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Dharna alert over land grab

Jamshedpur, Jan. 5: Around 35 members of the East Singhbhum unit of Jharkhand Kumhar Mahasangh today staged a five-hour dharna in front of East Singhbhum deputy commissioner Himani Pande’s office, protesting against administrative apathy in preventing encroachers.

Led by Sangh president Gangadhar Prajapati, protesters sat in dharna mode from 10am, demanding immediate action against one Jai Prakas Mishra, who has allegedly encroached on a 0.25-acre plot allotted by Tata Steel to the Sangh in Kashidih. After the dharna, a delegation went to the deputy commissioner’s office and submitted a memorandum.

The memorandum stated that the Kumhar Mahasangh or community of potters had been given the plot 90 years ago by the steel major to make and sell earthen pots. In due course, the organisation set up a community hall and left 0.25 acres for general use of community members.

But Mishra, a Kharangajhar resident, had been trying to grab the plot for over a decade.

Jharkhand Kumhar Mahasangh president said that in the past they had resorted to filing a case against Mishra to prevent him from making further efforts to take over the land.

He added that on May 6, 2010, Dhalbhum sub-divisional officer Sunil Kumar Sinha and Jamshedpur block circle officer Chandra Bhushan Singh had even demolished an unauthorised structure constructed on the plot. But Mishra once again fenced the plot and resumed unauthorised construction.

“Mishra, who has a number of land grabbing cases pending against him in the local court, has not just put up a compound wall on the Mahasangh’s plot, but also a cottage with an asbestos roof,” said a protester.

He also pointed out that when the Dhalbhum SDO had cleared encroachment in May 2010, he had instructed the Sitaramdera police to remain alert and thwart any fresh attempt on Mishra’s part to seize the plot, but the police turned a deaf ear.

According to the memorandum, illegal construction resumed on November 5 with the Sitaramdera police in cahoots with Mishra. Mahasangh members said if the deputy commissioner failed to take appropriate steps, they would intensify their protest.

Mishra could not be contacted for his comments despite repeated attempts.

In a separate case, residents of South Park, Bistupur, had also recently lodged a complaint against a local builder with the DC, accusing the builder of piling construction materials on a community Durga Puja plot. Though Pande had assured to look into the matter, nothing has been done so far.

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