Jharkhand High Court on Friday granted bail to jailed activist Dayamani Barla, who has been in jail for over two months for participating in and leading protests related to land acquisition and functioning of MGNREGS.
Ms. Barla is expected to be released from Birsa jail on Saturday afternoon.
“This is of significance to our movement to save our land and water resources. This is a victory of the people of Jharkhand. Our struggle will go on,” said the award-winning activist and journalist at the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s (CJM) court.
The CJM court in Ranchi had first sent a property warrant against Ms. Barla on September 23, 2012, in a 2006 case registered against her for leading a protest march demanding that villagers be given MGNREGS job cards or given unemployment allowance in villages in Angada block in Ranchi district. At this time, Ms. Barla had led a successful protest against setting up of Arcelor Mittal’s steel plant over 11,000 acres of land in Gumla and Khunti citing Chotanagpur Tenancy (CNT) Act, which prohibits sale of tribal land to non-tribals.
She surrendered and got bail in this case but two days later, on October 19 she was arrested in a second case for leading the protest of tribal farmers, who are opposed to the Jharkhand government acquiring 227 acres of agricultural land in Nagri village, 15 km from Ranchi, for the campuses of Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Indian Institute of Information Technology and the National University of Study & Research in Law (NUSRL).
An FIR was registered against her on August 15 in the course of protests in Nagri village for “leading a group of over 100-150 farmers, who entered the plot where NUSRL and IIM had already constructed boundary walls and cultivated the land.”
On November 5, while still in jail, Ms. Barla was accused in a third case for allegedly participating in a demonstration organised by Jharkhand Dishom Party (JDM) leader Salkhan Murmu on October 4, in which JDM workers are accused of burning an effigy of the High Court. Ms. Barla had got bail in this third case earlier but both the CJM court and the district court had rejected her bail application in the Nagri case.
The agitation in Nagri continued while Ms. Barla was in jail. On December 15, over 100 Oraon adivasi farmers had organised held a half-day protest in front of the Raj Bhawan in Ranchi for Ms. Barla’s release and against the violation of CNT Act in the State.