The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bandh cloud over capital

Ranchi, Aug. 20: Most of the schools here today decided to shut down tomorrow in view of the bandh call given by different tribal outfits to protest reduction of Lok Sabha and Assembly seats in the state reserved for Scheduled Tribes.

They will compensate by holding classes on Saturday this week, said principals of as many as 18 schools.

Ranchi University too declared postponement of BEd examination scheduled for Tuesday. The examination will now be held on September 7.

Reports reaching from other parts of the state, especially the cities, however, indicated that schools elsewhere would remain open.

The state capital braced up to face the brunt of the bandh. Other urban centres like Jamshedpur, Dhanbad and Bokaro are unlikely to be as affected as Ranchi, the stronghold of most of the tribal outfits. Torch-lit processions were taken out here this evening to mobilise support for the bandh, which is being supported by the Left besides the JMM. Processionists burnt effigies of the “Union and state governments” and warned that they should stop playing with sentiments of tribals in the state.

Bandh protagonists have vowed to paralyse normal life. While essential services would be maintained, they reiterated, they would not allow movement of public or private vehicles. Road and train traffic, already hit by rain, in and around Ranchi are also likely to get affected.

Police are on high alert and, if necessary, Rapid Action Force will be deployed to prevent any untoward incident, said police officers.

UPA leaders regretted the bandh call in private. With the Union government embroiled in the political crisis involving the nuclear deal, they felt, the bandh in Jharkhand tomorrow would do little to shift attention back to the issue.

What’s more, since the AICC has constituted a high-level committee with Pranab Mukherjee at the helm to study the final recommendation of the Delimitation Commission, and the Union law secretary is all set to submit his own report, tribal outfits here could have decided to wait, they added.

The AICC panel is unlikely to meet tomorrow as scheduled, because of the political situation in the national capital. But CPM state secretary J.S. Majumdar refused to describe the bandh as premature. The delimitation controversy, he pointed out, has been pending since 2004 but the Prime Minister first took the initiative to defuse the situation in March this year.

The bandh should serve as a wake-up call to the Union government, said Jharkhand Janadhikar Manch chief Jagdish Lohra. “Tribals cannot be taken for a ride and we will not tolerate any discrimination,” he added. Besides offices and commercial establishments, he warned, the bandh would also include educational institutions and the transport sector.

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