Skip to main content

Jharkhand displacement: Bokaro villagers continue their five-decades-old struggle

By Rishit Neogi 

The Bokaro Grameen Raiyat Adhikar Morcha (Bokaro Rural Landowners Rights Front) organised a huge rally and general assembly in Bokaro Steel City (Jharkhand) on 10 January 2023. The rally began from Naya More after garlanding the statue of Birsa Munda. The rally, attended by displaced people from 20 maujas (a cluster of villages), culminated into a huge general assembly outside the Deputy Commissioner’s office.
The rally and the assembly was addressed by former MP from Bankura Basudeb Acharia, former MLA from Nirsa Arup Chatterji, Haldhar Mahto (general secretary, Marxist Co-ordination Committee), DC Gohain (Jharkhand Krantikari Majdur Union), Bacha Singh (Convenor, Jharkhand Jan Sangharsh Morcha) and others. The leaders demanded recognition of the rights of the villagers of 20 maujas from the government and administration.
The people of these 20 displaced maujas of Bokaro (Jharkhand) are fighting for their land rights since the last 5 decades. Generation after generation of these villages have fought against the unjust acquisition of their land by the government. Governments have changed; their villages which once belonged to Bihar are now in the jurisdiction of Jharkhand state, but their struggle rages on.

Political parties of all shades have supported the struggle of these people at some point or the other. But once in power, they have either ignored the issues of the displaced or have made it worse.
According to Arbind Kumar, youth leader of the Bokaro Grameen Raiyat Adhikar Morcha, Bokaro Steel Plant and city was built in the 1960s after acquiring lands in these areas. Hundreds of villages were displaced, and forest and community land was diverted for this mega-project.
These acquisitions happened on the basis of the draconian 1894 Land Acquisition Act. While, many villages were rehabilitated or compensated, villages of these 20 maujas who are protesting till today were left out of the process.
These villages initially received some meagre compensation but were left to fend for themselves after the plant was built. The villagers continued to live in their original villages. In 1973, the administration of the Bokaro Steel Plant declared that they don’t need the land of these villages anymore as they already had surplus land. 
But, despite declaring these lands as surplus, raiyats (landowners) from these villages like Kundori, Shibutand, Pachora, Baidmara, Basteji, Agardih, Pipratand, Mahuad etc. were never returned their legal ownership.
This is the root of their problems. While on the surface, rural inhabitants continue to live and work in these areas, their land rights are not officially recognised. As a result, new controversies keep erupting every now and then.
On 24 September 2022, 16 houses were demolished in Dhangari village for expansion of railway line by railway authorities. Protests of villagers against these demolitions were dealt with severe police repression. Railways authorities claimed that the land was given to them by Bokaro Steel administration. The people living in these houses were deemed as “illegal encroachers”.
Protestors have fought tooth and nail against this bureaucratic conspiracy and have started an indefinite strike in the village. Additionally, they have filed a legal case and continue to meet both railway and Bokaro Steel officials.
The rally and assembly of 10 January 2023 was another attempt by these villagers to raise their plight in front of the government. The fate of these villagers hangs in uncertainty. Under the banner of Bokaro Grameen Raiyat Adhikar Morcha and with support of Left organisations, they have presented a charter of demands:
  • To restore the status of these areas as villages under Panchayat system.
  • To return legal ownership of unused land to rightful raiyats according to land laws of the country.
  • To give these villagers identity proofs of income, residence, and caste certified by higher authorities.
  • To restore these villages on government maps that currently shows these areas as unoccupied.
The plight of the 20 maujas of Bokaro, their resilient struggle and reasonable demands are a lesson for the future of India. They serve as an example of the consequences of mindless urbanization at the cost of rural lands and livelihoods. This issue also reveals the complex relation between land rights and citizenship.
According to Kamaluddin Khan, committed social activist and member of the Bokaro Grameen Raiyat Adhikar Morcha, these villagers have become aliens in their own land. The government can come and demolish their houses without any due process like they did on 24 September.
Khan asked that if the railway authorities and local administration have the power to surround them with armed police, why they can’t show us the papers that were required by the law? Repeated requests by the displaced villagers to railway authorities and local administration for adequate papers and documents have not been met.
Members of the the Bokaro Grameen Raiyat Adhikar Morcha have demanded that officials who were engaged in this illegal demolition must be suspended as they have failed to show any evidence that they have followed the due process of law.



IMA vs Ramdev: Why what's good or bad for goose should be good or bad for gander

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD* Baba Ramdev and his associate Balkrishna faced the wrath of the Supreme Court for their propaganda about their Ayurvedic products and belittling mainstream medicine. Baba Ramdev had to apologize in court. His apology was not accepted and he may face the contempt of court with harsher punishment. The Supreme Court acted on a public interest litigation (PIL) moved by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

Women innovators on simple, revolutionary alternate solutions for water problems

By Proshakha Maitra, Mansee Bal Bhargava* The detrimental effects of uncontrolled population rise and accelerated change in the global climate have posed tremendous pressure on the water and sanitation. This calls all stakeholders, from both developed and developing nations, to improve their resilience and to instigate sustainability. It is more crucial than ever to optimise the use of the resources we have on hand since the world population is projected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050.

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

Alleged killing of another Bangladesh youth inside Indian territory: NHRC inquiry sought

By Kirity Roy* There was yet another incident of the killing of a Bangladeshi youth by the Border Security Force personnel attached with ‘Barthar’ BOP of ‘G’ Company of 75 BSF Battalion. In last five years several incidents of killings happened under this police station’s jurisdiction and the cases will get the award as “Not Guilty” as usual.

Modi model, Hindutva icon 'justified' alliance with Muslim League before Independence

By Shamsul Islam*  Our PM describes himself as ‘Hindu’ nationalist and member of RSS. He proudly shares the fact that he was groomed to be a political leader by one of the two fathers of the Hindutva politics, MS Golwalkar (the other being VD Savarkar) and given the task of establishing Hindutva polity in India after eradicating secularism.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Crusader for people’s causes, this Hollywood actor entered 'unexplored zones' in US

By Harsh Thakor*  Marlon Brando on April 3rd completes his birth centenary. He perished in 2004, on July 1, aged 80 years. Arguably in Hollywood Brando penetrated sensitivity and versatility at an unparalleled scale and discovered new horizons or explored path breaking zones in acting.

Nuclear power expansion: Is AEC's new, 'unrealistic' target fully backed by PMO?

By Shankar Sharma*  Another unrealistic and tall claim by Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) has been announced: India is eyeing 100 GW nuclear power by 2047, the AEC chairman  AK Mohanty   has said. A few years ago, the dream target for the Indian nuclear establishment was 275,000 MWe of nuclear power by 2050 (as per DAE document of 2008 "A Strategy for the Growth of Electricity in India”). Now this target of 100 GW nuclear power by 2047. And as at the end of February 2024, the actual nuclear power capacity was only 7,480 MWe, which formed only 1.7% of the total power capacity in the country. 

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site The article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

How huge crowd at Mukhtar Ansari funeral is comparable to BJP's 'people's court' talk

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  The massive crowd at the funeral of Mukhtar Ansari in Mohammadabad reflects the power and influence that his family wields in the area. One can't deny that he had enormous power in Ghazipur and Mau districts. But the crowd that came and chanted slogans in his favour does not exonerate him of his conviction by the court.  It is important that we understand this.