Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren has decided to withdraw sedition cases registered against the supporters of Pathalgadi movement, an armed struggle which dismissed the authority of state and central government and considered only the gram sabha as the real constitutional body. Cases will also be withdrawn against those who had opposed the proposed amendments in Chhota Nagpur Tenancy (CNT) Act and Santhal Pargana Tenancy (SPT) Act.
Cabinet Secretary Ajoy Kumar Singh reportedly informed that the cases related to Pathalgadi as well as opposition to tenancy laws will be dropped and the FIRs which were lodged in various police stations will be withdrawn.
Since 2017, in nearly 200 villages in Jharkhand’s four districts: Khunti, Gumla, Simdega and West Singhbum, huge stone plaques known as ‘pathalgadi’ in local language, were put up at the entry points. These stone structures, painted green, warned ‘outsiders’, especially government officials, and prohibited them from entering the villages. Essentially, they had announced that the law of the land does not apply there.
After the BJP-led government came to power in Jharkhand in 2014, Chief Minister Raghubar Das tried to amend the land tenancy laws. Tribal groups and opposition parties opposed the move. In My 2017, Jharkhand Governor Draupadi Murmu returned the bills for reconsideration and few months later in August they were withdrawn. Tribal groups believed that the new laws will undermine the rights of tribal people on forest resources and land.
A total of 19 cases of sedition were registered against over 150 people which will now stand withdrawn.