Six killed in Jharkhand after police fire at farmers protesting land acquisition
Six people have been killed and at least nine seriously injured after police opened fire on farmers protesting against land acquisition in Hazaribagh district of Jharkhand. The farmers were protesting against land acquisition by the Centre-owned National Thermal Power Corporation for a coal mining project in Brakagaon. The police took Congress legislator Nirmala Devi from Barkagaon in Hazaribagh into custody, which further escalated the protest.
The Pakri Barwadih coal block belongs to the NTPC and has coal reserves of around 1.6 billion tonnes. NTPC had sub-contracted coal mining to two private firms—Thriveni Earthmovers and Sainik Coal—in 2015.
The protests have been on for the past 10 years. This is the third time the police have opened fire at the protesting farmers in the area. On August 14, 2015, six people were injured in the firing. On July 23, 2013, one farmer was killed and three were injured.
In the past two years, the farmers have resorted to digging coal by hand, selling it to traders and paying royalty to the gram sabha in protest. Mining by the NTPC is likely to ruin land in 36 villages and make it unsuitable for agriculture.
According to media reports, the police had arrived at 4 am and tried to disperse the protestors. Women, who tried to stop the police, were baton-charged. The police says they had to resort to firing at the crowd after the protestors attacked police officers. Media reports suggest that six officers also sustained injuries during the event.
Virendra Kumar, a resident of Barkagaon and member of Ekta Parishad, said that people are meeting later in the evening to discuss what to be done.