Will The Pathalgadi Movement In Jharkhand See A Revival?

Jharkhand has made headlines once again in national and international media since Jharkhand’s Assembly Poll came out on December 23, 2019, in which Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM)’s Hemant Soren was voted to power as the 11th Chief Minister of Jharkhand but this time it was no good news.

On January 22, 2020, seven people were killed by pathalgadi movement supporters for opposing pathalgadi movement. This untoward incident took place at Burugulikera village of West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand. As per report, supporters of the pathalgadi movement, armed with lathis and axes, kidnapped seven villagers and later killed them for allegedly opposing their stir.

In recent months, many Adivasi villages have returned to the Pathalgadi movement.

Inspector-General of Police, Saket Kumar Singh said the police team reached Burugulikera village on the same night after receiving information about the killing of seven natives. After overnight search operation, bodies of seven villagers were recovered from the forest, four km away from the village. Though, the place is over 175 km away from the capital Ranchi.

Flashback to a few weeks prior to the unfortunate incident when Hemant Soren took oath as CM of Jharkhand; hours after swearing-in, Soren’s Government decided to withdraw charges of sedition against 10,000 Adivasi people.

The Pathalgadi movement began in 2017 when stone plaques and signboards were placed in over 200 villages of Jharkhand. The stone orders dismissed the authority of central or state government in their villages. The stone plaques contained “orders” prohibiting outsiders from entering the villages, proclaiming allegiance to the Constitution but rejecting any authority except their Gram Sabha (village assembly).

The plaques also had inscriptions from the Panchayat Extension to the Scheduled Areas Act or PESA which the villagers used to claim their independence from the state and the central governments.

In 2018, a series of events led to the crushing down of the movement by the Raghubar Das led BJP government. Ahead of the crackdown and show of brute force in villages as Udburu, there was a sustained campaign run against the Pathalgadi movement and its supporters. The FIR under different sections including sedition (Section 124A) were also lodged against the movement’s ideologues.

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