News Wrap


Pathalgadi is a decades-old tribal protest in Jharkhand state, which seeks autonomy for gram sevaks. It rejects the law of the land, as well, as government rights over their forests and rivers. As part of their movement, Pathalgadis erect a stone plaque or signboard outside the village, declaring it sovereign territory, and prohibiting entry of outsiders. The decapitated bodies of seven Christian Murmu tribals were found strewn deep inside Saranda forest of Jhartkhand's West Singhbhum district, late on 21 January 2020, bolstering suspicion of a feud between two local groups over reviving the Pathalgadi tribal autonomy movement. The erstwhile BJP-led government had dealt with the movement with an iron hand. The supporters of the Pathalgadi movement kidnapped the seven men, aged between 24 and 35, on 19 January 2020, and killed them in retaliation for their opposition to the move, to revive the tribal stir. A panchayat representative was among those massacred. The place of the killings is over 175 kms from the state capital Ranchi. The villagers were killed with the help of lathis and axes.

The Pathalgadi movement had hit the national head lines in the middle of 2019. On 19 June 2019, five NGO workers were allegedly abducted and gangraped, by armed men associated with the Pathalgadi movement. They were performing a street play at a school in Khunti district of Jharkhand, when they were targeted. The raiders had branded the NGO workers as 'dikus' (outsiders). On 26 June 2019, another group of armed Pathalgadis had abducted three security personnel, posted at the former BJP MP Karia Munda's home in Khunti. They were later released. The Pathalgadi groups have been active across for districts of Jharkhand, namely Khunti, Gumla, Simdega and West Singhbhum. All of them are Maoist-infested districts.

Amaravati Scam
In Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh state), some of the poorest in India's Andhra Pradesh state, has been shown as owners of tracts of land worth crore of rupees. About 797 white ration card holders, each with a monthly income less than Rs 5,000, bought lands worth Rs 220 crore in Amaravati, in 2014 and 2015. Many of the land owners did not have Income Tax, Pan cards and paid no Income tax. After Telengana was carved out of Andhra Pradesh in 2014, the then TDP Government had announced that Amaravati would be the new capital of bifurcated AP, and pooled 33,000 acres of land in the region, next to Vijawada. The YSRCP government which came to power in 2019, decided to have three separate capitals, with Amravati having only the assembly, and all government offices shifting to Visakhapatnam. A case of cheating and criminal conspiracy arises from holders of white nation cards, being shown as landowners. Huge cash transactions took place in purchasing the lands. There is possible money laundering in the land deals. Almost all the 797 white ration card holders, bought 761 acres in the Amravati capital region, are residents of Guntur.

Ethnic Unity In Tibet
There are more than 40 ethnic minorities in Tibet, accounting for 95% of Tibet's over three million populations. The Tibet region's population has grown from 1.23 million in 1959 to 3.44 million in 2018, with Tibetans accounting for over 90%. The People's Congress of Tibet on 11 January 2020, passed a legislation, which will take effect from 01 May 2020, guaranteeing ethnic unity in the territory. The new law makes it clear that Tibet has been an inalienable part of China since ancient times, and it is the common responsibility, for the people of all ethnic groups to safe guard national reunification, strengthen ethnic unity, and take a clear-cut stand against separatism. This is the first law on ethnic unity at the autonomous region level across China. The law reflects the important role of ethnic unity in the region's economic and social development. The legislation work started early in 2019, and it collected opinion from all sections of the society. The legislation considers local ethnic characteristics of Tibet. The Chinese leaders consider ethnic unity is an important goal of stable social governance in Tibet region. The move is also in line with China's constitution's provisions on ethnic unity. This is the first time, Tibet has passed a law making ethnic unity mandatory, reflecting the significant role it plays in the sensitive remote Himalayan region's economic and social development. The ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) denies there were separate ethnical political entity. About 150 Tibetans have committed self immolation since 2009, calling for the return of the Dalai Lama from his exile in India, and improvement of human rights conditions in Tibet.

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Vol. 52, No. 35, Mar 1 - 7, 2020