Bihar JD(U) leaders are in Jharkhand to give a boost to the May 17 tribals’ rally in Ranchi, called to protest the amendments made by the Raghubar Das-led BJP government to the two decades-old tenancy laws.
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, the chief guest at the rally, would join various tribal leaders on stage and exhort people to bring down the Das government.
Tribal activists, under the banner of Adivasi Sengel Abhiyan (ASA), are buoyed by the presence of JDU leaders and non-tribals, and feel that their support would strengthen the campaign.
“The Kurmi/Mahato population in Jharkhand is huge. For long, they did not have a leader who could represent them strongly. With Nitish coming to Jharkhand, the (Raghubar Das) government would heed their voices,” hoped ASA leader and former IPS officer, Arun Oraon.
Oraon said the Bihar chief minister’s office has sent a confirmation letter of Nitish’s participation in the May 17 rally.
He said the Ranchi unit of ASA are making all arrangements to host guests and participants.
The ASA is a conglomeration of tribal leaders from Jharkhand and comprises former MLAs, ministers, parliamentarians, educationists, civil society members and civilians who are opposed to the amendments made to the two tenancy acts, Chhota Nagpur Tenancy (CNT) Act and Santhal Pargana Tenancy (SPT) Act.
The BJP government has amended the two laws, allowing acquisition of tribal agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes.
While tribals fear their land will be taken for setting up of industries, the Raghubar Das government has repeatedly asserted that land would be acquired only for development projects like building schools, hospitals and constructing roads.
ASA leaders have asked all the 28 tribal legislators in the assembly to resign from the House and bring down the BJP government.
They are holding panchayat level meetings and mobilising villagers to socially boycott their legislators if he or she doesn’t resign from the assembly or join them in the protests.
Beginning June 7, ASA will hold a jan adalat (people’s court) in every district wherein villagers will give a clarion call to their tribal MLA to quit or face social boycott.
But before that, the Abhiyan is planning to increase their volunteer base, and for this, they will visit villages of tribal heroes and icons like Birsa Munda, Sido-Kanhu and others, collect mud, and make at least 1,000 youth in each block of Jharkhand pledge to join the ASA campaign.
“The movement is gaining momentum by the day and soon, it will take the shape of a movement that will go down into the annals of history as one of the largest tribal uprising in the state,” ASA leader and former MP Salkhan Murmu said.