Jharkhand police made over 9,000 preventive arrests on Friday while protesters set vehicles on fire in response to a call by the state Opposition for a dawn-to-dusk bandh against the passing of Tenancy law amendments, The Indian Express reported on Saturday. Several police personnel were injured while trying to prevent a mob from destroying a local market in Sahibganj. Leader of Opposition Hemant Soren, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) leader Babulal Marandi and several Congress and Janata Dal (United) leaders were detained and released later on Friday.
The administration has said that strict action would be taken against those who perpetrated violence. On Thursday, the Jharkhand High Court had passed an order that avowed penalty for those participating in the bandh, while Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code was imposed in several parts of Ranchi city to restrict assembly of four or more people. Police used water cannons and tear gas on the protesters in some areas.
Ranchi Deputy Commissioner Manoj Kumar said, “The situation was brought under control after some time. We have got the incident videographed. We have evidence that it was the students from the hostels of the nearby St Xavier’s College and a few others from Loyola College who indulged in violent protests,” the English daily reported. He said the police were in the process of registering a First Information Report under strict sections against the students.
Opposition leaders criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party government in the state over its “dictatorial attitude” in making amendments in the tenancy laws. The BJP, however, accused the opposition of resorting to violence in the street instead of discussion in the Assembly.
Despite protests, the BJP government on Wednesday had pushed for amendments in the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act and Santhal Paragana Tenancy Act – which allow tribals to make commercial use of their land, which was banned until now. Critics have alleged that this could lead to tribals being conned by big corporate houses.