Jharkhand govt trying to cover up killings of tribals for opposing Pathalgarhi movement: BJP

New Delhi, Jan 30 (PTI) The BJP on Thursday accused the JMM-led government in Jharkhand of trying to cover up the killings of seven villagers in West Singhbhum district for allegedly opposing 'Pathalgarhi', a self-rule movement.

Supporters of the movement had allegedly kidnapped seven villagers of Burugulikera in Guddi block on January 21 and killed them for opposing their stir. The mutilated bodies were recovered from a forest around 4 kilometres from the village the next day.

Following the incident, BJP president JP Nadda formed a party delegation to visit the West Singhbhum district. The delegation comprised Jaswant Singh Bhabhor (MP from Gujarat), Samir Oraon (MP from Jharkhand), Bharati Pawar (parliamentarian from Maharashtra), Gomti Saai (Chhattisgarh Lok Sabha member), Joan Barla (LS member from West Bengal) and former Jharkhand minister and MLA Nilkanth Singh Munda.

The delegation on Wednesday met Nadda and Home Minister Amit Shah and submitted the report on the incident.

Addressing a press conference at the BJP headquarters here, Oraon said the JMM-led Jharkhand government, of which the Congress is a part, 'is trying to cover up the incident.' 'The state government got into action two days after the incident and is now trying to cover up the incident to safeguard the perpetrators of this heinous crime in which innocent tribals were killed,' he said.

Oraon said the incident took place after Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren announced that all cases against 'Pathalgarhi' activists will be taken back.

The Pathalgarhi movement is a name given to a tribal protest for autonomy to Gramsabha (village council). Its proponents want no laws of the land be applicable to the tribal people in the area and refuse to accept government's rights over forests and rivers.

Its supporters carve their diktat on rocks in their areas of influence. The name 'Pathalgarhi' is derived from the practice of carving the edicts of the leaders of the movement on large stones called 'pathal' in local language, while garhi means carving.

The killings that took place days after the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha-Congress-Rashtriya Janata Dal coalition government assumed power in the state on December 29, triggered widespread outrage and CM Soren ordered an investigation by a special investigation team (SIT).

Sixteen people have been arrested in connection with the killings, according to police. PTI JTR CK