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Friday, December 13, 2019

‘Should’ve shocked nation’s conscience’: Rahul Gandhi on 10,000 Jharkhand tribals booked for sedition

The former Congress president tagged a media report stating that the Raghubar Das-led Jharkhand government had slapped sedition charges on as many as 10,000 Adivasis in Khunti district for taking part in the Pathalgadi movement.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: November 20, 2019 6:40:34 pm
Pathalgadi movement, Pathalgadi movement Jharkhand, Rahul Gandhi on Pathalgadi movement, Pathalgadi movement news, Indian Express news Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. Rahul Gandhi’s remarks come just ahead of the Jharkhand elections. (File)

Quoting a report that claimed over 10,000 Jharkhand adivasis were booked for sedition in a single district between 2017 and 2018, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi Wednesday said the news should have shocked the conscience of our nation and raised a media storm.

“That any Govt. could slam the draconian “sedition” law on 10,000 Adivasis, fighting against state oppression, should have shocked the conscience of our nation & raised a media storm. But it hasn’t. Our “sold out” media may have lost its voice; as citizens can we afford to?” Rahul Gandhi tweeted.

The former Congress president tagged a media report stating that the Raghubar Das-led Jharkhand government had slapped sedition charges on as many as 10,000 Adivasis in Khunti district for taking part in the Pathalgadi movement.

In 2017-18, under the Pathalgadi movement, several stone plaques appeared outside villages in Jharkhand, declaring the gram sabha as the only sovereign authority. The movement saw a widespread protest in Adivasi areas.

With elections around the corner, some BJP leaders have said the state government’s response during Pathalgadi movement, its attempt to amend tenancy Acts and creation of land banks had hurt the party’s image among tribals.

Earlier this year, the villagers of Ghaghra, one of the 100-odd villages in Jharkhand’s Khunti district that were part of the Pathalgadi movement, decided to boycott the upcoming state assembly election as they were seen as “anti-nationals” by the government.

“They want to force development on us, but we want to be consulted first. The government says we are deshdrohis (anti-nationals), then why should we vote?” a villager had told Indian Express

A stone plaque outside Jharkhand’s Haradlama village in Khunti district. (Express photo: Abhishek Angad)

In 2018, the Pathalgadi movement took its first violent turn in Ghaghra village. On June 26 that year, angry over police raids against one of their leaders, Pathalgadi supporters in Ghaghra and neighbouring areas had held a protest.

Police later detained a few of those protesting, following which the Pathalgadi supporters abducted three guards and a policeman from the residence of Kariya Munda in Anigara. When talks failed, police had cracked down, resulting in the death of one person.

Just like the Patthalgarhi movement in Jharkhand, a few tribal-dominated villages in Maharashtra also had put up signboards announcing that laws made by Parliament or the State Assembly are not applicable in these areas.

The five-phase polling in Jharkhand begins on November 30 and ends on December 20. In 2014, BJP won 37 seats and its ally AJSU won five seats, taking the tally to 42 — one more than the majority mark. Later, six MLAs of Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) joined the BJP.

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