After withdrawing its 57 hours rail blockade in Jharkhand”s Latehar district Saturday, members of Tana Bhagat tribal community met Chief Minister Hemant Soren in Ranchi who assured them that the state government would sympathatically consider their demands, a senior official said.
A delegation of Tana Bhagats met Soren at his residence and submitted a memorandum of demands to him, a state government spokesman said. The chief minister had called them for talks, the spokesman said. Describing Tana Bhagat tribals as “heritage of the state”, Soren assured the delegation that the state government would take lawful action on their demands, he said.
Tana Bhagats belong to a tribal community in Jharkhand and are followers of Mahatama Gandhi. They had staged a satyagraha (civil disobedience movement) against British in 1914 to protest imposition of taxes on them.
“Nobody will be allowed to deprive you of your rights…the state government will not only solve your problems but also work for all round development of the community,” the CM said. The spokesman claimed that the team members returned satisfied with the response of the chief minister.
Soren told the visiting Tana Bhagat representatives that the state government would address their grievances after the monsoon session of the state legislative assembly. The three-day session of the house has been called from September 18. The state government would make efforts to provide jobs to children of the community passing out from Raksha Shakti University (RSU) located in Ranchi, Soren said.
The chief minister told the delegation that the government would also help wards of the tribal community members in education by setting up hostels. The agitating tribals withdrew their rail blockade in Latehar district in the early hours of Saturday, following which services normalised, officials said.
They started the blockade at Tori station on Wednesday evening, seeking amendment of the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act — which protects the land rights of the tribals.
Several attempts to pacify the agitators over the past three days failed as the members of the tribal community sought a meeting with Soren at the protest venue.
However, after several hours of discussions with the local authorities, the agitators withdrew the blockades around 2 am on the assurance of MLA Baidyanath Ram that the chief minister would look into their demands.
The community has been demanding that the provisions of the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act be strengthened through an amendment, and its members be granted a tax waiver on any land they possessed.
Freight services resumed in the Barka Kana-Barwadih section around 4.15 am with the first goods train leaving the Tori Junction for Biratoli, Dhanbad”s divisional railway manager Anil Kumar Mishra told PTI.
Railway services were completely shut in the section for around 57 hours, and the Ranchi-bound Rajdhani Express got stuck at the Daltonganj station on Thursday, following which 930 passengers of the train had to be sent to their destinations in buses, officials said.
The agitation hit hard the coal sector as several goods trains were stranded, causing damages worth crores of rupees, they said.