Supporters of an alleged tribal militant group, Pathalgadi, in Jharkhand on Tuesday abducted three policemen posted as guards at the ancestral home of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Kariya Munda in Khunti district.
Pathalgadi supporters raided the house of Khunti MP and former Lok Sabha deputy speaker Munda following an early morning operation by the police at their village to arrest two leaders accused of masterminding the abduction and gang-rape of five women activists last week.
A Jharkhand Police team comprising of some 500 personnel had gone to Udbhuru village, some 55 kms from the state capital Ranchi, to conduct a raid to nab Pathalgadi leaders Yusuf Purty and John Jonas Tidu, reported Hindustan Times.
Khunti Superintendent of Police Ashwini Kumar Sinha was quoted as saying that the Pathalgadi supporters spoiled their chances of arresting Tidu and Purty, following which they sealed their houses, reported Times Now.
Following the police raid, some 300 angry villagers attacked Munda’s house at Anigada-Chandidih and kidnapped the cops, identified as Subodh Kujur, Vinod Kerketta and Suyom Surin. They also took away their INSAS rifles. The MP was not present at the house when the attack happened.
The police raid followed the 19 June incident when the five women associated with a non-governmental organisation were kidnapped and gang-raped by six men in Khunti’s Kochang village. According to ADG Mallick, the police had nabbed two of the six men who said during investigation that the women were raped and the act filmed on the direction of Tidu.
The Pathalgadi movement is a traditional practice in which villagers use stone plaques to convey messages. Many tribal villages in Jharkhand have used the practice to claim independence from state government control. Such stone slabs proclaiming independence and banning the entry of outsiders have been put up outside settlements across Khunti, Simdega, Gumla and West Singhbhum districts.
In the past, too, police have been held captive in Pathalgadi villages, which are mostly situated in dense forest areas said to be the hotbed of rebel outfit People’s Liberation Front of India (PLFI).