Jharkhand: CM Hemant Soren orders SIT probe after ‘Pathalgarhi supporters’ kill 7 villagers

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Pathalgarhi is a name given to a tribal protest which seeks autonomy for village sabhas. In pic: Security personnel patrol the area of Ghagra village (File/PTI Photo)

Chief Minister Hemant Soren Wednesday ordered a Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe into the killing of seven villagers allegedly by supporters of the "Pathalgarhi" movement in West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand.

The decision to order an SIT probe was made by Soren at a high-level meeting with Director General of Police (DGP), and other top officers, ANI reported. "The government doesn't give the right to anyone to take law in their hands. Lots of rumours are being spread but govt will take strict and unbiased action," ANI quoted Soren as saying.

Earlier in the day, police said supporters of the 'Pathalgarhi' movement, armed with lathis and axes, kidnapped seven villagers and later killed them for allegedly opposing their stir on Tuesday night.

After an overnight search operation, bodies of the seven villagers were recovered from the forest, 4 km from the village, Inspector General of Police (Operation) Saket Kumar Singh said. The place is over 175 km from the capital Ranchi. A panchayat representative was among those massacred, Singh said.

After holding a meeting over the 'Pathalgarhi' movement in the village on Tuesday, a dispute arose between the villagers and the supporters, following which the seven villagers were killed, Singh said.

Condemning the incident, BJP president J P Nadda formed a six-member committee, including five tribal MPs of the party, who would visit the scene of the crime and submit a report on it within a week.

Soon after being sworn in as the chief minister on December 29 last, Hemant Soren had announced his decision to withdraw all sedition cases registered during the Pathalgarhi movement and protests against the amendments to Chotanagpur Tenancy Act (CNT Act) and Santhal Paragana Tenancy Act (SPT Act).

Pathalgarhi is a name given to a tribal protest which seeks autonomy for village sabhas (Gramsabhas). Those demanding Pathalgarhi want no laws of the land be applicable to the tribal people in the area. The Pathalgarhis reject government rights over their forests and rivers. As part of the movement, Pathalgarhis erect a stone plaque or signboard outside the village/area, declaring the village as sovereign territory and prohibiting the entry of the outsiders.