‘Pathalgadi’ literally means carving a stone – it is an ancient tradition in the tribal communities of Jharkhand. Adivasis usually erected engraved stones to mark the birth or death of a person.
The state government of Jharkhand tried to amend the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act, 1908 and Santhal Parganas Tenancy Act, 1876 to facilitate easier land acquisition norms which however added to the problem for the tribal community. However, these amendments were withdrawn later on.
These decisions gave rise to the Pathalgarhi incidents in the tribal belt demanding implementation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006 and provisions of the Panchayats (Extension of Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA), 1996.
Pathalgadi, having its origin in a resistance movement by tribals during British rule, is a practice of raising huge stone plaques at village outskirts with warnings to outsiders not to enter and declaring the gram sabha, or village council, the only sovereign authority. Pathalgadi movement is associated with the Munda tribal community. They had started Pathalgadi by engraving these PESA provisions in all the villages of Jharkhand to increase awareness among the tribal people about their rights.