Shibu Soren is an Indian politician, tribal activist, three-time member of the Rajya Sabha, and a member of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM). He has served as a member of Lok Sabha many times. He has also served as the head of the Ministry of Coal. Soren has also served as the chief minister of Jharkhand three times. In May 2018, Soren was appointed the President of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) for the tenth time. Shibu is the father of the Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren. Shibu was one of the accused in the 1975 Chirudih Massacre and the 1994 murder case of Sashi Nath Jha.
Shibu Soren was born as Shivcharan Lal Manjhi on Tuesday, 11 January 1944 (age 80 years; as of 2024) in Nimra Village, Hazaribagh District, Bihar, British India (now in Jharkhand, India). Lagatar English His zodiac sign is Capricorn. He did his class 10th at the Md. Yasin Khan High School in Gola, Hazaribagh, Bihar (now in Jharkhand). MyNeta During his school days, he lived in a hostel with his younger brother Rajaram. According to sources, Soren left education and became a wood merchant after his father passed. He did so to help his family earn money for their sustenance.
Height (approx.): 5′ 6″
Hair Colour: Salt and Pepper
Eye Colour: Dark Brown
Family & Caste
Shibu Soren belongs to a family from the Santhal tribe in Jharkhand.
Parents & Siblings
His father, Sobran Soren, also known as Sobran Manjhi, was a government school teacher and a philanthropist. He was murdered by thugs working for money lenders when Shibu was a child. According to sources, Shobaran was killed for protesting against the cruelty adopted by the moneylenders to get their money back.
His mother’s name is Sonamuni Soren (deceased). His younger brother, Lalu Soren, was a JMM politician and served as the Bokaro District President of the party for 23 years. He even contested the general election twice but lost. He passed away in 2018 due to an age-related illness. His other younger brother, Rajaram Soren, is also a politician of the JMM. He had two more brothers and two sisters.
Wife & Children
His wife, Roopi Soren, also known as Roopi Kisku, is a JMM politician. She was appointed as one of the eight vice presidents of the party in 2023. He got married to her on 1 January 1962.
The couple had three sons Durga Soren, Hemant Soren, and Basant Soren. Durga Soren was a JMM leader and a member of the Jharkhand Legislative Assembly. He passed away in 2009.
Hemant Soren was the Chief Minister of Jharkhand. Basant is also an MLA in Jharkhand and the president of the Jharkhand Yuva Morcha. His daughter, Anjali Soren, is a JMM politician.
His daughter-in-law, Sita Soren, also known as Sita Murmu, is a JMM politician and an MLA in the Jharkhand Legislative Assembly. She is the wife of Soren’s deceased son Durga Soren.
His other daughter-in-law, Kalpana Soren, is a businesswoman. She is the wife of Hemant Soren.
He resides at Sector – 1C, Bokaro Steel City, Bokaro – 827001, Jharkhand, India.
Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM)
In 1973, JMM was co-founded by Shibu Soren along with the Bengali Marxist trade union leader A. K. Roy and the Kurmi-Mahato leader Binod Bihari Mahato.
A year later, he was appointed general secretary of the party; he remained in the post till 1986. Under his guidance, the JMM continued the work for the tribals.
The JMM also started several movements to “reclaim the lost tribal lands.” The party also advocated for the creation of the separate state of Jharkhand from Bihar. Soren played a vital role in drafting policies that led to the inclusion of mainly the Other Backward Class (OBC) industrial workers to strengthen its ranks. Later, when Indira Gandhi came to power, Soren began allying with the Indian National Congress (INC). This infuriated some of the young party members who were against Indira. They later left the party and established the All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU). In June 1987, senior leaders of the JMM, including Soren, were invited to the Jharkhand Coordination Committee (JCC); however, the JMM later withdrew citing that “the collective leadership was a farce.” To pressurise the Bihar as well as the Union government to agree to the formation of Jharkhand, Shibu led the JMM in organising many protests and economic blockades in the state. In 1994, he was appointed chairman of the Jharkhand Autonomous Area Council (JAAC).
