Maoists blast rail tracks, torch vehicles in Jharkhand

Ranchi: Maoist guerrillas early on Monday blew up a railway track in Bokaro district and torched vehicles in Giridih during a 24-hour shutdown they have called in Jharkhand to protest changes made in two land acts.

According to the police, the militants blasted the railway tracks between Chiyanki and Karmabandh railway stations leading to the disruption of rail movement. They also torched two vehicles in Giridih’s Dumri area.

Repair on the railway tracks is going on, officials said, adding that movement of more than a dozen trains was affected.

The shutdown has impacted rural parts in the state, with buses on long routes having stopped plying.

The shutdown has been called to protest amendments to the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act (CNT) and the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act (SPT) that in its revised version allows agriculture land to be used for non-agricultural purposes.

In November, the Jharkhand assembly had, amidst vociferous opposition protests, passed without discussion the amending bill to the two land Acts which were formulated to protect the rights of the tribal and indigenous people.

Enacted in 1908, the CNT Act restricted transfer of land belonging to Scheduled Tribes/Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes. However, a tribal could transfer his land through sale, exchange, gift or will it to a fellow Scheduled Tribe member and residents of his own police station area.

The SPT Act also protected the land rights of Jharkhand’s Santhal tribe who primarily inhabit six districts: Dumka, Deoghar, Godda, Pakur, Sahibganj and Jamtara.

The opposition has alleged that the government of Raghubar Das, a non-tribal Chief Minister, amended the two laws to make it easier for “crony industrialists” to acquire land in restricted tribal areas.