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Kurmis in road rage

Ranchi, Feb. 5: The Kurmis and Mahtos today carried out their threat and descended on the streets to enforce the statewide chakka jam called to protest the JMM’s decision to deny a Rajya Sabha ticket to Sudhir Mahto’s widow Sabita.

The strike, which was called by Kurmi Vikas Morcha, enjoyed the support of several Kurmi and Mahto outfits like the Kurmi Sangharsh Samiti and Kurmi Sena among others. Members and leaders of these organisations fighting for the rights of the Kurmi-Mahto community — a backward class caste group with considerable political say — were out on the roads since morning to make the chakka jam successful.

Local parties like former MP Salkhan Murmu-led Jharkhand Disom Party and Surya Singh Besra’s Jharkhand People’s Party also rallied behind the agitators.

Normal life was mainly hit as few vehicles plied on the Ranchi-Jamshedpur, Chandil-Balrampur and Ranchi-Bokaro-Dhanbad routes.

In Bhuiyandih, a strong Mahto-Kurmi belt situated along Ranchi-Jamshedpur road in Tamar police station area, a blockade put up by the protesters caused immense trouble to commuters. The impact was also severe in places like Booty More, BIT Chowk, Ormanjhi, Gondlipokhar, Silli, Mahilong, Bundu, Tamar, Tupudana, Nayasarai, Kanke Chowk and Ratu Road.

Senior office-bearer of Kurmi Vikas Morcha Sheetal Ohdar told The Telegraph that the call for chakka jam was first given by their organisation and later drew immense support from similar outfits and organisations.

“Through this protest, we wanted to say that we are not going to accept any anti-Kurmi stand of the state government,” he said, but failed to explain whether Sabita deserved a Rajya Sabha seat just because her husband is no more.

But he clarified that the JMM should not have named the widow as a Rajya Sabha candidate in the first place if it was not sure of fielding her.

The Shibu Soren-led party did a turnaround and withdrew Sabita’s name to support RJD’s Prem Chand Gupta, citing coalition compulsions. The decision snowballed into a major issue with the Kurmis crying “humiliation”. Three party MLAs also raised strong objections and submitted their resignations to JMM chief Shibu Soren even though they are yet to quit formally.

However, allies RJD and Congress appeared to be undeterred by today’s protest. RJD senior leader Girinath Singh dismissed the issue, saying the JMM should adequately compensate Sabita, while Congress does not want to meddle in JMM’s internal affairs. “The Sabita episode is JMM’s internal matter. They have to take a decision,” said party leader Pradeep Balmuchu.