Armed with a sword, a youth gets ready to restrict entry of vehicles to Nagri on Thursday. Picture by Prashant Mitra nNagri ire spills on to road, Metro 7
Ranchi, July 5: The state government is trying to persuade villagers of Nagri to approach the courts once again to find a solution to the dispute over land acquisition and compensation that has disrupted construction of campuses for three national institutes of learning, but the tribals are in no mood to relent.
Today more than 100 villagers blocked the Ranchi-Patratu road since morning, braving sharp downpours, while the administration deployed over 100 policemen at Nagri, a kilometre away, to ensure there was no repeat of yesterday’s violence that led to the partial demolition of a boundary wall being built around the area where IIM, Ranchi, is to have a permanent campus alongside plots earmarked for National University for Study and Research in Law (NUSRL) and Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT).
“We are not going to give in. Nor do we have any option to do so. We cannot go out of the way to rescind the plan (to set up the institutes) or return land or rework compensation after Jharkhand High Court order was upheld by the Supreme Court,” said a highly placed source in the state government.
He explained the government’s predicament.
“The 218-acre land got vested with the state under Land Acquisition Act, 1894, which has been also upheld by the court. The existing law also does not permit denotifying the acquired land. So, our hands are tied,” the senior government official said.
Residents of Nagri have been opposing the cradles tooth and nail, citing land acquisition and compensation issues. Today’s road block was to demand the release of two tribals arrested for yesterday’s violence that left scores injured, including Ranchi SP (rural) Asin Vikrant Minz.
Around two years back, the district administration held talks with villagers and offered to rework and enhance compensation for the acquired land, but villagers, egged on by politicians keen to show off their tribal leanings, moved Jharkhand High Court.
The court ordered the state to release compensation awarded in 1957-58 with 15 per cent interest. The district administration was ready to pay, but the villagers refused to accept the compensation. The money is now with the treasury.
“We asked villagers to opt for a review of the high court order again after Chief Justice Prakash Tatia took over in September last year,” said the senior government official. “But the villagers chose to move the Supreme Court which did not entertain their plea.”
Now, the state government is asking the villagers, informally to begin with, to file a review petition in the high court. “If the court seeks the government’s opinion, we may then indicate our inclination to rework the compensation package. It is the only legal remedy available,” the official said.
But the villagers are adamant about not parting with their land. Arun Pradhan, a convener of Jameen Bachao Sangharsh Morcha that is leading the protests, said they would soon approach a constitution bench of the Supreme Court.
“Our villagers will not part with agricultural land. There is no question of being satisfied with enhanced compensation. The acquisition, carried out in 1957-58, violates CNT Act and Panchayat Scheduled Areas Extension Act,” he claimed.
A 20-member core committee of the morcha is scheduled to meet JMM chief Shibu Soren and deputy chief minister Hemant Soren in Ranchi tomorrow. A meeting of residents of 35 villages in and around Nagri has also been scheduled.
The issue has become more complicated with several activists and tribal politicians joining the protests. NGOs like Jungle Bachao Andolan, the Church-backed Xavier Institute of Social Service and tribal activists like Dayamani Barla have come out in open support of the Nagri tribals.
Among politicians who are looking to score points against the ruling BJP-led dispensation were JVM chief Babulal Marandi, Bandhu Tirkey and Vinod Singh.
Ranchi deputy commissioner Vinay Kumar Choubey said he was taking adequate measures to restore peace, but did not commit when construction work on the boundary walls would resume.