Regional parties Jharkhand Dishom Party (JDP) and Jharkhand Janadhikar Manch (JJM) have intensified agitation for a domicile policy of preference to adivasi and moolvasi - non-tribal “original inhabitants”- in recruitment to class III, IV government jobs.

The demand has resurfaced several times since 2002 when the first chief minister Babulal Marandi had withdrawn a proposal on this. JDP has announced it will go on with its plan to constitute a “domicile sena” in villages by recruiting local youth as it is not satisfied with Chief Minister Hemant Soren’s response of setting up a committee.

“It is an eyewash and cheats Jharkhandis who have been denied their rights for over half a century as part of Bihar. Madhu Koda set up a committee as CM which did nothing. In the previous government, a committee was set up under Deputy CM Sudesh Mahto in which Hemant Soren was a member, and now this third committee to bide time,” said JDP president and former BJP MP Salkhan Murmu.

JDP has announced it will burn effigies in 500 villages on December 20, 2013 and hold similar protests in 1000 villages on December 30. “Educated SC, ST, OBC youth cannot find employment, even while several departments are severely short of staff. We will mobilise these youth to form “domicile sena” in villages to demand jobs,” he said. JDP has proposed that those with proof of the last land survey, khatihaan, which will vary from year to year in Chotanagpur and Santhal Pargana divisons, and knowledge of one of Jharkhand’s nine tribal languages be the key criteria for domicile in Jharkhand.

On December 11, responding to criticism by coalition partners Rashtriya Janta Dal (RJD) and Congress over the government’s decision to start auctioning sand from riverbeds CM Hemant Soren had withdrawn the auction policy and said the right to lift and trade from riverbanks will remain with panchayats. On the same day, he announced a committee with a representative each from three main coalition partners - Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), Congress, RJD - will examine criteria for Jharkhand’s youth to get preference in government employment.

Beginning October, Sand Truck-owners’ Association had held protests against the government’s decision to start auctions to lift and trade in sand from riverbeds claiming it would benefit companies from outside Jharkhand. Several Congress and RJD ministers in the government backed the protestors and criticised Mr. Soren for carrying out auctions of riverbeds in seven districts.

MLAs Bandhu Tirkey and Chamra Linda, two of seven Independent MLAs who support the government in the assembly, as well as the Akhil Bhartiya Sarna Dharmik Samajik Samanvay Samiti, a coalition of tribal youth led by Sarna religious leaders, had combined the demand of a domicile policy in government employment with rights to sand mining to tribal-majority cooperatives.

“CM should have set a time-frame to implement the domicile policy so that locals benefit. We will plan more agitations in January,” said JJP MLA Bandhu Tirkey.