Police action against supporters of Patthalgadi movement in Jharkhand against the backdrop of the gangrape incident in Khunti led to a stand-off between the two sides on Tuesday at Ghagra village in the district. According to police, Patthalgadi supporters abducted three security guards deployed at the house of BJP MP from Khunti, Kariya Munda, at Ghagra village in Murhu block of Khunti district on Tuesday afternoon. When police started conducting raids to rescue them, they faced resistance from Patthalgadi supporters, leading to a stand-off. The stand-off was continuing till reports last came in. Additional forces have been deployed in the area.
Patthalgadi, a traditional practice among tribals in which they put up stone slabs with names of their ancestors, has of late taken the form of a protest, with Patthalgadi supporters urging people not to allow government officials and police to enter their areas. They have argued that Constitution has given them the right to maintain their own systems in Scheduled Areas. Earlier on Tuesday, policemen in large numbers reached Udburu village of Khunti block, where the properties of Yusuf Purty and some other leaders of Patthalgadi movement were attached. It is reported that the villagers helped Purty escape.
ADG (Operations) R K Mullik, who reached Khunti, told mediapersons that the police were entitled to take whatever action was required against the accused in the Khunti gangrape case and those related with the Patthalgadi movement. Subsequently, police got information that Patthalgadi supporters had gathered at Anigara village — the native village of the BJP MP. The police force then moved towards the village. Khunti SP Ashwani Kumar Sinha asked the villagers to clear the blockade. However, the villagers did not budge and police had to resort to lathicharge.
The Patthalgadi supporters then gathered at a spot in Ghaghra village and started to burn voter and Aadhaar cards. They also shouted slogans against the central and the state governments. Purty was also seen shouting slogans in purported visuals from the area.
In the meantime, some armed men reached the house of the BJP MP and abducted the three guards — identified as Subodh Kujur, Vinod Kerketta and Suyon Sureen. Efforts to reach out to the BJP MP did not yield results. The police then started carrying out raids to recover the three. Facing resistance from Patthalgadi supporters, additional forces were rushed to the spot.
On June 19, five women were abducted and allegedly gangraped in Kochang village in Khunti where they had gone to stage a street play. On June 24, the police arrested two accused on charges of rape and a Catholic priest — a member of the management of the school from where the women were abducted — for allegedly not doing enough to prevent the crime and not informing the police. Subsequently, DGP D K Pandey visited Khunti and directed strong action to be taken against Patthalgadi supporters.