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Army action spurs tribal ire

Ranchi, May 10: The capital had to pay a heavy price for a hasty move by army officials today.

Around noon, army personnel “uprooted” the traditional Sarna flag, which the tribals worship, from a plot of land in Hinoo and “demolished” the fences around it. With the news spreading like wildfire, several hundred men, women and children rushed out of their houses raising slogans and blocked Kaproori Chowk, also known as Hinoo Chowk.

Roads leading to the airport, railway station and Khunti-Chaibasa from Hinoo Chowk were blocked with burning tyres. Motorists were chased away and some vehicles were reported to have been damaged.

Passengers on way to Birsa Munda airport and to the railway station to catch flights or trains as well as those arriving in the city were not allowed to proceed. After much persuasion, they were allowed to go on foot, dragging their luggage for more than a kilometre.

The irate mob also chased away army officials, who came to Hinoo Chowk for negotiations. The local police looked on helplessly. Pleas of vehicle owners to allow them to walk past fell on deaf ears.

The drama continued for more than six hours. The deadlock was resolved only after the district administration agreed to institute criminal cases against the army officials after proper inquiry.

The said place of worship is on a plot of land that was transferred to the army long back. Since then the army has been struggling hard to get the land vacated, but to no avail. The tribals argue that no one can deny them entry to their place of worship.

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