Protestors hurled shoes, waved black flags and damaged chairs on Sunday after chief minister Raghubar Das reached Kharsawan to pay homage to tribal martyrs at a memorial.
Tribal outfits are protesting against the Raghubar Das government’s decision to amend the Chotanagpur and Santhal Pargana tenancy acts, claiming the move will deprive tribals of their right on ‘Jal-Jangal-Jamin (water-forest-land)’.
Around 300 locals in tribals outfits with traditional weapons flocked the Sahid Sthal before Das reached to pay homage to the people killed in police firing on January 1, 1948 while protesting merger of Kharsawan with princely state with Orissa.
Agitators under the banner of Adi Sanskriti Evm Vikas Sansthan closed the gate to prevent Das from entering into the site. At the programme venue, they damaged chairs, hurled shoes and raised slogan of ‘Mukhyamantri Vapas Jao (CM return back)’. With black flags in their hands, the agitators led by JMM legislator Dashrath Gagrai stopped Das at the gate for few minutes. Somehow the district administration managed to escort Das inside the memorial.
The programme to felicitate four members of a martyr’s family was cancelled due to agitation. “It was a stage-managed protest. This is an example of bad and mean politics. I condemn the incident,” Das later told reporters.
Gagrai alleged the district administration used force to let Das pay homage at the memorial. The CM has taken decision against interests of tribals and his homage to the martyrs was not acceptable, he added.
BJP leader Barkunwar Gagrai, who was present with Das, demanded action against the agitators for obstructing a government programme. “Agitators, led by the Kharsawan MLA, have dishonored the martyrs by protesting against the CM. It was Das who provided compensation for the first time to the martyr’s family members after 47 years. The agitation was politically motivated and such acts should not be tolerated,” Gagrai said.
Later on, JMM leaders paid homage to the martyrs. Protest against Das will continue as he follows anti-tribal approach, local legislator Dashrath Gagrai said.
After Independence, Raja Ram Chandra Singhdeo, the then king of Singhdeo in Kharsawan, had planned to merge his state with Orissa but tribals were against it. Locals had taken took out a protest march towards the palace when the police firing killed more than 25 tribals.