A statewide bandh, called by the JMM and other parties on Saturday to protest against the domicile policy announced by the BJP-led government, paralysed businesses across towns and cities in Jharkhand.
The parties were opposing the policy, saying it fails to protect the interests of tribals and the ‘moolvasis’ or the original residents of the state.
Most of the shops and business establishments, private and government offices, and educational institutions remained shut. Public transport and other vehicles went off the roads in major cities, forcing people to remain indoors.
Barring stone pelting and minor scuffles in some cities, security arrangements prevented violent incidents.
According to the police headquarters, more than 9000 political workers were rounded up across the state. The JMM said at least 25,000 party workers were arrested over the last two days.
Three people sustained burn injuries in Jamshepur when bandh supporters set a truck from Andhra Pradesh on fire. A bus was set ablaze in Jaridih and the Barkakana-Gomoh passenger train was stopped for a while in Bhandaridah in Bokaro district. Police arrested political workers to foil their attempts to stop Rajdhani Express in Koderma and Giridih.
“Bandh was successful despite police arresting scores of workers. Our voices were choked and the right to freedom of expression was snatched from us,” said JMM general secretary Binod Pandey.
Police said leaders detained for enforcing the bandh included Rajmahal MP Vijay Kumar Handsa and nine MLAs.
“We had intelligence reports that bandh supporters could damage property and stop road and rail movements. The proactive role of the administration and our preparations prevented political workers from indulging in violence,” said the additional director general SN Pradhan.
In Ranchi, major shopping centres and malls remained closed with the streets wearing a deserted look. Bandh supporters broke glass of a vehicle and blocked a road in Ratu but the police dispersed them.
DGP DK Pandey moved on the streets to monitor the situation. Buses and auto-rickshaw remained off the roads. Police force was stationed at sensitive spots and drones were used to monitor some areas.
The bandh drew mixed response in urban areas but was effective in rural areas in East Singhbhum, West Singhbhum and Seraikela-Kharsawan districts of Kolhan division. Long-route buses did not ply. Life was paralysed in Maoist-hit blocks such as Ghatsila, Sonua and Manoharpur. Markets in Jamshedpur and Adityapur opened after 11am.
In Dhanbad, bandh supporters burnt an effigy of the chief minister and blocked national highway 2 in Barbadda for some time.
Senior superintendent of police SK Jha said, “Bandh was a flop. Security was provided at all locations and no major untoward incident has been reported.” Bandh supporters failed to reach railway stations to stop trains.
The bandh call was effective in Bermo coal belt of Bokaro district. Nawadih police station officer-in-charge Ram Chandra Ram was injured after he fell down while trying to stop a JMM procession on Friday evening.
Markets and offices remained open in Hazaribagh town. Production and transportation of coal was affected and heavy vehicles did not move on the national highway. Around 1200 workers, including of CPI (M-L) and JMM, were arrested in Ramgarh.
(With inputs from Dhanbad and Jamshedpur)