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Tribals 'still dubbed' Naxals, Hemant Soren govt silent on issues raised by Stan Swamy

Counterview Desk 

Well-known advocacy group Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JJM) has regretted that even after two years, the Hemant Soren government has failed to fulfill many promises that it had made during the State assembly elections, pointing out, even today, "violence by the security forces against adivasis continues under the guise of anti-Naxal operation."
While conceding that there has been "visible improvement in the communal atmosphere", as seen in the commendable initiative of the recent bill against lynching and mob violence, and it showed a "firm commitment for the rights of migrant workers during and after the Covid lockdown", in a statement JJM said, pro-corporate amendments carried out in the land laws, land bank policy and forced land by the previous BJP government have not been reversed.

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In 2019, Jharkhandis gave a clear mandate to the Mahagathbandhan government under the leadership of Hemant Soren, against the anti-people policies of the BJP government. In the last two years, some work as per people’s expectation was done. But the government has remained silent on several core issues of the state. There has not been any significant relief and improvement in people’s daily lives.
As compared to the previous government, there has been visible improvement in the communal atmosphere in the State. The recent bill against lynching and mob violence is a commendable initiative. The government also showed a firm commitment for the rights of migrant workers during and after the Covid lockdown. Along with this, increasing the coverage of the public distribution system and pension schemes was a step in the right direction.
But there has been no difference in repressive and the anti-people attitude of the police and security forces. In most of the cases of violations of human rights, neither the victims received compensation nor action was taken against the culprits. Violence by the security forces against adivasis continues under the guise of anti-Naxal operation.
For example, on June 12, 2021, in Piri village of Latehar, security forces out on a Naxal search operation fired indiscriminately at the Adivasi youths who were going for their traditional hunting. Bramhadev Singh was shot dead by the security forces. But till date not even an FIR has been registered on the application of the Bramhadev’s wife.
The lack of commitment of the government towards the protection of human rights is also exposed by the fact that the state human rights commission, women's commission and the information commission are lying defunct.
Even after two years of the commendable announcement of withdrawal of all pathalgadi cases, they are yet to be withdrawn. Even though all the cases are of a similar nature, the government has recommended withdrawal of only 60% of the total 30 FIRs. The earlier dispensation used the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and the sedition section rampantly in false cases against adivasis, marginalised and activists.
Even now, many innocent villagers are battling with such cases. For example, many workers and farmers of Gomia block of Bokaro who were booked on false charges of Maoism and under UAPA are still struggling to prove their innocence. Sadly, in 2020, the current government also registered 86 UAPA cases.
The JMM and the Congress, in their election manifesto, had promised action towards the release of undertrials (tribals, Dalits, backward and minorities jailed in minor cases without conviction). But there is complete silence this issue too. The Hemant Soren government raised its voice against the inhuman arrest of Stan Swamy on false charges, and paid him a humble tribute after his death, but it remains silent on the issues raised by Stan.
People's anger against the amendment of land laws, land bank policy and forced land acquisition by the Raghuvar Das government was visible in the elections. The JMM and the Congress had promised to repeal the amendments made in the Land Acquisition Act, 2013 (to weaken the social and environmental impact assessment) by the previous government. Promises were also made against the land bank policy.
The manifestos also promised that the acquired land which was not used for five years would be returned to the owners. But against people’s expectation, the government has not yet taken any action in this direction. On the contrary, it is vigorously implementing the central government's pro-corporate property card scheme. The government supported the movement against the three farm laws but it remains silent on its election promise of fixing MSP for vegetables and fruits.
Given this attitude, it is not surprising that the government is not speaking a word on its election promise of scrapping anti-people and illegally implemented projects like Icha-Kharkai dam, Mandal dam and the Adani power project. It is clear that the hold of the corporate houses on the Jharkhand government remains intact. Similar to the attitude of the Raghuvar Das government, the present government is also trying to forcibly acquire land for a hydel power plant in Luguburu Pahad (Bokaro), despite the opposition of hundreds of local Adivasis.
Although the government constituted the Tribal Advisory Council as per the provisions of the Fifth Schedule, but till now the committee has neither recommended amendment of central laws in accordance with the Fifth Schedule area nor has it taken any action against the continuing violations of the rights of Adivasis. It is also worrying that even after two years of the government, PESA rules are yet to be formulated.
The increase in MGNREGA wage rate by Rs 27 by the State government in 2021 was a welcome initiative. Even in the election campaign, the Chief Minister himself talked regularly about improving the implementation of MGNREGA. But it is a matter of sadness that the nexus of contractors and corrupt officials continues unabated, as earlier, with political patronage.
There is a need to repeal the anti-Jharkhand domicile policy of the previous government
If the government really wants to provide MGNREGA employment to workers, then it will have to put a firm end to the corruption nexus. The situation is similar in some other welfare programmes too. Despite widespread undernutrition in the state, Anganwadi services have come to a standstill for almost two years. Neither is cooked food or raw ration kit regularly available, nor are take-home ration and eggs being given regularly.
Even after two years, no action has been initiated to improve the poor condition of public education and health systems. The ruling parties had promised to reopen the schools merged by the earlier government. It is also very worrying that after the second wave of Covid, malls, cinema houses, gyms, religious places etc. have been completely opened, but primary schools remain closed. Congress and JMM had promised to improve the primary health system, but hundreds of inactive health sub-centres and primary centers across the state still depict the miserable situation.
The people chose this government for the protection of Jharkhandi identity and rights. 75% reservation for locals in private sector jobs is a step in the right direction. But first of all there is a need to repeal the anti-Jharkhand domicile policy of the previous government and make a policy according to the public expectation.
The government seems to be avoiding this important issue. The decision to include Magahi, Bhojpuri, Angika and Maithili in the list of local languages for entrance exams needs to be reviewed and the block or Panchayat should be made the unit of recruitment.
Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha has been constantly raising people’s issues and mobilising people against communal and fascist forces. Mahasabha believes that in comparison to the communal and fascist BJP, the present government has done some work in favor of protection of Jharkhandi interest and people’s rights.
But the government is completely inactive on several important issues, and some of its policies are also anti-people. Despite continuous demands, the government has not established a process of regular dialogue with activists and people’s organizations. We demand that the Hemant Soren government shows firm commitment on its election promises and works towards improving people’s daily lives.

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