Ranchi, June 27: Former minister Bandhu Tirkey, who recently joined Trinamul Congress and made a futile attempt for the Ranchi MP seat, took a plough to Kute this morning to till the soil where chief minister Hemant Soren laid the Assembly building foundation stone on January 21.
Around 10.30am, Tirkey, along with over 400 villagers, reached the site. As people cleared grass, Tirkey ploughed and planted maize to symbolically “reclaim” the plot from the state to villagers.
Known faces accompanying Tirkey included senior BJP leader Deepak Prakash, president of Jharkhand Bus Owners’ Association Krishna Mohan Singh, Hatia MLA and Ajsu leader Naveen Jaiswal and XISS alumnus who contested last year’s mayoral elections Ratan Tirkey.
Chief convener of HEC Visthapith Parivar Samiti Prem Prakash Shahdeo said the event was a protest against the state project to develop a core capital on villagers’ land, which despite having been acquired by the government to develop HEC in 1959, was unused.
Villagers wanted land back “officially”, as it had not been used for the purpose it was taken by the state, he said. It is common knowledge that villagers had been farming there all these decades.
Supporting Tirkey, BJP leader Deepak Prakash said: “The demand of villagers is as valid as the bid to construct Assembly building and core capital. I participated in the event as I want rehab of villagers before construction starts.”
Assembly Speaker Shashank Shekhar Bhokta differed. “This doesn’t augur well for development. Earlier, similar protests were organised against triple campuses of IIM, IIIT and NUSRL,” he said.
Admitting “development causes displacement”, Bhokta stressed on “proper rehab package”. At the same time, he added: “Such protests as cures are worse than diseases.”
On January 21, Hemant laid the foundation at Kute amid tight security cover and Congress and Ajsu protests.
No FIR has been filed. SSP Prabhat Kumar said it was not a law and order problem. “It is a land-related issue and we will think on all aspects before taking action,” he said.