Police burst tear gas shells and used water canons to disperse members of the Tana Bhagat tribal community on Monday when they gheraoed the civil court in Latehar, about 110 km from the Jharkhand capital Ranchi, and brickbatted it.
The tribals locked the chamber of the principal judge for about five hours demanding the closure of the court alleging that the district administration was ignoring the constitutional provisions in vogue in the area.
The adamant agitators refused to heed to the persuasions of the district administration and police officers, who had rushed to the site, and began brickbatting injuring seven police personnel. Among those injured were a police inspector and three women constables, deputy superintendent of police Santosh Mishra said.
They also raised slogans demanding the closure of the court and blocked the roads to it leading to the police bursting of tear gas shells and the use of water canons to control the situation.
The entrance to the court had been locked by the police following intelligence reports of the agitation and police personnel were deployed to maintain law and order but the agitators forced their way into the court's premises, he said.
The protestors, activists of the Akhil Bharatiya Tana Bhagat Sangh, claimed that functioning of courts and employment and entry of outsiders in Latehar district is prohibited under the 5th schedule of Constitution and threatened to continue agitation till the government institutions, administration, police and the judiciary are handed over to them.
The district is known to be affected by naxalite activities. Latehar, a tribal district, is under the 5th schedule which prohibits or restricts the transfer of land by or among members of the scheduled tribes, regulates the allotment of land to members of the STs and regulate the carrying on of business by money-lender to them.
With the exits and roads to the court blocked by the protestors, the police helped the judges, the lawyers and the court's officers leave the court premises through the rear exits.
The protestors were finally chased away by the police in the evening and police force was deployed in and around the court premises, Mishra said.
Any casualty among the tribals was not yet known. The security in and around the residences of the judges and the court officers has been tightened, the DSP added.