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Home / Ranchi / FIR against 214 in Jharkhand beheadings case; bodies buried under police protection

FIR against 214 in Jharkhand beheadings case; bodies buried under police protection

The police had so far maintained that the killing was result of a dispute between the pro- and anti-Pathalgadi groups in the village on January 16, which further escalated on January 19, when the seven were badly beaten up in the village gram sabha and beheaded in a nearby forests, where their bodies were found on Tuesday.

ranchi Updated: Jan 25, 2020 07:34 IST
Debashish Sarkar
Debashish Sarkar
Hindustan Times, Jamshedpur
Police have also collected blood-stained mud from the crime site, but have failed to recover the weapons that were used.
Police have also collected blood-stained mud from the crime site, but have failed to recover the weapons that were used. (HT File / Photo used for representational purpose only)

Jharkhand police on Friday has named 14 persons in the first information report lodged for killing of seven anti-Pathalgadi villagers in Burugulikera village in West Singhbhum district, a day after their bodies were buried in the village amid heavy police presence. Police said another 200 unidentified persons have been named in the FIR lodged under relevant sections of the IPC for rioting and murder.

None of the villagers including the family members of those killed participated in the burial just outside the village, said district’s superintendent of police, Indrajit Mahatha, who will supervise the eight member special investigation team constituted on Thursday night to probe the killing. The SIT was constituted after chief minister Hemant Soren’s visit to the village.

The police had so far maintained that the killing was result of a dispute between the pro- and anti-Pathalgadi groups in the village on January 16, which further escalated on January 19, when the seven were badly beaten up in the village gram sabha (a body of all villagers) and beheaded in a nearby forests, where their bodies were found on Tuesday.

Pathalgadi refers to a traditional practice among Munda tribals of erecting stone slabs (called pathals) in honour of their ancestors, to announce important decisions and demarcate boundaries of villages. In 2017, tribals in Khunti and West Singhbhum districts had started a Pathagadi movement, where stone slabs were erected declaring self-governance and prohibiting entry of non-tribals to protest against then BJP government’s attempt to acquire tribal land for development projects.

On Friday, police officials said that the first arrests in the killing could be announced on Saturday. “We have been interrogating the three persons detained in connection with the mass-killing of seven villagers in the night of January 19. We hope first results in the form of arrests may happen tomorrow,” said a SIT official said, who was not willing to be named.

The police also named 14 pro-Pathalgadi villagers as accused in the case including former village head Ranshi Budh, who is absconding. They have been named on basis of complaint by Batau Budh, father of Lomba Budh, who claimed that he saw his son being beaten, stoned and then beheaded on January 19 night, police said.

“I had gone to the meeting called by the village munda on January 19 with my son, Lomba Budh, where Lomba and eight others from our tollah (hamlet) were being questioned about an alleged attack on five houses in another tollah of the village. Suddenly the crowd of over 200 people started beating them up and everybody started running. But the crowd got hold of the seven of them and brutally beat them to death. Afterwards they dragged the bodies to the nearby jungles and beheaded them,” Batau said, in his complaint.

Police have also collected blood-stained mud from the crime site, but have failed to recover the weapons that were used. They have also not been able to trace two missing villagers, Dhusru Budh and Sukra Budh, from the anti-Pathalgadi group, missing since January 19, and two others, Roshan Barjo and Lodhra Budh, from the pro-Pathalgadi group, allegedly missing since January 16.