A day after Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren ordered a Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe against the perpetrators behind the murder of seven tribals in Chaibasa town’s Gulikera village during the Pathalgadi movement, the Jharkhand Police have arrested three people in connection with the case.
According to a report by The Indian Express, the Jharkhand police have made these arrests on Thursday morning.
The incident took place on Sunday evening but the police, who reached Burugulikera village in Naxal-hit region in Chaibasa Tuesday, could retrieve the bodies only on Wednesday. All seven, police said, had been decapitated by their abductors.
In what transpired, 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.
The Pathalgadi movement is decades old and has resurfaced in recent years. This incident occurred days after Hemant Soren government in its first cabinet decision on December 29, 2019, dropped all sedition cases registered against the supporters of the 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Jharkhand Governor Draupadi Murmu returned the bills for reconsideration and a few months later in August, they were withdrawn.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.