In his first decision after taking charge as the chief minister of Jharkhand, Hemant Soren has decided to drop sedition cases against hundreds and thousands of people.
These cases were part of what is known as the Pathalgadi movement. Basically, Pathalgadi translates into planting a stone. Stone plaques and signboards were erected across more than 200 villages in the state in 2017 and 2018. These stone orders dismissed the authority of the central and the state governments in their villages while expressing faith in the constitution and recognising the Gram Sabha as the only authority.
The protest was against land tenancy laws which allowed for the acquisition of tribal land for development projects. The previous BJP government led by Raghubar Das led a crackdown on the tribal's who were part of the Pathalgadi movement with nearly 170 people being charged with sedition. Those cases have now been dropped.
Jharkhand has 28 seats reserved for the scheduled tribes. The BJP had won 11 tribal seats in 2014. But in the recent elections, it managed to win just 2 seats and this was a key reason for the ouster of the Raghubar Das government.
To discuss this CNBC-TV18 spoke to Supriya Sharma, executive editor at Scroll.in.
Sharma said, "This is a very significant decision. What Hemant Soren essentially wants to do is send a clear signal that his government is sensitive to the concerns of Jharkhand's Adivasi communities. These communities felt very alienated under the Raghubar Das government which tried to push through amendments to the Chota Nagpur Tenancy Act and the Santhal Pargana's Act, these are laws which protect the land rights of Adivasi cultivators. It is essentially these amendments that gave the spark for the Pathalgadi movement."