New Delhi: Setting off alarm bells for Jharkhand administration, a tribal group in the state has created an independent area mere 35 km from Ranchi, where people are governed by their own laws and have their own system of education and income.
A media house, which reported from Khunti, Gumla and Simdega districts, claimed that tribals there are not only governing themselves, and threatening outside interference with violence, but spreading their hold to other areas as well.
This is the same place where last August hundreds of policemen, including SP and DSPs and 50 armed CRPF personnel were held hostage for over 12 hours by tribals, demanding self-rule, besides a ban on outsiders entering their villages.
The practice, known in local dialect as 'Pathalgadi', in which the tribals have put up hundreds of illegal barricades to demarcate their territories, has been a huge cause of concern for the state.
In these areas, spread across four districts and 34 villages, tribals teach their own syllabus and mostly have their own sources of income -- the mainstay of which is opium. The Indian Constitution does not apply there.
The entry and exit points of the areas are monitored all the time, the ground report claims. The visitors are allowed only after an assent from the gram sabhas.
State government officials have been quoted saying that they are aware of the situation and are planning a 'big operation' against this successionist movement. The report also expresses apprehensions that this succession is a fertile ground for Naxals, which have maintained a significant presence in Jharkhand for a long time.
The tribals in areas like Khunti, Gumla and Simdega districts have installed huge stone plaques and signboards that warn outsiders against entering, loitering or trying to settle in their territories, and have been agitating against the state ever since the Raghubar Das government was looking to amend Chhotanagpur Tenancy (CNT) Act and Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act (SPT), two age-old legislations meant to protect tribal tenancy rights.
Tribals make for 26% of Jharkhand's population.