regular-article-logo Thursday, 05 October 2023

Food security rights activists condemn FIR by West Singhbhum district administration against water protest

Complaint has been lodged by executive magistrate of Chaibasa Sadar sub-division, Ram Narayan Khalko, at Chaibasa mufassil police station

Animesh Bisoee Jamshedpur Published 28.05.23, 04:58 AM
Villagers protest near the district collectorate in Chaibasa on Thursday

Villagers protest near the district collectorate in Chaibasa on Thursday Picture by Bhola Prasad

Food security rights activists and members of tribal rights organisations have condemned the lodging of an FIR by the West Singhbhum district administration in Jharkhand against villagers for “peaceful protest demanding their basic rights”.

Khadya Suraksha Jan Adhikar Manch on Saturday issued a media statement claiming that hundreds of villagers from different blocks of the mineral-rich and rebel-hit district of West Singhbhum staged a “peaceful protest” under the banner of Akhil Bharatiya Krantikari Adivasi Mahasabha on Thursday at the district collectorate in Chaibasa.


“The demonstration was being led by three Zilla Parishad members (John Meeran Munda, Madhav Chandra Kunkal and Mansingh Singh Tiriya) who are associated with the Mahasabha. It is unfortunate that without having a positive discussion with the villagers, an FIR has been registered by the administration and the police against all three of them and hundreds of unknown villagers (under sections 144, 188, 353, 504 etc),” the statement said.

“The villagers were protesting against the problem of drinking water, misuse of district mineral foundation trust (DMFT) funds, lack of employment and erroneous electricity bill. After the rally, we raised slogans outside the closed deputy commissioner’s office in support of our demand. No government officials were stopped or obstructed during our agitation,” said Sandip Pradhan from Sonua who took part in the agitation.

“As the police were repeatedly asking us to vacate the area, we left the place and held a meeting at the nearby Tambo ground. Still, police cases have been lodged against us. It seems the administration is not ready to listen to the problems of the villagers,” Pradhan said.

The FIR has been lodged by the executive magistrate of Chaibasa Sadar sub-division, Ram Narayan Khalko, at the Chaibasa mufassil police station.

“We have raised these issues through letters several times but no action was taken. The deputy commissioner and other senior officials should have held talks with the protesters. Instead, cases have been lodged against us. This is a blatant interference with our democratic right to raise our issues in a peaceful manner,” Kunkal said.

“According to the police, Section 144 was imposed around the deputy commissioner’s office and was violated by the protesters. Butwhy is Section 144 imposed around the deputy commissioner’s office? On one hand, the administration does not take action on public issues. On the other, they crush the democratic right to protest peacefully against the violation of public rights by imposing Section 144,” Kunkal added.

The activists demanded immediate intervention of Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren, who also holds the home department portfolio, and withdrawal of the case registered against the protesters. They also sought resolution of the public issues.

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