With the goal of expanding the campaign against demonetisation in BJP-ruled Jharkhand after Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has sent a team of ministers headed by agriculture minister Purnendu Bose to look into the forcible land acquisition of around 1,500 acres in the Dalma region.
Banerjee, who stormed into power in West Bengal in 2011 riding on the success of her anti-land acquisition protests in Singur, has already said that she will continue her protest against land acquisition in any part of the country.
Senior officials of the state government said that the decision has been taken in order to put pressure on the BJP government as the villagers have been protesting against the demarcation of the Dalma eco-sensitive zone, as they alleged that the Central guidelines would leave them homeless and jobless.
Bose said that they have identified that around 3.5 lakh people, mostly tribals who reside in 236 villages in the Dalma region - considered an eco-sensitive region - who have been protesting for their land rights.
This is because Jharkhand's BJP-led government has amended the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act and the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act to allow use of agricultural land belonging to tribal people for non-agricultural purposes. Tribals say the new law will dilute their right to land.
A team of ministers, along with TMC tribal leaders of Salboni (West Midnapore) MLA Srikanta Mahata, Santiram Mahato, MLA of Balarampur (Purulia) and Manbazar (Purulia) MLA Sandhyarani Tudu, visited the region with the instructions to look into the problems faced by tribal villagers and to prepare a report based on their findings.
Based on the report, which Bose says is in the processed of being prepared, top officials will chalk out a course of action to put pressure on the BJP government. This is being seen as a push for TMC to gain prominence on the national political stage.
Banerjee said, "I will visit Jharkhand after my minister comes back. They (BJP) have said they will beat me up if I visit a BJP-ruled state. I want to see if they can even touch me."
Naresh Murmu, a tribal leader from Dalma, said: "We have faith in the TMC and we hope that their intervention will help get our land back. We have seen how Banerjee struggled for reclaiming land in Singur that had been taken forcefully by the CPI-M government."
Edited by Aleesha Matharu