1 March 2012, Devdhar
On 1 March the first halt of the journey was at village Madrensari in Devdhar district where a public hearing had been organised by the ‘Ekta Mahila Manch’ and ‘Sajha Manch’. Chief of the village Madrensari Shri Kapildev said that in this region where the dalit are in majority more than 60% of the families are landless. In 1968 Bhoodan land was distributed to 26 families in the village but till
date the final settlement of the land has not been done. Only 12% of the land in the region is irrigated therefore the marginal farmers and agriculture labour are forced to migrate to neighbouring states. Shri Baikunth Pandey of village Lakhangadhia said that 1000 acres of land has been marked for an industrial unit by Dalmia Power Plant Limited. The Gram Sabha passed a resolution against the setting up of the plant and submitted the same to the administration but no action was taken. Innumerable cases of land record grabbing by the land mafia in Kokajari, Lakhangadhia, Badhki Tant, Sadhujor, Taparia and Motidih have been reported and during the movement criminal cases were registered against more than 100 villagers. He said that the state government should be sensitive and responsive enough to stop all land distribution till all the claims of the tribal communities have been settled under the Forest Rights Act. Member of the Zilla Parishad Smt Sunita Singh said that the in the state of Jharkhand the tribal population is slowly reducing and in Devdhar district it is a mere 13% of the population. It is shameful that the government has not been able to settle the claims of such a small proportion of the population. In the past the government has announced many schemes for the benefit of the Pahadia Scheduled Tribe but in the absence of basic services their population is rapidly dwindling. She concluded with an expression of her belief that the Jansatyagrah Movement would lead to the empowerment of the elected representatives in the region.
The next halt of the journey was at Budai Gaon in the Madhupur region where a meeting had been organised by the ‘Sajha Manch’ and other local organisations. Addressing the meeting senior social worker Shri Arvind Ji said that after the creation of the state of Jharkhand organisations that had been active in raising the issue of tribal rights failed to implement policies and laws, that would empower them, once they themselves came into power and became the rulers. He further added that the proposed amendment to the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act is intended to enable uncontrolled transfer of lands to the mining and industrial corporations. Despite innumerable movements for tribal self-rule in the state the setting aside of issues raised by the ‘Adivasi Mantarna Parishad’ denotes sheer contempt, by the state government, for the disadvantaged sections of the society. He concluded by saying that at a time when there is a need for raising one’s voice in support of the poor all the organisations should unite and join the Jansatyagrah Movement. Senior social worker Shri Ghanshyam Bhagat said that the issue of security of people’s organisations and social workers should be raised through the medium of Jansatyagrah. In the states of Jharkhand, Odisha and Chattisgarh more than 1000 social activists have become victims of state repression. Attempts are also being made to silence the voices of people’s movements through such draconian laws as the Special Securities Act. The fact that more than 1000 people’s movements have promised support to Jansatyagrah shows that despite all types of repression the people’s organisations are united for a final and decisive movement. He concluded by saying that for the first time a people’s policy is being written through the Jansatyagrah and the government would have to answer the questions asked therein. He announced complete support for Jansatyagrah 2012 on behalf of all those present in the meeting.