The alleged mastermind behind incidents of “patthalgadi” in Jharkhand’s Seraikela Kharsawan, Khunti and adjoining areas was arrested and sent to judicial custody, police said. The arrest comes days after Chief Minister Raghubar Das came down heavily on forces disturbing peace and constitutional sanctity in rural areas of the state in the name of patthalgadi.
Patthalgadi is a ritual of tribals to put monoliths on the grave of ancestors. The tradition has been revived as a form of protest, allegedly by some anti-social elements, to prevent the entry of police and administrative officials by putting up stone plaques outside villages. It is common in the interior villages of Khunti, Chaibasa, Simdega and Seraikela Kharsawan.
Kujur (42), the national working president of Adivasi Mahasabha and the alleged brain behind “patthalgadis” in several villages, was arrested from Delhi on Saturday. He was brought to Seraikela Kharsawan on Sunday, where he was produced in a court, which sent him to judicial custody, police said on Monday. He was posted as a general manager in Shipping Corporation of India in Kolkata, they said. According to the police, Kujur incited tribal villagers to use violent means to prevent the entry of police and administration officials into their villages and boycott the 2019 general elections.
On August 25 last year, some villagers, allegedly at the behest of Kujur, had held hostage around three dozen policemen and security personnel, including the then Superintendent of Police and the Deputy Commissioner, when they had visited their villages. Kujur was also allegedly behind the “patthalgadi” in Jamdoha and Kathgora villages of Seraikela Kharsawan, last October. So far, five cases have been registered against Kujur, including two in Seraikela Kharsawan and three in Khunti. Addressing the party’s divisional panchayat-level workers’ meet at Khunti last month, the Chief Minister had said that in the name of Patthalgadi some anti-national forces were misguiding innocent villagers. He said the government would crush such forces.