Four seats in Jharkhand have gone to election on Monday, May 6 – Kodarma, Ranchi, Khunti and Hazaribagh — and of them, there is troubling news coming from two.
In Khunti, BJP workers have been accused of distributing money to women asking them to vote for them. “This happened in Jaldega block, Booth No 97, in Khunti. BJP workers came at 5.30 am to the house of one woman who is a part of the Ekta Mahila Group. This group helps women financially. She was given ₹550. I don’t know how many other have got it. I went to the booth officer and gave it back,” says Taramani, a social activist who works in the area.
In Khunti, BJP’s Arjun Munda is fighting Kali Charan Munda of the Congress. While initially, it had seemed as though BJP had a lead, closer to the day of the election it became increasingly clear that BJP was losing its advantage.
“They must have realised they are losing. Why else would they start distributing money on the day of the election. There has been an eerie calm in the region after the incident came to light,” points out Taramani.
On the other hand, in Pakribarwadhi block in Hazaribagh, the voters have decided to boycott voting. The area has been in conflict ever since NTPC got the contract to extract coal from the area, which has the most fertile soil in the state.
Two years ago, police had opened fire on unarmed anti-mining farmers in the nearby village Badkagaon in 2016. It had resulted in at least four deaths. The farmers in the region been opposing acquisition of their multi-crop farmland for coal mines allotted to National Thermal Power Corporation since 2004. The region has been restive since then.
In the block on Sunday, May 5, a vehicle carrying coal rammed into a 50-year-old man on the motorcycle. This is one of the many such accidents which have occurred due to these over-loaded coal-carrying trucks.
“The road here has become a commercial road. These trucks overload it with coal and accidents happen frequently on that road. This happened early on Sunday. How many lives must be taken away before the government takes notice. All they care about is their coal and mining. It does not matter how many lives are lost in the process. Even women are not safe here,” emphasises Amba Prasad, the daughter of Yogendra Sao, who has been jailed for leading the farmers protests in the region.
“People are completely fed up. No one care about the accidents. The last straw was this accident. How do they make their anger and angst known? This was the only way for them,” reasons Prasad.