THE CPI(ML) had called for a Jharkhand bandh on 14 May to protest against the domicile policy declared by the BJP government, communal frenzy, and amendments to the CNT and SPT Acts that protect the rights of tribals to land.
The BJP State government in Jharkhand used every possible repressive tactic in vain to stop people from participating in bandh, and large scale arrests were made on the bandh day as well as on the eve of the bandh. But nothing could stop the people from expressing their anger against the policies of the Raghuvar Das government and the bandh was a huge success.
On 14 May in Giridih district more than 10,000 people came out on the streets in support of the bandh, held road blocks and marched in bazaars, chattis and villages in Bagodar, Birni, Rajdhanwar, Sariya, Khorimahua, Gawa, Teesri, Jamua, Deori, Gand, Bengawad, Dumri, Giridih Sadar, and other blocks. According to newspaper reports, 2,000 people courted arrest. The people’s support for the bandh was so overwhelming that there was a dearth of police buses for the arrests. The sea of people surged voluntarily and needed no prompting. The bandh was led by district Secretary Manoj Bhakt, Rajkumar Yadav, Vinod Singh, and several other activists. The entire district was shut down.
Similarly, in Koderma district hundreds of people marched in support of the bandh in Jhanda Chowk Jhumri Tilaiya and Domchanch, and the bandh was total. In Ramgarh district two groups of bandh supporters led by Bhuvaneshar Bediya and Hira Gope, marched through the entire town from 6 AM to 10 AM after which they were arrested. Loading of coal at CCL in Ramgarh district came to a complete standstill. At many places coal production was stopped for hours. At Hesalang a road was blockaded thrice at the same place with bandh supporters returning to the blockade after repeated clashes with the police. In Hazaribagh district thousands of people came out in support of the bandh at 9 blocks—Chalkusa, Dadhi, Barkattha, Badkagaon, Bishnugarh, Ichak, Barhi, Hazaribagh and Sadar. At Dadhi, a motorcycle procession was held. The bandh was total in the district, in spite of the fact that in the night of 13 May itself, 5 leading activists were arrested and 200 more activists were arrested in the morning of 14 May when they came out on the streets to campaign the markets for the bandh.
In Ranchi city hundreds of people led by State Secretary Janardan Prasad and Ranchi district Secretary Bhuneshwar Kewat were arrested by the police on the main avenue of the town. In Bundu the NH 33 was blocked by people and about 80 people courted arrest. In Tamad, a huge group of people led by Sukhdev Munda came out on to the streets and were arrested. In Rahe, about 60 people led by Santosh Munda and Dileep came out in support of the bandh and were arrested.
In Dhanbad district, 80 CPI(ML) activists blocked Nirsa Chowk where JMM and other parties also arrived later, and all were arrested. At Randhir Verma Chowk in Dhanbad city 150 CPI(ML) activists were arrested while campaigning for the bandh. Similarly, in Sindri and Baghmar activists were arrested. Comrades Nakul Dev Singh and Bhajohari Mahto were arrested from their homes in the night of 13 May itself.
In the Bermo coal belt of Bokaro district, ML activists campaigned vigorously for the bandh. Eight activists were arrested in Gomiya. In Gumla district 169 activists jammed the main road going to Palkot. The police kept obstructing peaceful bandh supporters the whole day, attacking them four times, and eventually arrested all the activists. Eight activists were arrested in Lohardagga. CPI(ML) held a dharna un support of the bandh at Bokaro Steel City.
In Kundheet block of Jamtada district, 100 activists were arrested when they came out in support of the bandh. People came out in support of the bandh in Nala block. Activists led by Geeta Mandal and Sahdev Yadav marched through the town in support of the bandh, blocked traffic at Tower Chowk, they too were arrested later. In Garhwa, hundreds of people were arrested near the block headquarters. In Nagar Utari, a big group of Left activists led by the CPI, including CPIML activists was arrested while campaigning for the bandh. Eight CPI(ML) activists were arrested at Ramna. Dozens of activists were arrested in Jamshedpur and Shikari Pada in Dumka district.
Activists from the CPI, CPIM, and JMM were also on the streets making the bandh a success. This was an unprecedented bandh in which lakhs of people participated, making evident the growing outrage against the pro-corporate, communal and fascist policies of the government. In the days to come the people of Jharkhand will come out in a decisive battle and all-pervasive opposition against the BJP government, in defence of their jan-jangal-jameen (water, forests, and land) and their mineral resources.