Gang-Rape of 5 Activists in Jharkhand Was Plotted by Naxal Outfits, Say Cops

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Ranchi, June 24 The abduction and rape of five activists in Jharkhand recently was an outcome of “conspiracy and vengeance” hatched by those involved in ‘Pathhargarhi’, an exclusionist movement in tribal villages, and the Naxal outfit Peoples Liberation Front of India (PLFI), police said.

Five women working with an NGO were allegedly raped at gunpoint by a group of at least five men when they had gone to the village station to create awareness on migration and human trafficking on Tuesday.

Head of a missionary school and two other persons have been arrested in the case. “Father Alfonso Alien of the missionary school, from where the victims were abducted, and two others spotted during an identification parade were arrested last (Friday) night,” Additional Director General of Police (ADG), RK Malik told reporters. The other two accused were identified as Ajub Sandi Purti and Ashish Longo.
A news report quoted Malik as saying that the accused came to the missionary school and forcibly took the victims to a nearby forest, where John Johanas Tidu, top leader of Pathhargarhi incidents in Khunti district, was waiting with several PLFI people to “teach the activists a lesson”.

Reports had earlier this year reported on the adivasi-led Pathhargarhi movement which has taken roots in hundreds of tribal villages in several states, including Jharkhand, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh. Under the movement, villagers hold a pathhargarhi or stone installation ceremony, in which they would constitute a gram sabha, swear to boycott elections, stop sending children to government schools and vow not to enroll for any government identification, including voter IDs and Aadhaar.

Police and elected representatives are not be allowed in such villages. Even non-Adivasis have to take permission before entering Patthargarhi villages. Those who are allowed in have to pay ‘toll tax’. In some cases, a vigilante force is constituted to combat security forces, if the need arises.

Father Alfonso reportedly asked the victims to accompany the criminals and told them that they would be let off after some time. The school head, however, asked the criminals to only let off two nuns working with him, Malik said.

The ADG said Father Alfonso was duty bound to report the matter to the police, but he tried to hush it up. Father Alfonso, against whom an FIR was registered for aiding and abetting the crime, was, however, let off on personal bond after preliminary interrogation.

Four other persons have been identified in the case and they will be arrested soon, he said.

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