopped immediately, all anti-people MOUs be scrapped, and no agricultural or forest lands be secured by the government without the permission of the Gram Sabha and the farmers and (3) the dependents of the slain victim be given jobs and compensation and the injured be given adequate medical treatment as well as compensation.

Box matter

State-wide Protest and Ramgarh-Hazaribagh Bandh

CPI(ML) staged a State-wide protest against the Keredari police firing. The Bandh in Ramgarh and Hazaribagh districts was successful. Other Left parties also declared support for the bandh. CPI(ML) organized bandhs and protest marches at 7 places in Ramgarh and Hazaribagh. About 40 people led by District Secretary Bhuneshwar Bediya were arrested in Ramgarh. Shops were shut and people marched on the streets in Bhurkunda led by Naresh Badaik. Large numbers of activists came out on the streets and made the Bandh successful in Mandu, Hesaland, Vishnugarh and Keredari in Hazaribagh district and burnt the effigy of the government at Kutchary Chowk, Hazaribagh.

Protest marches and effigy burnings were organized at Area 10 in Beliyapur, Dhanbad, led by Com. Sudhir Mahto, at Randhir Varma Chowk led by Com. Sudhir Das and Com. Kartik Hadi, at Nirsa led by Com. Nagendra Singh and Com. Krishna Singh, at Bokaro led by Com. Devdeep Singh Diwakar, at Kodarma led by Com. Shyamdev Yadav and Com. Prem Prakash, at Ranchi led by Com. Shubhendu Sen, Com. Anant Prasad Gupta, Com. Janardan Prasad, Com. Bhuneshwar Kewat, Com. Sukhdev Prasad and Com. Anil Anshuman. Protests in Lohardaga were led by Com. Mahesh Sawariya, at Pachpargana by Com. Bhishma Mahto, at Dumka and Shikaripada by Com. Ramchandra Manjhi and Com. Subhash Mandal, at Devgarh by Com. Geeta Mandal, a Jamtada by Com. Somlal Mirgha and Com. Sushil Modi. Protest marches and effigy burnings of Hemant Soren were held at Palamu and at Giridih led by Com. Rajesh Yadav.

Liberation Archive