In his first cabinet decision, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren on Sunday withdrew all cases against those booked for sedition in the ‘Pathalgadi’ movement by the erstwhile BJP government.

The decision was taken hours after the coalition Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM)-Congress-Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) government was sworn-in earlier in the day. The ‘Mahagathbandhan’ of the three parties came to power by winning 47 seats in the 81-seat Assembly as the BJP could win only 25 seats in the recently held five-phase Jharkhand Assembly elections.

While Hemant Soren took oath as state’s chief minister, Congress’ Rameshwar Oraon and Alamgir Alam and RJD’s Satyananda Bhogta took oath as cabinet ministers.

The Raghubar Das government had registered sedition cases against Adivasis after they erected ‘Pathalgadi’, or stone plaque, declaring autonomy of ‘gram sabhas’, or village panchayats. The movement started as a protest against the amendments to Chhotanagpur Tenancy (CNT) Act and Santhal Pargana Tenancy (SPT) Act.

The movement started in 2017 and over the last two years, several villages in Jharkhand’ Khunti district have erected ‘pathal’ at the entrance, declaring that residents are governed by their own rules and all outsiders are banned. They don’t recognise any authority and don’t owe allegiance to the Constitution.

These stone plaque are also used to declare constitutional provisions for the village, various judicial orders and their interpretations.

According to reports, there are over 100 Pathalgadi villages in Khunti district.

The movement finally fizzled out after police action which included 19 sedition cases against 172 people. The police later sought permission to prosecute 96 individuals.

Activists have also alleged police brutality in various cases. 

Courtesy : DNA

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