: The ongoing agitation over proposed amendment to two tenancy Acts in the state has been bolstered with an influential tribal body deciding “not to let government” hold any event, including the annual Vikas Mela, in its area.
It also gave a call to boycott legislators to protest the government’s move. Opposition parties and several other tribal bodies are already up in arms against Raghubar Das-led NDA government’s proposal to amend the Chotanagpur Tenancy (CNT) Act and the Santhal Pargana Tenancy (SPT) Act, ostensibly to boost industrialisation in the state. The two Acts bar selling of land belonging to state’s tribal and indigenous people — including members of the scheduled caste (SC) and other backward class (OBC) to “outsiders.” Tribal constitute 26% of the state’s population.
The apex body of the Santhal community, the Lau Vir Baisi at a meeting held two days ago at Bhognadig in Sahibgunj district decided not to let/permit any government programme/function- commemorative or developmental- be held there as mark of protest against the government’s amendment move.
Bhognadig was the cradle of Santhal Hool (rebellion) of 1850s.
The Lau Vir Baisi is constituted and mobilised when exigencies demand mulling over certain important issues confronting the community.
The customary tribal body adopted a resolution stating it would not allow government to organise the Vikas Mela, an annual event at Bhognadig.
In a decree it asked people from the community not to let government organise any function at Bhognadig Panchayat and to prevent MPs, MLAs and minister from taking part in such events.
Mandal Murmu, one of conveners of the tribal body and a descendant of martyr rebel brothers Sidho-Kanhu, said there would be another rebellion if government stuck to its amendment decision.
Apart from boycotting legislators we have also decided to expand the purview of the agitation from panchayat to state level, he said.
Nalin Soren, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha’s chief whip in the Assembly, said it is compulsory for every member of the community to abide by the decision of the Lau Vir. Soren himself is a Santhal.
He said the JMM, which is already protesting the government’s move, welcomes the decision of the tribal body and is willing to work in tandem with it.
The Lau Vir’s clout over the community was evident when Santhals from all over Bihar, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and other states flocked in thousands to attend a meeting convened by it last month to “purify” the busts of Sidho-Kangu at Barhait in Sahibgunj, which was vandalised and desecrated by unknown persons.