MALDA: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said her government has ensured that nobody takes away lands from tribals.
Banerjee, while attending a mass wedding of tribals in Gajole area of Malda district, said that no one will be able to snatch or take possession of the lands of tribals "by any means, even money power".
"Our government has ensured that no one can grab the land of a tribal family. A tribal will be the sole custodian of his or her land in West Bengal," Banerjee said while congratulating the 300 couples who tied the knot.
The chief minister said a similar mass wedding programme will be held in the tea gardens of north Bengal in the second or third week of April.
"We will organise such mass weddings in tribal- inhabited areas of the state every year," she said.
The brides in the Gajole event were covered under the state government's Rupashree scheme, under which financially weaker families are given Rs 25,000 grant for the marriage of their adult daughter, officials said.
The chief minister also informed the attendees of the event about the new 'Jai Johar' pension scheme, under which elderly tribals who are not covered under any other pension scheme will get a monthly grant of Rs 1,000 from April 1.
Banerjee later interacted with some of the couples and also matched steps with the tribal women who were performing a traditional dance during the event.
Meanwhile, activists of the Jharkhand Disom Party (JDP) staged a demonstration close to the venue of the event, raising "go back chief minister" slogans and asserting that they do not approve such mass weddings of tribals, a senior police officer said.
JDP state vice president Mohan Hansda was detained over the incident, he said.
In February, activists of the JDP and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) had clashed and pelted stones at each other in 8 Mile area of the district at a mass wedding of tribals organised by the saffron outfit.
A policeman was injured in the incident after being hit by an arrow during the clash.
"The mass marriage organised by the VHP was being performed as per Hindu rituals. We feel that by doing so, tribals are being converted," Hansda had said.