Lok Sabha & Rajya Sabha
Shibu Soren contested his first Lok Sabha elections in 1977. However, he lost the elections. In 1980, he contested the elections from the Dumka constituency independently and emerged victorious. He contested and won the 1989 general elections as a JMM candidate from the same constituency. He was consecutively elected as an MP in 1991 and 1996 as a JMM candidate from the same constituency. In 1998, he was elected to the Rajya Sabha as a JMM candidate from Jharkhand for the first time. He was elected once again as a Rajya Sabha MP in 2002. It was reported that Soren was disqualified as a Rajya Sabha MP in the same year for holding an office of profit by being chairman. He won the Lok Sabha bye-elections held in the Dumka constituency in 2002. He once again became a member of the Lok Sabha in 2004. On 22 May 2004, he was sworn in as a cabinet minister.
Later, he was appointed as a minister without portfolio. During his tenure as an MP till 2009, he served as the in-charge of the Coal Ministry three times. His first tenure was from 23 May 2004 to 24 July 2004; he resigned from the post after a court issued a warrant against him in the 1975 Chirudih Massacre case. He was made Coal Minister again on 27 November 2004. However, he left the post on 2 March 2005 to take over the office of the Chief Minister of Jharkhand. Shibu was once more handed the coal ministry on 29 January 2006, but he was asked by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to leave the post on 29 November 2006 after he was convicted by a Delhi court of masterminding his Personal Secretary Shashi Nath Jha’s murder.
He was appointed as the Leader of the JMM Parliamentary Party in Lok Sabha in 2008. He was re-elected as an MP in 2009. In the same year, he was appointed as a member of the Committee on Coal and Steel. He was appointed to the Joint Committee on Salaries and Allowances of Members of Parliament as a member in September 2009. In 2014, he contested the Lok Sabha elections from the Dumka constituency and won the elections by receiving a total of 3,35,815 votes. In October 2014, he became a member of the Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution; he remained on the committee till August 2018. On 22 June 2020, he became a member of the Rajya Sabha for the third time from Jharkhand. On 13 September 2023, he was appointed to the Committee of Labour, Textiles and Skill Development. He will remain an MP till 2026.
He contested and won the 1985 Bihar Legislative Assembly polls from the Jama (ST) constituency as a JMM candidate.
On 2 March 2005, he was made the Chief Minister of Jharkhand; however, he resigned on 11 March 2005 after he failed to obtain a majority in the vote of confidence. From 27 August 2008 to 19 January 2009, Soren once again served as the CM, but his tenure came to an end following the implementation of the President’s Rule in Jharkhand. According to sources, Soren’s family members refused to resign from their seats to pave the way for Shibu to become an MLA and fulfil the constitutional requirement of a CM to be an MLA. This was because Shibu had not contested the assembly polls as he was serving as an MP. The sources also claim that other JMM MLAs also refused to give him their seats citing that “when Shibu’s family members were not willing to give him a seat, why should they?” Hindustan In 2009, he was elected as an MLA from the Jamtara constituency. His third tenure as the CM was from 30 December 2009 to 1 June 2010. The tenure ended after the President’s Rule was implemented.
His affiliation with activism began at an early age, mainly after the death of his father. He was greatly influenced by a tribal activist named Hori, whose public meetings Soren used to attend. Hori advocated for the separation of Jharkhand from Bihar and tribal rights. Soren initially joined the movement led by Hori; however, he claimed that he never became a member of his organisation. Gradually, Soren’s influence as a tribal leader increased and he began organizing mass protests against the Bihar government for ignoring tribal rights. He also took up the task of reallocating the tribal land, given to mining companies and landlords by the authorities, to their rightful owners. It is also claimed that in the late 60s, Shibu ran a parallel government in the tribal areas of Bihar. His movement was backed by the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist). He spoke about it, in an interview, and said,
Here, we were owners of our fields but attempts were being made to dislodge us. The members of the red parties were with us, so were those of other parties. All of them wanted the people of Jharkhand to get their rights.”
