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It’s eerily calm in this village, located some 40 km from Jharkhand’s capital, Ranchi. Outside the village there is a massive stone, where there is a handwritten declaration of self-rule. It’s called Pathalgadi and it’s spreading like wildfire across this poor tribal area. I am waiting, with colleagues and the media, to speak to people on what has made the village declare itself a republic. Among state government officials and the media, the whisper is that this is the handiwork of Naxals or of opium farmers. But whatever the reason, as they argue, it is definitely misguided, misinformed, and undemocratic. It must be immediately crushed.
So, why would villagers, poor and powerless, take on the might of the state? The villagers, say our local interlocutors, are not willing to talk to us. Why? They are afraid. Why? Because till now all media reports have been biased; the police are threatening them. As we wait, the news flashes that 12 &ldqu
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