Bandh supporters enforce a road blockade in Dumka on Wednesday. Picture by Rajesh Kumar Pandey
Dumka, Dec. 11: A three-day Jharkhand bandh called by Melar Adim Janjati Sangharsh Morcha, which began at 6am today, threatened to hinder road communication in Santhal Pargana initially, but the district administrations’ efforts made sure normalcy was restored.
The outfit has called the bandh in a bid to mount pressure on state government to persuade Centre to include around a dozen sub-castes of Melar community, mostly concentrated in the region, in scheduled caste category, besides reservation of jobs.
The Morcha supporters had managed to paralyse the movement of passenger and commercial vehicles in Dumka and five other districts of Santhal Pargana by putting up road blockades at over 50 strategic locations.
However, Dumka deputy commissioner Harsh Mangla kept his promise to ensure hassle-free movement of traffic and extra deployment of police personnel on prominent roads.
“The Morcha agitation did not have any major effect on vehicular movement any where in the district, as we diverted the traffic to alternate routes,” said Mangla.
On Day One of the strike, shops and offices remained open. Private bus operators, however, extended their support to the bandh call and kept their vehicles off the roads.
Similar scenes were witnessed in the remaining five districts.
Dumka DIG Priya Dubey said the Morcha leaders were being persuaded to withdraw the agitation and a negotiation at the state level was on.
“We have deployed sufficient forces and if necessary the protesters will be removed forcibly from the streets,” Dubey added.
Morcha central committee president Damodar Singh Melar threatened of violent agitation if strict action was taken against them. “We are ready to face bullets,” he said.
Melar denied that anyone from the state government had approached them.
He claimed that their chakka jam in Santhal Pargana in June this year was withdrawn on a written assurance that their demands would be fulfilled in two months. “But nothing has happened till now,” Melar added.