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Sanjoy Dey, Ranchi: Two persons were killed and more than two dozen villagers were injured when police
allegedly opened fire on agitating villagers whose land was acquired by the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) in Hazaribag district’s Chirudih area in the wee hours on Saturday.
Unconfirmed report says at least five people died in the incident. About half a dozen police personnel and administrative officials were also injured when villagers attacked them to protest the firing. Two of the deceased were identified as Ranjan Kumar and Md Mehtab. They were reportedly not part the agitation but onlookers.
The villagers alleged that police first lathi-charged them to break up their agitation, and on being opposed they opened fire.
The police said it had fired in the air to disperse the protesters.
“We got confirmation of two deaths. However, the number of injured people are yet to be ascertained,” Hazaribag deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Shadeo Sau said, adding, several administrative officials and police personnel were also seriously injured in the incident.
The injured including police were admitted to Hazaribag Sadar hospital for treatment. “At least three seriously injured are being referred to the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) for better treatment,” Sau, who was present at the place of incident, told Hindustan Times.
The administrative officials including Barkagaon circle officer Shailesh Kumar and additional superintendent of police Kuldip Kumar and three others are also being treated in the hospital.
The officials and police personnel had gone to bring the situation under control but villagers allegedly attacked them.
More than 500 villagers from different villages of the Barkagaon had been staging Kafan (shroud) satyagrah for last 10 days in Chirudih area of the NTPC site. However, they become aggressive when police and administrative officials arrived and asked them to end their agitation.
The NTPC had acquired 8,056 acres of land for one of its biggest projects – the Pankri-Barwadih coal mining project in 2010. But work could not start due to the villagers demanding higher compensation, employment and rehabilitation. The agitation of the villagers intensified after NTPC reportedly initiated the mining work.
Jayant Sinha, union minister of state for civil aviation, on September 29 had come up with a rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) package to end the impasse. His proposal suggested mining be done only on land acquired “voluntarily” and on non-controversial government land.
In August, two persons were killed and 40 were injured in clashes between villagers and the police in Gola in Jharkhand’s Ramgarh.
The villagers were protesting over a power plant for which they stood to lose their homes, when the violence broke out.