In its first decision, the Hemant Soren government in Jharkhand on Sunday dropped all cases filed against supporters of the Pathalgadi movement in 2017 and 2018, The Indian Express reported.
The Pathalgadi movement started in 2017, when stone monoliths engraved with provisions of the Indian Constitution began to be installed in the villages of Khunti. The engravings highlighted the special autonomy granted to Adivasi areas under the Fifth Schedule of the Indian Constitution. Last month, Scroll.in became the first to report that more than 10,000 people in Khunti district were facing sedition charges for erecting the monoliths.
After the Scroll.in article was published, Hemant Soren tweeted it, criticising the Bharatiya Janata Party government of Raghubar Das. Earlier this month, the chief minister’s father and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha President Shibu Soren promised to drop the cases if his party came to power. He made the remark even though the party manifesto contained no such promise.
After the article’s publication, the state police claimed the media was inflating the number of sedition cases registered. The Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, a coalition of progressive outfits, responded by accusing the BJP government of spreading misinformation to downplay the repression of Adivasis.
The organisation on Sunday welcomed the new government’s decision, and called for more pro-people decisions. “It [The organisation] hopes that all the charges, including sedition, against villagers and activists, will be withdrawn at the earliest,” the Mahasabha added.
The alliance government of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, the Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal on Sunday also dropped cases against people booked for protesting against the previous government’s attempt to tweak the Chota Nagpur and Santhal Pargana tenancy laws.
The government ordered the creation of necessary posts for judicial officers at fast track courts in every district to deal with cases pertaining to women and children. It decided to pay all dues to Anganwadi workers and para-teachers, The Indian Express reported.