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Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren assures strict action against culprits behind Chaibasa murders, orders SIT probe

The supporters of Pathalgadi led by former Panchayat chief Ransi Budh had allegedly perpetrated the crime in which lathis and axes were used, the police officer said.

Assuring strict and prompt action against the perpetrators behind the murder of seven people in Chaibasa town’s Gulikera village during the Pathalgadi movement, Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren has ordered a Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe. The order came after he held a high-level meeting with Director General of Police (DGP), and other top officers.

Soren asserted that the government didn’t give the right to anyone to take law in their hands. He said that lots of rumours are being spread but the government will take strict and unbiased action against the culprits.

The bodies of the seven villagers which were allegedly dumped in a forest, four kilometres from the Burugulikera village in Jharkhand’s Naxal-hit region in Chaibasa, have now been recovered. This incident was allegedly a result of mutual rivalry between the two factions. The police have detained many people for questioning and have sent the seven bodies for postmortem.

Inspector-General of Police (Operation) Saket Kumar Singh said that the police had reached Burugulikera village on Tuesday night after getting information that seven villagers have been killed and their bodies dumped in a forest. A panchayat representative, James Budh was among those killed, he said.

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The Jharkhand police in a statement released stated that the authenticity of the information received is being verified. It also said that no formal murder or missing person complaint has been received, till now.”

In what transpired on January 17, some ‘Pathalgadi’ supporters had kidnapped seven villagers when a dispute had arisen during a meeting over ‘Pathalgadi’ movement at the village, informed West Singhbhum Superintendent of Police (SP) Indrajit Mahata. The incident is suspected to be a fallout of rivalry between two factions of the village, one led by former Panchayat chief Ransi Budh who is believed to be pro-Pathalgadi while the other being led by the deputy chief James Budh who was allegedly anti-Pathalgadi.

The supporters of Pathalgadi led by former Panchayat chief Ransi Budh had allegedly perpetrated the crime in which lathis and axes were used, the police officer said.

Following protocol, Jharkhand Police have deployed a heavy police force in Gulikera village. Further reinforcements have also been called for. Since it is a big tip-off, the police are taking all the necessary measures, it added.

In December last year, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren had decided to withdraw sedition cases registered against the supporters of Pathalgadi movement, an armed struggle which dismissed the authority of the state and central government and considered only the gram sabha as the real constitutional body.

Since 2017, in nearly 200 villages in Jharkhand’s four districts: Khunti, Gumla, Simdega and West Singhbum, huge stone plaques known as ‘pathalgadi’ in the 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 had tried to amend the land tenancy laws. Tribal groups and opposition parties opposed the move. In May 2017, Jharkhand Governor Draupadi Murmu returned the bills for reconsideration and a 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 stood withdrawn by the Jharkhand Mukti Morch (JMM) led by Chief Minister Hemant Soren. JMM is the ruling party of Jharkhand state with the alliance of Congress and Rashtriya Janta Dal.

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