‘Khuntkatti’ law

Recently, a man was thrashed by the villagers at Besrazara Bazaar Tand, Simdega in Jharkhand and later burnt alive in presence of police.

Key Facts

  • The man was burnt alive for allegedly cutting trees illegally and selling them in market, which is considered as violation of ‘Khuntkatti’ law.
  • According to villagers, the deceased was warned at least twice during Gram Sabha meetings. He was asked to stop cutting the trees, but he did not listen to the warnings. Thus, villagers decided to teach him a lesson.

What is Khuntkatti system?

‘Khuntkatti’ system is joint ownership of land by tribal lineage. Under the system, Munda tribals usually clear the forests and make the land fit for cultivation. The cultivable land is then owned by whole clan and not a particular individual.

History of Khuntkatti system

This system was replaced with the Zamindari system by 1874, with the advent of the British and the outsider-Zamindars. This caused indebtedness and forced labour among the tribals. As a result of indebtedness, Munda tribal started to revolt against British rule, under the leadership of Birsa Munda.

Impact of the revolt

Birsa Munda movement impacted the government attitude towards their problems, on ground level. Government conducted surveys and settlement operations for them, during 1902 and 1910 to achieve this purpose. Finally, government decided to abolish the compulsory begar system and passed the Tenancy Act of 1903. The Tenancy Act of 1903 recognised the Mundari Khuntkatti system. Government also passed Chotanagpur Tenancy Act in 1908.



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