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JNU unions back Barla

New Delhi, Nov. 14: Jharkhand students in Delhi have come out in support of tribal activist Dayamani Barla, who is now leading an agitation against land acquisition in Nagri, but was arrested last month In an old case.

Students attached to All India Students’ Association (AISA) and Jharkhand Tribal Students’ Association (JTSA) at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) have issued a 10-day ultimatum to the state government to release Barla failing which they have threatened to hit the streets in Delhi.

“This is an attack on the democratic right to dissent. It is completely unacceptable that the government resorts to such tactics to scuttle democratic demands of the people. If the government does not stop torturing Barla, we will get down on the street and stage a protest demonstration at Jantar Mantar,” said Ganesh Majhi, president of JTSA.

Barla has been in jail for nearly a month. On October 16, she was sent to jail for a case dating back to 2006, when she was accused of leading a roadblock. Days later, she got bail, but was re-arrested in two old cases where she was accused of disrupting law and order during a protest.

After opposing Laxmi Mittal’s proposed steel plant, Barla has been leading a movement since 2010 against the Jharkhand government for acquiring 227 acre of land in Nagri village in the outskirts of Ranchi for setting up campuses of Indian Institute of Management-Ranchi, Indian Institute of Information Technology and National University for Study and Research in Law.

While the state government claims it acquired the land from locals in 1957-58 to build an extension to Birsa Agriculture University, responses to right to information queries filed by Barla revealed that out of 153 families to whom the government had offered compensation in 1957, only 25 families in Nagri accepted it. The rest, she claims, had refused.

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