Early morning today Jharkhand Police opened fire on protesting villagers against the forcible land acquisition for a thermal power plant being built by NTPC in district Hazaribagh, Chirdudih area. The firing has left five people dead, 12 critically injured and nearly 50 injured. There is a curfew in the area, outsiders can’t go and many missing are yet to be traced.
The protests against the NTPC plant have been going on since 2010, when the project was announced. NTPC till date has forcibly and fraudulently acquired 8,056 acres of land. However, many issues even on the acquired land remains to be resolved, including higher compensation, employment and so on. Without meeting any of the promises and resolving the outstanding issues, attempts continue to be made to forcibly acquire more land, completely violating many provisions of the Land Act 2013.
Protests have been ongoing at the site and in last ten days thousands from different villages of the Barkagaon had been staging Kafan (shroud) satyagrah. Government rather than trying to resolve the situation tried to arrest one of the leaders and after resistance from the villagers resorted to police firing leading to death of five people.
National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) condemns this dastardly act of terror and unprovoked firing on the long resistance against the forcible acquisition of land. This incident comes barely few months after a police firing on villagers protesting ill impacts of thermal power plants left two dead in Ramgarh district. The impunity with which the Jharkhand government has been dealing with peaceful protests and several instances of opening fire on the peaceful protesters raises serious questions of violations of human rights and complete disregard for the law and order.
The incident also exposes the continued repression and exploitation of the adivasis and the land despite Jharkhand becoming a separate state in 2001. In 15 years, the Indian State and political class has only colluded with the private corporations for exploiting the natural resources. This has often faced stiff resistance from the people and led to manifold instances of police firing, imprisonment and torture. We support the demand of the people asserting their rights over their land, water, forests and minerals and stand in solidarity with their struggle.
We have written to the NHRC and asked them to urgently intervene in the matter and undertake the following action :
· To put a STOP TO THIS REIGN OF TERROR in Jharkhand.
· To immediately ask police to withdraw from the area and let injured be treated and no further violence be inflicted on them.
· To not start witchhunt and arrest of the villagers as we have witnessed in numerous instances in past.
· To take immediate action on the police officials who ordered firing and led to death of four people.
· To immediately ask the Jharkhand government to stop an end to the forcible land acquisition, which is rampant in the state and often has led to the death and imprisonment of the adivasis and farmers there.
We urge the Jharkhand government to immediately withdraw and stop forcibly acquiring land for the NTPC plant and settle all outstanding issues at the earliest.
Medha Patkar – Narmada Bachao Andolan and the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM); Prafulla Samantara – Lok Shakti Abhiyan & Lingraj Azad – Samajwadi Jan Parishad – Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti, NAPM, Odisha; Dr. Sunilam, Aradhna Bhargava – Kisan Sangharsh Samiti & Meera – Narmada Bachao Andolan, NAPM, MP; Suniti SR, Suhas Kolhekar, Prasad Bagwe – NAPM, Maharashtra; Gabriele Dietrich, Geetha Ramakrishnan – Unorganised Sector Workers Federation, NAPM, TN; C R Neelkandan – NAPM Kerala; P Chennaiah & Ramakrishnam Raju – NAPM Andhra Pradesh, Arundhati Dhuru, Richa Singh, Nandlal Master – NAPM, UP; Sister Celia – Domestic Workers Union & Rukmini V P, Garment Labour Union, NAPM, Karnataka; Vimal Bhai – Matu Jan sangathan & Jabar Singh, NAPM, Uttarakhand; Anand Mazgaonkar, Krishnakant – Paryavaran Suraksh Samiti, NAPM Gujarat; Kamayani Swami, Ashish Ranjan – Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan & Mahendra Yadav – Kosi Navnirman Manch, NAPM Bihar; Faisal Khan, Khudai Khidmatgar, J S Walia, NAPM Haryana; Kailash Meena, NAPM Rajasthan; Amitava Mitra & Avik Saha, NAPM West Bengal; Bhupender Singh Rawat – Jan Sangharsh Vahini & Rajendra Ravi, Madhuresh Kumar – NAPM, Delhi