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No talks on Panem

Dumka, Dec. 4: Anti-Panem protesters today turned down a government emissary’s request to end the ongoing agitation, sticking to their demand that the coal company’s chairman turn up for talks.

The in-charge Santhal Pargana commissioner, Avinash Kumar, met Congress leader Stephen Marandi and members of the Rajmahal Pahari Bachao Andolan Samiti around 4pm in a forest guesthouse at Amrapara, 5km from the site of dharna in Pakur.

Marandi, who along with JVM chief Babulal Marandi have been on an indefinite strike for 19 days, handed a copy of the 2006 MoU — signed between Panem Coal Mines Limited and the samiti — to the commissioner.

But they questioned the commissioner why Panem CMD Ujjwal Upadhyay did not arrive for the dialogue

“The state government and Panem have been playing with the sentiments of protesters” Stephen Marandi told The Telegraph, adding he simply returned to the site of dharna after leaving a copy of the MoU that had promised elaborate compensation to land losers in Pachuara. He said Panem had sent the CMD’s subordinates for the talks, which was unacceptable to them.

Last week, Upadhyay had offered to talk to the Marandi duo in Dumka in the presence of the commissioner. His request was refused with the politicians asking him to also include members of Rajmahal Pahari Bachao Andolan Samiti and come to Pachuara for “transparent” talks.

“I fail to understand why the CMD did not come today, having earlier expressed willingness for the same,” said Anil Murmu, the convener of the samiti which had spearheaded the anti-Panem movement under the leadership of slain nun Sister Valsa John.

Murmu said the CMD’s absence in a tripartite dialogue only indicated that he was bent on sending his subordinates to persuade the protesters to end the agitation.

“How will a fresh agreement matter if it is signed by Panem officials who are ranked similar as ones who signed the 2006 MoU that never materialised?” Murmu asked.