Report on the state of Jharkhand on Birsa Munda Ulgulan Divas

March 6, 2018

This article appeared on Sangharsh Samvad on January 9th, 2018. It has been translated by Samik.


On January 9, 2018, on the 125th Ulgulan anniversary of Birsa Munda (Birsa Munda had declared a revolt against the British on January 9, 1895), the announcement was made to continue and accelerate united efforts of rebellion against malnutrition, hunger, the death of unorganized workers, the amendment in Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation Law 2013 in Hata, Potka, Jharkhand, the imposition of Conversion Law and the worsening state of Health Sector.

Speaking on the current political situation of the country, Kumar Chand Mardi, organizer of the Jan Sangharsh Coordination Committee and Displacement Ekta Manch, said that today a religious fanaticism is being created in the country. The new definition of nationalism is being fabricated in the country and we must continue a strong fight against it. For this, we must add more and more new people to the movements. Today, the biggest need is to establish ideological unity among people through this movement. He said that the constitution of India is the only document that can save India. We must prepare solid agenda for this.

He further said that the Ulgulan of Birsa Munda is inspiring the people’s movement in the whole country. There are thousands of displaced laborers and farmers are agitating in Jharkhand too. He said that the Jharkhand government made Jharkhand momentum for the convenience of industrialists in which they promised industrialists cheap land and cheap wages. He said that three states, including Jharkhand, were separated from Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand. These three states are full of natural resources and the government is giving full exemption to the capitalists for exploiting them. We need joint movement to fight against it.

The Raghuvar Government of Jharkhand is following on the footsteps of the Modi government with full devotion. With the development of the BJP and its governments sow the toxic seeds in name of Indianism, nationalism and Hindutva. Congratulating the capitalists – suppressing the farmers and laborers is not everyone’s development it is the development of the rich at the cost of the poor – this is the ultimate truth of the current development. The name of Hindutva and the nation – the task of upholding social inequality – progression towards imposing religious dictatorship – that is BJP’s strategy. The BJP government of Jharkhand is also working for this purpose. Considering these steps, the common people must decide their own duties.

After extensive publicity, the Jharkhand government withdrew the amendment of the CNT and SPT Act after being returned by the Governor. But the hunger of land loot is not fulfilled yet. As an alternative, the right to proper compensation and transparency in land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement (Jharkhand Amendment) Bill 2017 have been passed.

If this amendment becomes a part of the law after the approval of the President, then the compulsions of studying social impact assessments will be eliminated before acquiring lands for many projects. The list of these projects includes construction of school for college, university, hospital, panchayat building, road, pipeline, waterways and houses for poor. These projects can also be in private sector. After this amendment, it would be possible to get the land from the Gram Sabha after just having discussions with them. Before this modification, it was compulsory to complete many conditions under the Social Impact Assessment Study for all types of projects.

The permission of the Gram Sabha before the acquisition of land was inevitable. Under this study, it was necessary to conclude that the project meets the social-public purpose by an independent agency. Minimum displacement and other alternative measures of acquisition were considered for the project according to need and it was necessary to acquire land only when there was no other suitable alternative. It was also necessary to inspect and inform that there is no such vacant land already acquired from the surrounding area, in which the proposed project could have been set up. Now the above mentioned new project will get rid of all these. This step of avoiding these essential things means that the Government has no cure of the need to look at and remove the dangerous effects on the society. Whatever the public wants, the desired land has always been acquired for projects.

The fight against this destructive amendment must be continued to revert it back. Making better laws and implementing it is necessary for self-benefit. If necessary, the BJP party and its Governments, which rejects life and public opinion, must be strongly responded to in the elections, must be rejected.

This government has passed a Freedom of Religion bill, along with amendment to the Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation Act. That law has also been made with the consent of the Governor. Permission for change of religion is to be obtained from DC / DM. The person who changes religion on his free will also has to give this information to the DC / DM. Punishment could be possible if this does not happen. If the police inspector and the DC feel that the change in religion is caused by force or seduction or cheating, case will be filed. The convict will be sentenced to three years or four years’ imprisonment and a fine of Rs 50,000 would be slapped to him. This law promotes police rule and the Collector’s rule. It violates the constitutional and natural personal democratic rights of religious freedom. This is a trick to establish the dictatorship of the harsh Manu-vadi RSS-driven Hindus. This is an attack on Jharkhandi culture.

There is a conspiracy to eradicate the independent religious identity of the Adivasis and dissolve it in Hinduism. It is a diplomatic move to split the mass community solidarity of the people. Had it not been so, the demand of legal recognition of the independent non-Hindu Sarna religion of the tribals would have been considered years ago. The complaint filed by the victim would have been the only provision for lodging case. There would have been no provision to voluntarily provide information of religious conversion to the DC. Such anti-Constitutional, anti-democracy, anti-monolithic law must not be tolerated. This law must be revoked. Sarna and other unorganized religions must fight for recognition and protection.

Looking at the general public health system of Jharkhand, it seems that the government is not at all concerned about common life. The poor conditions of government hospitals often appear in the newspapers. But the government, which spends millions of Rupees on advertisements in newspapers about its successes and achievements, keeps mum on these news. Health Centers in villages have been established years ago. But the treatment has not started even after the demands from the villagers. Deaths in the hospital repeatedly denigrate the government as murderer. Jharkhand is in numerical turf state on the scale of malnutrition, infant mortality, maternal mortality etc. But the insensitive and shameless government, instead of improving the government health system, has been making efforts in increasing the GDP and making the state as one of the top destination for investments. The Jharkhand government, engaged in the frenzy of making its dream, a developed state of the bourgeoisie, is making Jharkhand a sick and skeletal state. Privatizing healthcare has resulted itself as a program to convert sick to corpse. To build a healthy Jharkhand, to save lives, there is a need to start a major health movement. Privatization is strongly opposed. The government must create a message to improve, expand, improve the health centers.

The storm of privatization and liberalization has broken down on youth and laborers. Permanent workers are being laid off heavily. Nearly every work is being done by contract workers. These contract workers are neither provided with reasonable labor rights, nor human wages worth remuneration, nor safety or proper treatment from accidents. Regularity of employment is also not guaranteed. The condition of laborers and artisans engaged in the number of two-five-ten in small undertakings and jobs is even worse. The Government Labor Department has been made inactive and ineffective. The government is rather proud of the abundant availability of cheap labor and is tempting investors. It does not feel ashamed of the inability to provide employment to the jobless, it rather feels relieved. The higher the number of unemployed semi-unemployed workers, the more compulsive work to do in the cheap and the more extreme. It will be easy for employers to make arbitrariness.

This situation must change. The employment movement of sure, long-term, respectable and adequate remuneration is necessary for making society better, just and humane. Farmers, laborers, students and young people must come together for complete, assured, humanitarian employment. There must be a movement to solve the problems of unorganized workers.

Kalyan Anand from Lok Shakti Abhiyan Odisha said that efforts are being made by the government to break the tribal movements by linking it with Maoism, which we should seriously consider. Niyamgiri Security Committee is associated with national coordination of a national mass movement which is a Gandhian organization, yet the government is declaring it a Maoist. The state repression on public welfare is becoming aggressive and we must challenge it.

Harish Chandra conducted the Ullulgayan Sabha.