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‘Pressure’ speeds up assault protest

Angarha/Ranchi, Nov. 5: The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha will launch an agitation tomorrow against the assault of local party leader Sitaram Patar allegedly by road construction minister Sudesh Mahto and his bodyguards.

The announcement coincided with charges that pressure is being exerted upon Patar to make him withdraw his complaint to police.

Leader of Opposition Stephen Marandi will lead the protest with two party leaders starting a relay hunger strike near the Angarha block office, on the outskirts of Ranchi, seeking action against the minister. Patar said he would also join the hunger strike.

The JMM worker was allegedly beaten up at Jonha Bazar Tand when he made a suggestion to Mahto on road construction while the minister was there to lay the foundation of a road project.

Patar today alleged that activists of the All-Jharkhand Students’ Union (AJSU) have been pressuring him to agree to a “compromise”. Patar has lodged an FIR against the minister with the SC-ST police station in the capital and a case has been registered (30/2003) under unbailable sections of the IPC and SC-ST Atrocities Act.

“Several AJSU leaders came to my house around 10 pm and told me to compromise. A former AJSU block leader asked me to withdraw the case,” Patar said.

Stephen Marandi also said Patar was under pressure. “The JMM activist and his family are being pressured to wilt. That is why we have decided to launch the protest movement tomorrow itself. Patar is determined and so are we to take this struggle to its logical end,” he added.

But the minister, who is also the president of an AJSU faction, said: “I do not have any fight with anyone. Neither I nor my party workers are trying for a compromise. I have no knowledge about this.”

A lawyer said an FIR, if already “registered”, cannot be “withdrawn” because the police are bound to forward it to a magistrate’s court within 24 hours. “However, the person who has lodged the case can give a petition before the court, saying the matter has been settled,” the lawyer added. A police official said the case has already been forwarded to the chief judicial magistrate’s court.

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