Ranchi: Supporters of ‘Pathalgadhi’ movement, armed with lathis and axes, allegedly kidnapped seven villagers and later killed them in the West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand for allegedly opposing their stir, police said on Wednesday.
Inspector General of Police (Operation) Saket Kumar Singh said the policemen reached the Burugulikera village on Tuesday night after getting information about the killing of seven locals. After the murder, the perpetrators had dumped bodies of the victims in a forest.
A panchayat representative was among those killed, he said. After an overnight search operation, bodies of the seven villagers were recovered from the forest, four kilometres from the village, he said.
The place is over 175 kilometres from the capital Ranchi. There was a meeting over 'Pathalgadhi' movement in the village on Tuesday when a dispute had arisen, West Singhbhum Superintendent of Police Indrajit Mahata said. Following the development, supporters of the movement kidnapped seven villagers and later killed them with the help of lathis and axes, he said.
Pathalgadhi is a name given to a tribal protest which seeks autonomy for village sabhas (Gramsabhas). Those demanding Pathalgadhi want no laws of the land be applicable on the tribal people in the area. The Pathalgadhi activists reject government rights over their forests and rivers.
As part of the movement, locals erect a stone plaque or signboard outside the village/area, declaring the village as sovereign territory and prohibiting the entry of the outsiders. Expressing grief over the incident, Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren said "Law is above all and the guilty will not be spared. The police is investigating the matter."
A high-level meeting will be convened to prevent recurrence of such an incident, he said. Pathalgadhi movement had hit the national headlines in the middle of 2019.
On 19 June, five NGO workers were allegedly abducted and gangraped by armed men associated with the Pathalgadhi movement. They were performing a street play at a school in Khunti district of Jharkhand when they were targeted. The raiders had branded the NGO workers as "dikus" (outsiders).
On 26 June, another group of armed Pathalgadhi had abducted three security personnel posted at the former BJP MP Karia Munda's home in Khunti. They were released later.
The Pathalgadhi groups have been active across four districts of Jharkhand — Khunti, Gumla, Simdega and West Singhbhum. All of them are Maoist-infested districts.
Soon after being sworn in as the chief minister on 29 December 2019, Hemant Soren had announced his decision to withdraw all sedition cases registered during the Pathalgadhi movement and protests against the amendments to Chotanagpur Tenancy Act (CNT Act) and Santhal Paragana Tenancy Act (SPT Act).
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Updated Date: Jan 22, 2020 21:54:53 IST