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Home / India / Tribals celebrate after Netarhat firing-range veto

Tribals celebrate after Netarhat firing-range veto

We would be organising a series of celebratory events in both Latehar and Gumla districts throughout August: Ratan Tirkey
The tribal delegation with chief minister Hemant Soren at his office in Ranchi on Thursday.
The tribal delegation with chief minister Hemant Soren at his office in Ranchi on Thursday.
The Telegraph

Animesh Bisoee   |   Jamshedpur   |   Published 20.08.22, 01:24 AM

The Jharkhand government has said it would not re-notify Netarhat Field Firing Range, ending the three-decade-long agitation of lakhs of tribal villagers in Latehar and Gumla districts of the state.

To mark the cancellation of the firing range notification, tribals took out victory rallies in different parts of Ranchi on Friday.

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Former tribal advisory council member Ratan Tirkey, who met chief minister Hemant Soren on Thursday, said that “happiness fortnight” would be observed across Latehar and Gumla districts to mark the decision of the government.

 “We would be organising a series of celebratory events in both Latehar and Gumla districts throughout August. We would organise a mass celebration in September in which the chief minister would be invited as chief guest,” said Tirkey.

Tribals under the aegis of Kendriya Jan Sangarsh Samity, Latehar-Gumla, had been agitating against Netarhat Field Firing Range pilot project since the 1990s, when the erstwhile Bihar government had earmarked about 1,471sqkm in Netarhat Hills in Gumla and Latehar for field firing practice by the army, prior to the creation of what is now known as Jharkhand.

Two state notifications of November and March 25, 1992, under section 9(1) of the Manoeuvres Field Firing and Artillery Practices Act, 1938, notified this area for periodical field firing and artillery practice for 10 years.

Separate notifications in 1992 and again in 1999, extended the field firing and artillery practice till 11 May 2022, according to samity secretary Jerome Gerald Kujur.

Owing to enormous resistance on March 22, 1994, practice in the range by the army and the displacement of over 2 lakh tribals across 245 villages was stopped.

 “We had held a human chain protest in May and also submitted a memorandum to the governor (Ramesh Bais) earlier this year and also appealed to the state government for cancelling the notification which technically ended on May 11, 2022. We are happy that the chief minister has understood our concern,” said Kujur.

 A delegation of the samity-led by Kujur, Tirkey, tribal leader and among the founders of Ajsu, Prabhakar Tirkey met the chief minister on Thursday evening expressing their gratitude over the government's decision.

 “The government is sensitive towards indigenous people’s rights and protecting land and properties of tribals. It is our constant endeavour that the tribes of the state should work for the upliftment of the indigenous people,” Hemant said in a release issued by the chief minister’s secretariat on Thursday.

 “The movement had been going on against the firing range for nearly 30 years and the government has taken a decision in the interest of the natives. Work is being done to complete the process related to transfer of the 1,471sqkm land coming under the firing range to the locals,” he said.

Noted rights activists and economist Jean Drèze and farmers leader Mahendra Tikait had also extended support to the agitation of the tribals against the firing range in March this year.



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