In a major security breach, several supporters of the Pathalgadi movement entered the high security zone around Jharkhand High Court on Monday in Ranchi to install a stone plaque stating that the State Government does not hold any executive power in the scheduled areas, the names of which the plaque carried.
“The executive power of the State of Jharkhand does not extend to the scheduled area, therein, there is no right to freedom for the general public in these scheduled areas,” the stone plaque, of the size of a dining table top, stated.
The plaque carried names of 12 districts – Ranchi, East Singhbhum, Lohardaga, West Singhbhum, Gumla, Latehar, Saraikela Kharsawan, Sahebganj, Dumka, Pakur, Jamtara and Simdega – which the Pathalgadi supporters wanted to declare as scheduled areas beyond the jurisdiction of the government of Jharkhand.
“The Pathalgadi supporters were stopped half way through. The plaque was not installed, and they were not allowed to go anywhere close to the high court,” said Superintendent of Police (City), Saurav.
Eyewitnesses said that around 100 Pathalgadi supporters, mostly from Ranchi, Khunti, Gumla and Lohardaga districts, entered the high security zone on Monday to install the stone plaque. Police said that they wanted to install the stone plaque at Ambedkar square, which is at a stone’s throw from the Jharkhand High Court.
While the Pathalgadi supporters could not install their stone plaque on Monday at Ambedkar square, they have said that they will meet Governor Droupadi Murmu on Tuesday and handover a memorandum to her highlighting their demands.
Pathalgadi, a tribal custom of installing stone plaques and other writings at the border of villages to demarcate the area, drew the attention of the State government in 2017 after a few plaques restricted entry of administration and police in villages and declared them as liberated zones. The former BJP-led government had decided to tackle the issue with an iron fist and lodged FIR against several hundred Pathalgadi supporters.
However, soon after coming to power in 2019, Chief Minister Hemant Soren had announced to withdraw all cases against Pathalgadi supporters in Jharkhand during the 2017 movement.
During the Pathalgadi movement of 2017, several thousand villagers carrying traditional bows and arrows gathered around the stone plaques in the bordering areas of their villages. There were several face-offs between the administration and Pathalgadi supporters during the period. Some supporters of the movement had reportedly held a few policemen hostage demanding release of their fellow Pathalgadi supporters from jail.