The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Threat of life on foot for 2 days

Ranchi/Jamshedpur, Dec. 15: It will be a protest with a difference, pledged the tribal bodies which have given a two-day 'chakka jaam' call throughout the state on Friday and Saturday.

Ten tribal organisations, including Adivasi Chhatra Sangh, Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad and the Kendriya Sarna Samiti, have given the call to protest against the state government's recommendation to include Kurmis in the list of scheduled tribes.

The organisations said their protest would not inconvenience the people:

No effort will be made to shut down shops, schools or offices

People will be allowed to go about their normal life as long as they go about it on foot

Emergency vehicles, including ambulances and doctors' cars, will not be stopped

No attempt will be made to disrupt flights either

People have been asked to refrain from acts like smashing windscreens or breaking headlights

The good news of course comes with a rider. The organisers have made it clear they would not allow even a bicycle or a cycle-rickshaw to move in the state during the two days. While no attempt will be made to stop mining coal or iron-ore, their transportation will be resisted, the organisers indicated.

Chamra Linda, one of the leaders, while assuring that the protest will be peaceful, appealed to vehicle-owners for cooperation.

The protest promises to be different in more ways than one. Organisers have threatened to unleash thousands of volunteers to squat on the roads, highways and railway tracks ' putting up a human barricade to bring vehicular traffic to a standstill.

The squatters, Linda claimed, would spend the better part of Friday and Saturday on the road and have their meals there as well. They have been asked to make arrangements for blankets and warm clothes, he added.

The organisers plan to target the chief minister's constituency in particular. 'We want to demonstrate that he has alienated tribals even in his home district. A successful protest in Seraikela-Kharsawan will give our cause a psychological boost and make his task of getting elected more difficult,' claimed the leader of another organisation in Jamshedpur. National Highway 33, he warned, will be paralysed.

Home secretary J.B. Tubid claimed that the government was fully alive to the threat and there was no reason to panic. Police, he said, had been alerted and paramilitary forces had been asked to be ready to move in at short notice. Peace, he declared, will be maintained at all costs.

He, however, played down the possibility of clashes between tribals and Kurmis in the state.

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