Jamtara, Aug. 1: “Neta nahin woh aandhi hai, Jharkhand ka Gandhi hai,” went the cries as Jharkhand Mukti Morcha chief Shibu Soren’s motorcade threaded its way into sleepy Jamtara from nearby Mihijam.
His destination was still some 4 km away — the small village of Kanchan Bera, from where the neta began his journey to be Jharkhand ka Gandhi. But the lanes and bylanes of the town were choked with thousands of party supporters arriving on foot or in trucks and buses since early this morning, unmindful of the scorching sun.
They were still coming in the evening — apparently delayed by stalled traffic on the G.T. Road. At least 20,000-25,000 people thronged Kanchan Bera as Soren addressed a rally. But JMM sources claimed 50,000 people had come to give their Guruji — as Soren is popularly known — a “hero’s welcome”.
The former Union coal minister made a “dramatic entry” into Jamtara as his party flexed its muscles to show that hounding its chief was no child’s play. Tomorrow, he will surrender before the fourth additional district and sessions judge here in connection with the Chirudih massacre case of 1975.
“This is the beginning of another struggle against the oppressors who have held Jharkhand to ransom. We will have to get rid of them to ensure that people have the power in the state.
“This is the reason Kanchan Bera was selected as the venue for the meeting as it was in the early seventies that the tribals (led by Soren) united against land grabbers and money-lenders from this small village,” said district JMM president Shyamlal Hembrom.
The party invested all its resources — man and material — in the show of strength to fan a sympathy wave in favour of Soren and the JMM.
Party workers directed their anger at the BJP government, accusing it of “politically victimising” Soren and re-opening old cases going back to the struggle for a separate Jharkhand.
“Babulal murdabad, Arjun Munda murdabad, Bharatiya Janata Party murdabad,” shouted the cadre, brandishing bows and arrows, swords, daggers and axe. The supporters targeted BJP MP Babulal Marandi, who they believed had raked up the Chirudih case.
With the rally, the party is also hoping to resurrect its crumbling vote base and drive home the message that it is not easy to lay hands on the Dishom Guru, the “real hero of the masses”.
For the time being, the masses seem to have invested Soren with an aura as a police team from Giridih, which was camping in Jamtara to proceed on a warrant pending against the JMM chief since 1981 in connection with a 1974 murder case, kept away.
“The Jharkhand government had taken Soren lightly, forgetting that he is the only leader of the masses in the state,” said a JMM leader. ( )