The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Strike call for seat shuffle

Ranchi, Aug. 18: Several tribal outfits today called for a statewide bandh on Tuesday, August 21, to protest against the Delimitation Commission’s recommendation to reduce seats reserved for tribals in both the Lok Sabha and the Assembly.

Jharkhand Mukti Morcha also reiterated its threat of launching an economic blockade if the central government failed to stop the recommendation from taking effect. The threat was endorsed by HRD minister Bandhu Tirkey as well.

JMM leaders on Saturday were trying to discuss the issue with party chief Shibu Soren, serving term in jail. They hoped Soren too would support their resolve to stop movement of coal and iron ore from the state, if necessary.

The commission notified the recommendation yesterday after nearly five years of deliberations and on the basis of the census of 2001.

Tribal outfits have been accusing the government of first failing to prevent large-scale migration of tribals from the state and then reducing their representation in Parliament and the Assembly on the plea that their population in the state has gone down.

The bandh call was today supported by Jharkhand Janadhikar Manch, Parha Raja, Manjhi Parganait, Munda-Manki Sangh, Dokro Sohore, bodies representing traditional tribal chieftains and Salkhan Murmu, former MP who is contesting the Jamshedpur bypoll as a Bahujan Samaj Party candidate.

Tribal chiefs resolved to enforce the bandh in all the 112 blocks falling in the scheduled area of the state. Tribal bodies today blamed both Congress and the BJP for ignoring tribal interests.

They called upon the state government to turn down the recommendation through an official resolution, both by the government and by the Assembly.

They also demanded that the central government amend the Constitution to maintain status quo in the number of reserved seats.

Salkhan Murmu hoped tribals would get justice from the Jharkhand High Court, where he has challenged the authority of the Delimitation Commission to interfere in the Scheduled Areas. The next hearing of the case is scheduled to be held on Monday, August 20.

K.D. Singh, a CPI spokesman, said the party has not yet finalised its stand on the bandh call. “But we strongly support the issues raised by the tribal outfits,” he added.

CPM state secretary J.S. Majumdar called upon the Prime Minister to intervene in the larger interest of tribals.

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