Tribals in Kharsawan block of Seraikela-Kharsawan district purified a martyr’s column on Saturday after chief minister Raghubar Das’ supporters and security personnel allegedly stepped on the site with their shoes on January 1, this year.
Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) legislators in Kolhan division led the purification march.
Every year on January 1, tribals pay homage to tribal martyrs who sacrificed their lives in 1948 protesting against merger of Kharsawan princely state with then Odisha.
Several thousand women and men in traditional tribal outfits marched towards the Kharsawan Shaheed Sthal, led by Seraikela MLA Champai Soren, Kharsawan MLA Dashrath Gagrai and Manoharpur MLA Joba Manjhi. Tribals on fast, took got da (holy water) in earthen pots from Sona river and their respective villages. They marched around six kilometres and reached the Shahid Sthal. Diuries (tribal priests) performed jate parchi (purification) of the site and gave diri dul sunum (homage) to the martyrs, followed by general public
The Aadi Sanskriti evam Vigyan Sansthan had organised the purification programme to maintain the auspicious spirit of the Shaheed Sthal. They alleged that purity of the site was lost as people in shoes had stepped into the site on the Kharsawan martyrs’ day.
Several thousand tribals turned violent on January 1 when the CM was paying homage at the site. The CM’s security was breached and tribals even threw shoes at Das. Taking action over the incident, the deputy commissioner and superintendent of police were transferred from the district.
Kharsawan MLA Dashrath Gagrai said, “Local residents had announced boycott of the CM, if he tried to pay homage to the Kharsawan martyrs on January 1. The protest was called against state government’s proposed amendment to the Chhotanagpur Tenancy (CNT) Act and Santhal Pargana Tenancy (SPT) Act. However, the CM did not respect tribal sentiments, rather his supporters made the site impure while paying homage. By performing the purification programme, we made the site pure and auspicious again.”
Even as Gagrai said the government was willing to suppress the voice of tribals at gunpoint, Champai Soren said the protest against the CM would continue till the CNT-SPT Act amendment bill and domicile bill were withdrawn.
Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Ho Samaj Mahasabha vice president Mukesh Birua said, “Tribals say Raghubar Das is unacceptable in their life. The management of Kharsawan Shaheed Sthal should be handed over to the local tribals’ committee,” he added.