Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Villagers put up stone plaque near airport to claim land

Ranchi: Over two dozen tribals installed a stone plaque at a plot of land near Birsa Munda Airport in Ranchi on Sunday stating that the land belongs to the gram sabha and panchayati raj laws should be enforced there as per the Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension of the Scheduled Areas Act), 1996.

The land, sources said, was handed over to spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s organisation, The Art of Living, by the former Raghubar Das-led government in Jharkhand. While some media reports claimed the members of the gram sabha performed Pathalgadi, an ancient tribal custom of erecting stone slabs in memory of ancestors, police clarified the tribals were only demanding their rights as per provisions of the law.

“What they did today (Sunday) was not Pathalgadi. They were demanding the right of gram sabha over the land under PESA,” said Ranchi SP Saurav, who goes by one name.

Pathalgadi, sources said, was a similar practice, but it was slightly different from what the gram sabha members did on Sunday near the largest airport in Jharkhand. In Pathalgadi, a tribal custom of installing stone plaques at the village borders, the activists claim that the land is beyond the executive powers of the state and that rules framed by tribal bodies must prevail there.

The Pathalgadi movement resurfaced this month in the state with some tribal groups attempting to erect stone plaques near the Jharkhand High Court and also handing over a memorandum to Governor Droupadi Murmu seeking her nod to perform the custom near the Vidhan Sabha as well. The tribal protesters claimed that 13 Jharkhand districts fell in Scheduled Areas and should be therefore beyond the executive powers of the government.

02/03/21 Telegraph

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