Jamshedpur, Dec. 12: If chief minister Arjun Munda contests the by-elections from Kharsawan as planned, he can expect a stiff challenge from the Adivasi Ho Samaj Mahasabha, the leading tribal outfit of Ho dominated Kharsawan.
Upset over the panchayat elections, which was opposed by several tribal outfits, the Mahasabha has begun mobilising support against Munda. About 70 per cent of the Kharsawan electorate belongs to the Ho community.
The Mahasabha, at a meeting in Kharsawan today, resolved to observe January 1 as Kharsawan Firing Martyr’s Day on its own, and vowed not to allow any political outfit or politician to participate in the programme.
Mahasabha president Damodar Hansda said none of the tribal leaders including Shibu Soren, Madhu Koda or Arjun Munda had ever felt it necessary to find out how many tribals had fallen victim to the police firing at Kharsawan on January 1, 1948.
“These tribal leaders have neither given any importance to the long-standing demand of ours for conducting the survey of the firing victims nor done anything to pay respect to the martyrs. More people were killed in the Kharsawan firing than in Jalianwalabagh,” Hansda said.
The Mahasabha will conduct the survey to identify the martyrs, Hansda told The Telegraph
“We will conduct a house to house survey in Kharsawan, Kuchai and Khuntpani and will try to find out the names of those killed in the firing 62 years ago. At the same time we will spread the message of how to teach the tribal politicians a lessons,” he said.
Hansda alleged that not only in Kharsawan, but tribals in entire Kolhan were upset with the chief minister Arjun Munda as he had turned a deaf ear to their protests against the panchayat elections.
“Half a dozen tribal outfits, including the Mahasangh had gone to Jharkhand High Court and the apex court, challenging the panchayat elections in Kolhan as the panchayat system would disturb the age-old Manki-Munda system. Before going to the courts, we had approached Munda, requesting him to avoid holding rural polls here, but he did not pay heed to our plea,” Hansda said.
A key functionary of the Mahasangh said the outfit has about 22,000 members in Kharsawan alone, and they would pledge their support to any political party which will oppose Munda during the polls.
The Kharsawan by-election is likely to be held in March. Sitting BJP MLA Mangal Singh Soy has already resigned from the post, paving the way for Munda.