Jharkhand leaders prevented from visiting firing site

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Ranchi, Oct 4 (IANS) Jharkhand opposition leaders were on Tuesday prevented by the administration from visiting the site of the October 1 police firing on villagers, who were protesting against acquisition of land for a power project.

Four villagers died in the incident.

Two former Chief Ministers Hemant Soren and Babulal Marandi, accompanied by state RJD President Gautam Sagar Rana and others, were stopped by police when they tried to reach the firing site in Hazaribagh district.

On being stopped by police, they staged dharna and then returned.

They said that they were going to meet the people facing displacement due to land acquisition. These leaders also wanted to meet the families of the four people killed in the police firing.

“The state government is behaving like a ‘Goonda’ and trying to acquire land forcibly. There should be judicial probe into the police firing. This is the second such incident within a month. There will be a shutdown in the state on October 24,” said Marandi after being prevented from proceeding further.

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On October 1, police opened fire on villagers protesting against the acquisition of their ancestral land for an NTPC power plant for coal mining. Four villagers were killed in the police action.

The coal blocks in Pankri Barwadih, Chatti Bariatu and Keredari in Hazaribagh district were awarded to NTPC in 2004 and the foundation stone was laid for mining work on November 21, 2005.

A total of 8,000 acres of land needs to be acquired for the purpose, out of which 4,000 acres belong to the ‘rayats’ or contract tillers, 2,900 acres comprises forest land and 1,200 acres is government land.

The land acquisition is estimated to hit 8,745 families, and the annual coal yield from these blocks is estimated at 13 million tonnes.

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