24-hour statewide bandh tomorrow, Koda seek Centre's intervention

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Ranchi, Nov 25 (UNI) Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda today sought intervention by the Union Home Ministry for the protection of the adivasis in Assam, where at least one person was killed and 200 were injured yesterday following clashes between the tribal protestors and local people.

A statewide bandh has also been called in protest against the incident.

A high-level delegation, comprising state UPA-steering committee Chairman Sibu Soren, HRD Minister Bandhu Tirkey, Revenue and Land Reforms Minster Dulal Bhuiyan, Science and Technology Minister Chandra Prakash Chaudhury and Inspector General Reizi Dungdung reached Guwahati this afternoon.

The delegation held a meeting with top government officials of Assam at the circuit house there to take stock of the situation.

They were also scheduled to call on the Assam Governor and Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi in this regard. The delegation would return here tomorrow.

Mr Koda this morning took stock of the situation in Guwahati and wrote a letter to Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil seeking the Centre's intervention to protect the adivasis in Assam.

Deputy Chief Minister Sudhir Mahto in Jamshedpur told UNI that he had also talked to External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee urging the Centre's intervention in controlling the situation.

Mr Mahto said he would lead a peace march to Assam next month to promote peace and amity there.

In Dumka, Deputy Chief Minister Stephen Marandi condemned the incident and held that the Centre was responsible for the violence as the Assam government had already passed a proposal regarding giving Schetuled Tribe (ST) status to the adivasis and it was pending with the Centre.

Former chief minister and leader of the Opposition Arjun Munda (BJP) cancelled his scheduled trip to New Delhi and rushed to Guwahati this morning for an on-the-spot assesment of the situation.

Jharkhand Vikash Morcha (Democratic) president and former chief minister Babulal Marandi would leave for Assam tomorrow.

Before leaving for Assam, Mr Soren, also the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha president, condemned the act and held both the Centre and the Assam government responsible for the massacre.

Mr Soren said he had been supporting the adivasis' agitation in Assam, since their demands were ''genuine''.

The JMM, All Jharkhand Students' Union (AJSU) and Jharkhand People Party (JPP) had also called for a 24-hour statewide bandh tomorrow.

AJSU president Bimal Kachchap and JPP General Secretary Surya Singh Besra (former MLA) told UNI that the adivasis had been living in Assam for about 200 years and their demand for ST status was justified.

They alleged the law and order siuation in Assam was fast deteriorating and demanded the imposition of President's rule in the state.

The tribal students' union of Jharkhand alleged that yesterday's violence was a planned attack to kill adivasis in Assam, adding that the Gogoi administration was responsible for the incident.

They demanded a compensation of Rs five lakh each and jobs to the next of kin of the deceased, besides seeking dismissal of the Congress government in Assam.


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