Dumka, Dec. 6: Armed with bows and arrows, thousands of villagers fought a pitched battle with the police here to protest the arrest of four activists at the forefront of an ongoing agitation against two power plants that are coming up in the region, dealing another blow to the already strained ties between industry and the rural populace of Jharkhand.
While one villager, identified as Sibram Soren of Saraikhani, was killed allegedly in the police firing that followed, five others were injured. Three policemen were also hurt.
Villagers opposed to the land acquisition drive for the two power plants in tribal-dominated Kathikund and Shikaripara blocks, both around 25km from the district headquarters, were protesting against the recent arrest of Munni Hansdak, Charan Kumar, Hopna Baski and Rajcharan Murmu, activists of Jharkhand Ulgulan Manch, at the centre of protests against land acquisition for the plants.
As per an MoU signed in 2005 when Arjun Munda was chief minister, two 1,000MW power plants were to be set up — one by CESC of the RPG Group of Calcutta at Pokharia in Kathikund block and the other by Jindals at Amgachi under Shikaripara block.
With the beginning of land acquisition, the two blocks have seen widespread protests under the banner of the manch that vows to protect villagers' ancestral property. Villagers allege Munni, a popular leader in the area, was falsely implicated by the police and arrested along with three others on November 26.
To protest the arresting, the manch activists along with Manjhi Baisi (bodies of traditional village heads) today called for offering arresting in the large numbers. Security measures have been beefed up, especially at Kathikund.
Trouble started around 1.30pm when thousands of villagers, including women and children, began surrounding the Kathikund police station from a radius of 3km. They threatened to court arrest if the four manch activists weren't released. The police, however, asked the villagers to move the Rampur-Kathikund road, some 3km away, and court arrest there. This infuriated the already agitated mob and they started attacking the police station with traditional weapons.