JVM supporters scuffle with policemen at the district collectorate on Friday. (Bhola Prasad)
Around 20 JVM supporters were taken into preventive custody on Friday after they blocked a staircase leading to the East Singhbhum deputy commissioner’s office to protest against MP Ajoy Kumar’s missing name on plaques of development projects.
They were released on personal bonds in the evening.
Bistupur police station officer in charge Awadh Prasad Yadav said, “A case of illegal assembling and obstructing government work has been registered against the protesters. They were released at around 6pm.”
Starting at noon, the protesters led by the Jamshedpur MP’s representative Sashi Bhushan began demanding that Kumar’s name be inscribed on plaques for development projects carried out under the Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF).
They also barred government employees from entering their offices for nearly 15 minutes, prompting the district collectorate authorities to inform Bistupur police.
Additional district magistrate (law and order) Ajit Shankar said the activists were initially requested to vacate the staircase as they had not taken prior permission for staging protest near the district collectorate and were preventing officials from carrying out their duties.
“The protesters refused to budge, forcing us to take them into custody. They even heckled our bodyguards when asked to move away. We received several complaints from visitors who could not enter the first and second floors of the collectorate due to the blockade,” he added.
The JVM men, on the other hand, argued that East Singhbhum was an exception where the local MP’s name was being deliberately not mentioned on plaques put up during inauguration of government projects.
“It is a norm that all such plaques should have the names of local legislators and the MP. However, this is not the case with Jamshedpur MP Ajoy Kumar, especially with BRGF projects, which include setting up of culverts, bridges, anganwadi kendras and roads in various blocks,” said Bhusan, who is lodged at Bistupur police station.
In East Singhbhum, the Centre sanctioned funds to the tune of Rs 22 crore under BRGF for 2011-12, even as a backlog of projects from the previous fiscal remain.
Around 50 women activists of the JVM, too, staged a demonstration in front of Bistupur police station demanding the release of the protesters.
“The district administration is acting at the behest of BJP leaders who are afraid of the soaring popularity of Ajoy Kumar. Our MP’s representatives have written several times to deputy commissioner Himani Pande about his name not figuring on plaques. But we have only seen verbal assurances. Today’s arrests were a violation of the constitutional rights of our activists since they were staging a peaceful agitation,” said JVM’s women wing leader Usha Singh.
Interestingly, the local MP is a member of the committee that chooses projects undertaken under BRGF.
Since his election in July 2011, Kumar — also a former city superintendent of police — has given priority to implementation of development projects under BRGF, pursuing the issue with the state and district administration.
He had also prodded panchayat members to raise several local infrastructure issues, which were taken up under BRGF during the selection committee meeting.