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Jharkhand govt told to implement promise to cancel Adani plant, address rights abuses

Counterview Desk
The Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, network of people's organisations and activists, reminding the new state government of the promises it had made ahead of the budget session of the Jharkhand state assembly, has demanded withdrawal of all Pathalgadi cases, calling them human rights violations, set aside the “arbitrary” land acquisition law, and cancellation of the Adani power plant.
A statement, signed by well-known Belgium-born Indian economist Jean Dreze, Bharat Bhushan Choudhary, Elina Horo, Damodar Turi, Pallavi Pratibha and Vivek, said that the state government should come up with a law against mob lynching, address malnutrition and hunger resulting from aadhaar authentication, and pass a resolution in the state assembly against CAA-NCR-NPR.

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Under the Raghubar Das-led BJP government, Jharkhand saw constant attacks on people’s rights and basic tenets of democracy - attempts to amend local tenancy laws, amendment in the Land Acquisition Act, setting up of land bank, starvation deaths, lynching, atrocities on Adivasis, Dalits, Muslims and women, state-sponsored communalism, attacks on the freedom of expression, subversion on traditional self-governance systems of Adivasis, to name a few.
The ruling parties, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), Congress and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) raised several of these issues in their election campaign. Their manifestos also included many people’s demands.
The people of Jharkhand clearly rejected the BJP and gave a decisive mandate to the coalition led by Hemant Soren, on local issues and demands. However, the government is yet to act on most of the issues flagged by the parties in their election campaigns and the promises made in their manifestos.
The budget session is set to begin from February 28. The Mahasabha wants to flag some pressing issues and demands of the state with the expectation and the government will discuss them in the assembly session and get into action.
Pathalgadi: The decision of the government to withdraw all Pathalgadi cases, right after taking office, was a welcome announcement. However, even after two months, it is yet to reflect on the ground. The fear and uncertainty amongst the Adivasis of Pathalgadi villages continue as the police and local administration are yet to act on the decision.
In addition to this, the government is silent on the massive human rights violations that took place in Pathalgadi villages and the setting up of police camps in schools, repeatedly flagged by Mahasabha.
Gram Sabha and natural resources: The silence of the government on two key demands that drove the Pathalgadi movement – implementation of fifth schedule provisions and The Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996” (PESA) – is also deafening. Both JMM and Congress promised full implementation of PESA in their manifestos.
The Adivasis clearly rejected amendments to land acquisition Act and land bank policy, brought by the earlier dispensation. We demand that the government immediately repeal both of these and adhere to their manifesto promise. Both their manifestos mentioned that the government would not allow forceful acquisition of land.
In addition, Congress promised cancellation of projects such as Adani powerplant project (Godda), Icha-Kharkayi dam (West Singhbhum) and Mandal dam (Palamu). But since coming to power, the government is silent on these issues. Thousands are languishing in jails as undertrials since years for opposing such projects or simply for being Adivasis and dalits. While both JMM and Congress manifestos mention this issue, the government is yet to act on it.
Mob lynching: While protection of natural resources and traditional governance system needs to be a top priority of the government, it also needs to check the rising communalism and mob violence in the state.
We hope the government will discuss and roll out a plan to prepare a law against mob lynching, as promised in the manifestos. The government should immediately implement the Supreme Court’s guidelines, to check lynching, in letter and spirit.
Hunger and undernutrition: One of the most pressing issues for the government should be to reduce the staggering hunger and undernutrition in the state. The government should prepare a five year comprehensive plan for this. It can start with making the Public Distribution System, social security pension schemes and maternity entitlements universal and gradual increase in the quantum of entitlements. 
The decision of the government to withdraw all Pathalgadi cases, right after taking office, was a welcome announcement. However, it is yet to reflect on the ground
Both Congress and JMM, in their campaign, repeatedly raised the issue of exclusion caused by Aadhaar-based biometric authentication (ABBA). Yet, they are silent on the need to remove ABBA from PDS and other welfare programmes. 
For reducing undernutrition, the government should immediately increase the number of eggs in mid-day meals and anganwadis. And it should act on its promise of increasing wage rate in NREGA and revive the programme from its current doldrums in the state.
CAA, NRC and NPR: The silence of the Jharkhand government on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR) is extremely disappointing. The state looks all set to roll out NPR survey from April 1, 2020.
A government that claims to represent the poor and marginalised cannot remain oblivious to the danger of NPR and NRC for people of the state. We demand that the government stop all NPR-related activities in the state.
The government should also pass a resolution against CAA and NRC in the assembly. Mahasabha and other people’s organisations will organise a dharna at Raj Bhavan on 5 March to demand that the state government immediately rejects NPR.
There are some other issues too that need immediate attention. For example, repealing the current anti-Jharkhandi domicile policy and redefining it as per the original demand of people is definitely one of them.
We hope that the coalition will always remember that people voted for them in response to the anti-people decisions, communal policies and state repression of the earlier BJP government. The Mahasabha demands that the government shows firm commitment on all the issues discussed earlier and hope that the commitment reflects in the budget and the upcoming assembly session.

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