He was arrested numerous times by the police due to activism. He also led the Dhankati Andolan through which he organised a mass agitation of the tribals to help them get their land back from the zamindars, which the zamindars had reportedly taken through lies and deceit. He also organised a team of Adivasis, which was tasked with protecting women, who had gone to the field of the zamindars to cut the crop, with bow and arrow. This was because the land originally belonged to the tribals and had been forcefully taken from them. The situation escalated into a law and order crisis, resulting in numerous casualties. He also asked his followers to follow decency while getting involved in the movement. He laid down rules that under no circumstances should they harm the family of zamindars or damage their personal property.
Santhal Navyuvak Sangh
In 1962, at the age of 18, Shibu Soren established Santhal Navyuvak Sangh through which he raised the issues faced by the tribals in Bihar. He also began attacking the wealthy moneylenders and soon became a fearful person. The tribals began referring to him as a “God.” Thereafter, his group began attacking non-tribals by terming them “outsiders.” The group was also responsible for the 1975 Chirudih village massacre in which 10 people, mostly Muslims, were killed. In 1975, following the implementation of the Emergency, Shibu constructed an ashram in the dense jungles of Pokhra from where he continued operating his Sangh.
1974 Kudko Double Murder Case
In April 1974, an FIR was lodged against Shibu and eight others by Bahadur Singh, who claimed in his complaint that Shibu had instigated a mob that murdered two individuals named Khirodar Singh and Chundi Singh after the duo killed a goat in Khudko village. In 1986, while all the other accused were acquitted, Soren was not. In June 2010, Soren was acquitted by a District Court in Jharkhand. Rediff
1975 Chirudih Massacre
Chirudih is a village in the Girdih district of Jharkhand. In 1975, a massacre was purportedly organised by Shibu Soren in which 10 people, out of which 9 were Muslims, were killed as they were termed “Diku” which means “outsiders.” The massacre occurred following a fierce confrontation between two groups, one comprising tribals led by Soren, and the other consisting of non-tribals affiliated with the CPI. After the killings, an FIR was lodged in the Narainpur police station in which 69 people were named, including Soren. Allegedly, Lakhindra Soren, one of the accused, stated in his final statement documented by the magistrate at Jamtara Sadar Hospital on 7 February 1975, that “Shibu Soren instructed us to retaliate against Muslims, claiming they were burning the homes of tribals, and suggested we should target them first.” In 1979, a chargesheet was filed by the cops after a thorough investigation. On 1 September 1986, court proceedings against the accused individuals. However, according to sources, Soren failed to appear before the Jamatra court for the proceedings as a result of which the court cancelled his bail and issued an arrest warrant against him. In 2004, the Jamatra court issued several summons, but Soren did not respond to it. Consequently, the court issued an arrest warrant. Thereafter, police officers were sent to take Soren into custody; however, he evaded capture by absconding. He later surrendered in front of the Jamatra court. He was acquitted of all the charges of the massacre in 2010 by a Jharkhand court. India Today
Allegations of Taking A Bribe To Vote
In 1993, Soren hit the headlines after he was accused of accepting a bribe to vote in favour of the P. V. Narasimha Rao government in the no-confidence motion. When the matter came out, he claimed immunity from any legal proceedings as he had voted inside the parliament. Later, the case went to the Supreme Court which upheld the right of Soren and the other accused of claiming immunity. However, in September 2022, the Supreme Court said that a bench of judges would look into the case once again to redefine the term “immunity.” Outlook
Murder of Shashi Nath Jha
Shashi Nath Jha was the personal secretary of Shibu Soren who was allegedly murdered on the orders of Shibu in 1994. According to sources, Jha was abducted by the loyalists of Soren from the Dhaula Kuan area in Delhi on 22 May 1994 after which he was taken to Ranchi, where he was murdered and buried in a jungle.
