The Maoist-Missionary nexus supported by the opium traders misuses Patthargarhi, a sacred cultural tradition of Scheduled Tribes, as a weapon against the state. The traditional practice of Patthargarhi is being misused by the Church-Naxal extremism in Scheduled Tribe areas with the clear objective of inciting people against the state, destabilising harmony in the society, continuing illegal activities and finally inciting hatred in view of the forthcoming Assembly and Lok Sabha polls to be held in 2019.
The latest incident of Patthargarhi was noticed on April 22 in Jashpur District of Chhattisgarh bordering Jharkhand. A section of the STs installed stone pillars at Batunga, Bachhranv and Sihardand villages under Bagich Development Block misinterpreting some sections of the Indian Constitution. They claimed that “neither Lok Sabha nor Vidhan Sabha, but their Gram Sabha is supreme” and the entry of non-STs, including MPs, MLAs, government officials, police, etc is completely prohibited. Such activities were also reported from Sarguja and Bastar Districts.
Taking prompt action, the Chhattisgarh police arrested eight persons including a retired IAS officer Herman Kindo (64) and retired ONGC official Joseph Tigga on April 30. They were sent to judicial custody. Both these officials are said to be working with the Christian Missionaries after their retirements and have been involved in Patthargarhi drive in Jharkhand and Odisha also.
Patthargarhi is not merely an expression of anger by some STs against the administration following some developmental issues, it seems a well-planned conspiracy in which the Church, Naxals, Maoists, opium mafias and some other anti-India elements have come together. Its objective is not just to attract the attention of the national and international media, but to create a serious disturbance in the Scheduled Tribe Districts of the states like Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, etc which have strong Vanvasi population. The immediate target of the drive seems obviously the Assembly polls due in some states and also the Lok Sabha polls due in 2019.
The main brain behind the drive is urban Naxals, who have mobilised support from Christian Missionaries and other likeminded outfits. International support is also there. Surprisingly, the Patthargarhi drive has received unexpected support from the Centre for Science and Environment Director General Sunita Narain, who in Ranchi on May 1, said the drive should be seen in the “right perspective”. Most of the people who have been arrested in this case so far are converted Christians. The mastermind of the drive is said Vijay Kujur, who is a converted Chrisitan. He was arrested on March 19, 2018 by Seraikela-Kharsawan Police from Mahipalpur in Delhi where he was hiding at a relative’s home. He has been inciting the STs to boycott all government schemes, but he himself is an employee of the Shipping Corporation of India, a government company. FIRs have been lodged against him under Sections 153A (to create hatred among people on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, caste or community), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration), 504 (intentional insult with intent to breach peace), 506 (criminal intimidation), 120B (criminal conspiracy), 109 (abetment), 114 (abettor present when offence is committed), 117 (abetting offence by more than 10 persons), 186 (obstructing a public servant from duty), 290 (public nuisance) and other relevant sections of the IPC.