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Pathalgadi movement back to haunt Jharkhand again

Members of the Pathalgadi movement are seizing ration, voter and Aadhaar cards from the villagers and allegedly forcing them to not to take benefits of any government schemes, officials confirmed on Wednesday.

ranchi Updated: Jun 20, 2019 14:53 IST
Debashish Sarkar
Debashish Sarkar
Hindustan Times, Jamshedpur
pathalgadi movement,jharkhand,jharkhand govt
File photo of tribal leader with traditional weapons attending the gram sabha before unveiling of the stone of Pathalgarhi in Khunti, Jharkhand. (HT File Photo )

Pathalgadi movement is once again back to haunt Jharkhand. Around 13 villages of three panchayats under Bandgaon Block in West Singhbhum district of the state have seen the movement getting active again, being led by Yusuf Purty alias Joseph Purty and Mudhu Soy.

Activists of the movement are seizing ration, voter and Aadhaar cards from the villagers and allegedly forcing them to not to take benefits of any government schemes, officials confirmed on Wednesday.

The movement opposing the Indian government and calling for self-rule by tribals in 5th schedule areas by misinterpreting the Constitution, originated in Khunti district. But it went silent after infamous gang-rape of five tribal girls – anti-trafficking activists – in Kochang village on June 19 last year.

“After getting the inputs about some criminal elements asking villagers not to take benefits of Krishi Ashirvad, Krishak Samman and other government schemes and taking away their voter, Aadhaar, and rations cards, for past 15 to 20 days, we immediately started profiling every single village in the affected area and asked the Block Development Officers (BDOs) to meet local village heads and the people to discuss the matter,” Arava Rajkamal, West Singhbhum deputy commissioner (DC) said Wednesday.

“On Monday, one such meeting was held at Bandgaon haat (weekly village market) where Manki-Mundas and mukhiyas told the Bandgoan BDO to take immediate action against such criminal elements,” he added.

“The Pathalgadi cadre have also divided the villagers in two groups, the ones who voted in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections and the ones who didn’t, saying that they were not part of India. But there was no poll boycott except in two villages where people didn’t vote on issues related to road and power but those two villages are in other part of the district. In fact, there was a high voter turnout in Bandgoan Block and booths with lowest participation registered 20-25% polling,” added Rajkamal.

The DC said this time most of the village heads, tribal heads like Manki-mundas and common people wanted change and were against Pathalgadi movement. Thus they approached the administration themselves and complained. “We are going to hold meetings with villagers every 15 days. We will not spare them,” he said.

Sashi Bhusan Samad, JMM legislator from Chakradharpur assembly segment, under which Bandgoan Block falls, said that he wanted the state government to act firmly with these Pathalgadi activists and their leaders.

“I am going to meet and request the DC and the superintendent of police (SP) Chandan Jha to act immediately and decisively. We were getting such information from the villagers and even I was advised not to hold a meeting in those villages. When I enquired with the Bandgoan BDO on my way back from Ranchi, he told me these Pathalgadi activists are forcibly depriving villagers of benefits of all the government schemes,” said Samad.

The JMM MLA further said that it was a matter of grave concern that Patthalgadi activists have divided villagers on the basis of who voted and who didn’t and have threatened social boycott of the people who voted in Lok Sabha polls.

“They have also ‘dismissed’ the mukhiyas and traditional heads like Mankis and Mundas and have appointed new Mundas, Muhiyas of their choice. It is, however, encouraging that 60-70 Mundas and Mankis attended the BDO’s meeting on Monday and demanded immediate action against them. We are also hearing that they claimed to have set up their own thanas, banks etc and luring villagers by promising train and air travel at Rs 1 and such sops,” said Samad.

First Published: Jun 20, 2019 14:53 IST