After Jha went missing, Amar, his elder brother, filed an FIR at the Parliament Street police station in Delhi. The case was handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) later. By August 1998, all those involved in the murder were taken into custody. Reportedly, Soren went “underground” to evade getting captured as a result of which the CBI had to search for him in Delhi and Jharkhand. He surrendered in court after a final show cause notice was issued against him. The case then began in a Special Court in New Delhi. DNA During the trial, the CBI claimed that Jha was murdered as he was aware of a secret deal between the JMM and the INC to support the Narasimha Rao-led Union government during the no-confidence motion in 1993. It also said that one of Soren’s relatives, a JMM activist, was sexually assaulted by Jha. Rediff In 2006, the court, in its judgement, gave life imprisonment to Shibu Soren along with four others. The CBI was in favour of the court awarding a death penalty to Soren for his involvement in the murder. The CBI, in its plea, presented the examples of the Parliamentary Attack in 2001 and the Rajiv Gandhi Assassination case in 1991 in which the conspirators were executed. Hindustan Times Following the sentencing, Soren appealed against the Special Court’s order in the Delhi High Court, which, in its 2007 judgement, reversed the judgement and acquitted Soren. The court also criticised the CBI for not presenting evidence that supported Soren’s involvement in the murder. Mumbai Mirror The court said,
We set aside the order of the trial court. the CBI was not able to prove that the body exhumed was that of Jha. The trial court’s order is far from convincing.”
After this, the CBI and Jha’s family members filed a petition in the Supreme Court, challenging the order of the court. However, in 2018, the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the High Court. The Hindu
Allegations of Having Ties With A Militant Organisation
In 2008, the former Chief Minister of Jharkhand Babulal Marandi claimed in an interview that Soren was in touch with the head of the Jharkhand Liberation Tigers (JLT), which was a banned organisation. Marandi, while talking about it in an interview, said,
There are several instances when extremists after being caught by the police have revealed their connections with various political leaders in the State but nothing has been done.”
After the arrest of Lorence Mundari alias Carlos, a member of the People’s Liberation Front of India (PLFI), he stated before the media that Soren was in touch with the chief of the JLT. However, in Shibu’s defence, the Chief Minister’s Office issued a statement in which it claimed that the claims were baseless and were being peddled to malign the image of the CM. The Economic Times
Calling Maoists His Brothers and Sisters
He once again hit the headlines in 2008 after he said that he considered Maoists as his brothers and sisters during an elections rally. According to sources, Soren gave the statement as he was contesting the legislative assembly bye-elections at Tamar, which was considered to be a stronghold of the Maoists. He received criticism from many politicians for his remark. India Today In an interview, Soren talked about it and said,
Nor are they cats or dogs to deserve an iron rod. Nobody has stopped the Opposition from making new friends either.”
Accused of Violating The Model Code of Conduct
Soren hit the headlines in 2014 after he was accused by rival politicians of breaking the Election Commission of India’s MCC rules. The matter came into the limelight after Soren delivered a speech during an Islamic religious occasion. It came at a time when the Jharkhand Assembly elections were to take place. The Times of India
Accused of Buying Assets & Properties From Public Money
In 2020, BJP MP Nishikant Dubey filed a complaint seeking initiation of a criminal proceeding by the Lokpal against Shibu and his family. According to the complaint, the Soren family has amassed a lot of money and property by misusing their power and stealing public money. However, the JMM later filed a plea against the complaint in a court seeking suspension of the case. Later, Dubey approached the Delhi High Court, which, in its judgement, decided not to stay the Lokpal proceedings against Soren. Deccan Herald
In 2014, Shibu Soren won the Mahanayak Award.
He owns a Toyota Qualis.
In 2022, Shibu Soren’s salary as a member of the parliament is around Rs. 2 lacs + other allowances. Zee News In the financial year 2018-2019, Soren’s income was estimated to be Rs. 11,89,940. MyNeta
Assets & Properties
- Cash: Rs. 95,230
- Deposits in Banks, Financial Institutions, and Non-Banking Financial Companies: Rs. 1,18,34,686
- NSS and Postal Savings: Rs. 11,25,000
- Motor Vehicles: Rs. 25,67,000
- Jewellery: Rs. 9,38,100
- Other Assets (a pistol): Rs. 5,488
- Non-Agricultural Land: Rs. 92,00,000
- Residential Buildings: Rs. 70,00,000
- Food: Sattu
- Beverage: Tea
- Dessert: Kacha Gulla
- He is affectionately called Guru Ji and Dishom Guruji by his followers and family members.
