In recent times, land acquisition for an NTPC project had been sparking protests in north-central Jharkhand. More than 500 villagers from different villages of Barkagaon have been staging a ‘Kafan satyagrah’ at the site in Chirudih area for the past ten days.
A report by local administration has blamed two senior Congress leaders for creating unrest that led to the October 1 casualties. Former minister Yogendra Sao and his legislator wife Nirmala Devi led the protest in Chirudih area of Hazaribag, which turned violent causing grave injuries to senior police officers. Devi was arrested on October 1 but freed by the mob, which confronted police while it was returning from the spot.
The report submitted to the home department blamed that the mob attacked two government officials with axe and other weapons and injured them gravely. “They were near-dead,” it said. The administration claim police resorted to lathi charge, teargas shelling and other means before opening fire on the mob, which turned violent.
Earlier this year, Sao wrote to an NTPC contractor to sublet work to a company of which his son is the managing director. In the January letter, Sao also asked the NTPC contractor to get in touch with his son in this regard. It did not materialize.
“We are probing this angle, too, as a possible reason behind the unrest,” a source in the chief minister’s office told HT. Sao was arrested on Tuesday, but his wife is missing.
The incident spelled fresh trouble for chief minister Raghubar Das, who is pushing industrialization in the tribal state. The Chirudih firing happened when Das was in the United States seeking investment in the state, which was ranked third in a World Bank report about ease of doing business in India.
The Opposition has called for a bandh on October 24.