Saturday, March 20, 2021

India - CRPF brutality in Jharkhand villages

 It may be known that the major newspapers of the country reported in December 2020 and January 2021 that many CRPF camps are being constructed in Giridih district, which the villagers here are strongly opposing. There has also been a lot of confrontation between the villagers and the administration over this issue, with several FIRs on people and arrests.

 During investigation, it was found that the residents of this place are predominantly Adivasis living in the hilly terrain with rich natural forest and mineral resources. The Adivasiʹs right to forest, land and traditional governance systems have also been ignored by the government from the beginning. Till date, individual and community claim papers have not been granted under the Forest Rights Act 2006. Also, there is no means of employment for the local residents residing here. Qualitative medical and education completion is completely missing. The lives of these people, who are facing economic, culture and social problems, was made heel – like when the police and CRPF started the campaign against Naxalites in this area. People say that they do not know why the government is running this kind of repression on the innocent tribal villagers here, due to which they and the coming generation will have to live a life of constant fear and terror. The fact-finding team received information from villagers, including women and children from a total of 16 villages in Chingiapahari, Tesfuli, Bariarpur, Jeetpur, Banpura, Karipahari, Belathan and Taratand areas. The following information came to light:

 Rape – A case of rape by security forces was reported in Tesaphuli.

 Sexual Harassment – 7 minor girls were sexually abused by security forces in Banpura.

 Fake Encounter – A labourer was killed in a fake encounter in Dolkatta.

 Custodial Death – A resident of Jharha village in Pirtand police station area was murdered in police custody. It is to be known that this personʹs hotel was adjacent to the Pirtand police station where the security personnel visited regularly for tea and breakfast.

Custodial torture – Two youths from Taratand village were detained by the police and beaten up in SP Office, Giridih in an inhuman manner.

 A MGNREGA worker of Kariphari village was brutally beaten up by the police in custody. His mobile, bike, bank passbook and muster roll of 15 MNREGA personnel were snatched by the police. Due to this incident, 15 MNREGA workers have not been able to get 2 weeks salary till date.

 Cases of assault on women, children and innocent villagers was reported in almost all the villages. The houses of some villagers have also been ransacked. In between, the security forces have raided peopleʹs home both during the day and night. There have also been incidents of looting money and jewellery from homes. Often, crops and grains kept in homes are also destroyed during raids. There are no female police officers in this type of raids and almost during every raid, women are molested and abused.

Fake cases on innocent villagers - 6 people are still in jail in fake cases; There have been fake cases against 2 unknown people but no arrests have been made so far; and 1 person was sent to jail in a fake case who is currently out on bail. UAPA and CLA have been misused in these places and innocent villagers have been oppressed and this has created an atmosphere of fear amongst them. 

A shocking case has also come to light where a vegetable-seller in front of the Pirtand police station use to give vegetables to the police personnel on credit. When he asked for his money, the police station in-charge immediately levied false case of UAPA against the vegetable-seller. He was sent to jail and is currently out on bail.

 The fact-finding team has found that the villagers are widely opposed to setting up of the CRPF camps keeping in mind the persecution that has been perpetrated by the security forces. They say that the government is using their money to exploit them. The villagers are demanding hospitals, schools, employment and development instead of the security camps. Villagers also reported that the CRPF has forcibly built a camp in their traditional places of worship. Despite being the fifth scheduled area, permission has not been taken from the Gram Sabha to set up camp. The victims do not get any kind of legal aid in the area. Any kind of forest rights of the villagers living in the forests here, whether it is cutting firewood or picking fruits and flowers or hunting small animals has been stopped because of security forces.

 Apart from these cases, laborers in Madhuvan are also facing severe hardships. The workers say that earlier there used to be a union of labourers. The union ran hospitals to provide free treatment to all people and safeguarded their labour rights. But the union was banned by levelling false charges against them and to benefit the outsiders and exploit the local laborers. Today, all places are discussing payment of lower wages to the labourers in all places. 21 workers of a Dharamshala are sitting on a strike regarding this issue. These workers are being expelled from their jobs and have no social security. 

A cultural organisation of Giridih, Jharkhandi Aven was also banned by the government. This organization used to spread awareness about the dowry system, witch-hunting, superstition, education, etc. through its songs and plays. Today, many cultural workers are prosecuted in false cases and many are arrested.

 Keeping all these things in mind, the fact-finding team demands the following from the government:

All innocent villagers prosecuted under false charges should be immediately withdrawn and they must be released unconditionally.

The violence against those detained should be stopped immediately. The custodial death should be investigated by the independent agency according to the directions given by the Supreme Court and the National Human Rights Commission.

Being a signatory to the United Nations Declaration on Social Progress and Development, the government must fulfil its obligations towards community development. 

Under the Forest Rights Act, the government should immediately fulfill the community rights of the people on the forest. 

In a 5th schedule area, no work should be done without the consent of the Gram Sabha and government must follow the provision of PESA law.

All the victims must be given free legal aid.

Justice D.K.Base guidelines must be followed strictly.

Team Members - Tapas Chakrovarty, Prabhas Singho Roy, Samir Sen Poddar (APDR, West Bengal); Kumar Swamy (CLC, Telangana); Adv. Anup Kumar Agarwal, Adv. Raju Hembrom, Adv. Rohit Thakur, Adv. Sonal Tiwary (HRLN, Jharkhand); Rajni Kumari (Activist); Lix (Activist); Deepak Bara (Activist and Independent Journalist); Varsha Poddar (Researcher and Activist); Bhagwan Das (Activist); Sanjay Verma (Journalist, Taza Khabar); Jaideep Deoghariya (Journalist, Times of India); Mukesh (Journalist, Times of India).

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