Jharkhand leaders visit Bihar's violence-hit village

Patna, Nov 8 (IANS) A team of Jharkhand legislators led by a minister Thursday visited Bathsara village in Bihar's Purnia district where three tribals were shot dead Nov 4 over a land dispute and demanded security for kin of those killed.

The group was headed by Jharkhand Health Minister Hemlal Murmu and included three legislators.

"We have visited the village and met family members of those killed over land dispute by some powerful people last week," Hemlal Murmu told newspersons Thursday in Purnia.

Murmu said the team will prepare a report and it will be submitted to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. "We have demanded that the state government settle the old land dispute because tribals' claims over land are genuine," he said.

He said the killings of three tribals have shocked and frightened other tribals in the village and across Purnia.

"The government should initiate measures to provide safety and security to tribals in view of the violent incident," Murmu said.

After Bihar's bifurcation in 2000, the tribal population in the state now is a little over one percent of its 10.5 crore people.

The dispute is related to a huge chunk of 80 acres of land that were illegally purchased by a man named Sitaram Yadav, though many tribals claim they too worked on the land either as 'bataidars' (share-croppers) or had acquired rights on it.

The tribals were allegedly killed by goons of Yadav.

"The tribals had been engaged in a festering dispute with Yadav over the ownership of the land for long," a police official said.