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Highway blockades by Adivasis hold up traffic

Demands included cancellation of open pit coal mining project at Deocha-Pachami, formation of separate Shantali education board among others

Abhijeet Chatterjee Durgapur Published 05.01.23, 04:18 AM
Protesters block DurgapurBankura road in West Burdwan on Wednesday

Protesters block DurgapurBankura road in West Burdwan on Wednesday Picture by Dipika Sarkar

Adivasis organised blockades on national and state highways for 12 hours at several places across Bengal on Wednesday to press for their 12-point demands.

The blockades organised under the banner of the Bharat Zakat Majhi Pargana Mahal led to a complete halt of traffic in the Jungle Mahal, and West Burdwan, Birbhum and Hooghly districts.


The Adivasis’ demands included the cancellation of the open pit coal mining project at Deocha-Pachami in Birbhum district, the formation of a separate Shantali education board and the establishment of Shantali medium colleges in every district.

As the protest was pre-scheduled, a large police contingent was deployed at blockade sites. The police requested the agitators to lift the blockades but the attempts were not fruitful.

The protesters set up blockades at several places in Bengal by placing trees and photographs of tribal heroes in the middle of the road and threatened to intensify their struggle.

“We have been fighting in support of our legitimate demands for a long time but the state government has been indifferent to those. We will intensify our movement if the government does not meet our demands,” said Rajeswar Tudu, a functionary of the Bharat Zakat Majhi Pargana Mahal in Purulia.

In Purulia, which has a sizable tribal population, protesters blocked the state and national highways at eight places in the district, including Damda More in Purulia town. The blockade continued till 6pm.

Vehicular movement came to a standstill in Purulia with trucks carrying industrial materials and vegetables getting stranded since morning.

Protests also hit neighbouring West Burdwan and Bankura districts. Over 500 supporters of the tribal outfit blocked the Durgapur-Bankura state highway in Durgapur town. The service roads of the NH2 were also blocked due to the protests.

In Panagarh, protesters blocked the Panagarh-Moregram state highway connecting West Burdwan and Murshidabad and Birbhum districts since morning creating a traffic bottleneck on the busy road.

The protests, however, inconvenienced people as they remained stranded on roads for hours.

“I was going to Burdwan on urgent work but I am stuck in the bus since morning because of the blockade. If a movement ends up harassing people it will not succeed,” said Bolpur resident Chinmoy Chattaraj, who was in a Burdwan-bound bus from Bolpur on Panagarh-Moregram state highway.

Asked about their failure to intervene and end the blockade, a police officer in Durgapur said: “We were told by superiors to show patience and not to use force to lift the blockade.”

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