- Shibu said, in an interview, that his mother had to sell her jewellery after the death of his father as the family went into financial troubles because his father was the only earning member of the family. He said,
After the murder of my father, my mother somehow educated us brothers and sisters by selling her jewellery.”
- He is one of the most influential tribal leaders in India. The trial population often refers to him as God.
- In 1975, after the Emergency was declared in India, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ordered his arrest; however, he absconded. In 1976, he surrendered to the police after the DC of Dhanbad, a good friend of his, persuaded him to do so.
- After getting imprisoned in 1976, Shibu began organising Chhath for the non-tribal women in the prison itself. He started doing so after he saw a woman sing the Chhath song in prison as she was unable to celebrate it with her family due to being imprisoned. A journalist talked about it, in an interview, and said,
Shibu Soren could not understand anything after listening to the song of the woman prisoner in the jail, he asked another activist of Jharkhand movement and Jhagdu Pandit in jail about this. Jhagadu told them that the woman performs Chhath every time, but this time she is in jail for a crime, hence she is not able to perform Chhath, hence she is singing Chhath songs in great pain. Till then as a tribal leader Prashant was deeply saddened to hear the plight of a non-tribal woman. He made arrangements for the woman to observe Chhath fast in the jail itself.”
- Numerous books have been published on him. Some of them are Shibu Soren Jharkhand Andolan Ka Ek Siprahi (2015), Dishom Guru Shibu Soren (2020), and Tribal Hero Shibu Soren (2023).
- Soren is fluent in playing Nagada and Dugdugi, which he plays every morning after waking up. He said that whenever he visits a tribe, he announces his arrival by playing tribal instruments.
- Shibu follows a very strict routine. According to him, he wakes up at 4 in the morning even if he goes to sleep at 2 in the night.
- Shibu Soren does not smoke or consume alcohol. According to sources, he is a teetotaler and does not like those who consume alcohol. The Times of India In an interview, Shibu said that he was once about to beat up his uncle who refused to quit drinking even after his insistence.
- He once recounted an incident from his activism days and revealed that while having dinner in the jungle with his followers, he heard a dog bark in the distance. Trusting his instincts, he went to investigate and found that the dog was barking at the police force, who had come looking to capture him.
- He considers Lalu Prasad Yadav a good friend of his. He has claimed to have supported his candidature to the Bihar Legislative Assembly many times.
- In 2014, during a speech at a tribal election rally, Shibu Soren faced criticism from tribal members for advising against alcohol consumption. Attendees argued that Shibu’s remarks were inaccurate, highlighting that many people in their tribes depend on producing and selling brewed liquor for their livelihoods. The Times of India
- He likes to cook his food. He revealed that he prefers to eat chapati with green vegetables.
- In September 2023, Soren was admitted to a hospital in New Delhi after his health deteriorated.
- In 2024, Hemant Soren, his son, absconded before the Enforcement Directorate raided his residence.
- He is multi-linguistic and is fluent in many languages including Hindi, Bengali, Oriya, Maithili, and Santhali.
- He has a kitchen garden in his home, where he grows fruits and vegetables like papaya, cucumber, and carrots.
- In an interview, Hemant Soren said that Shibu is very strict. Whenever Shibu is at home, Hemant either stays at a relative’s house or in the guest house. He talked about it and said,
I think he is too strict. Whenever he is at home, I move over to a guest house or a relative’s place. He does not allow anyone to sleep till late or enjoy good food. Even smoking and drinking are strictly prohibited.”
- Shibu Soren loves archery and follows his hobbies of travelling and reading.
- He takes a keen interest in photography. He purchased a Polaroid camera in the early days of his political career.