#India-Jharkhand: Muffling dissent #Aparnamarandi #Dayamanibarla


 

MANOB CHOWDHURY 

Aparna Marandiwith her son in Ranchi after Frontline-, Dec 2012

JHARKHAND is leading from the front to shackle the many democratic people’s movements which have raised their voices against private mining and land acquisition in the State. In an unprecedented move, the State police, in late November and December, arrested several civil rights activists who have been leading the anti-mining struggle with the support of displaced tribal people

On December 8, Aparna Marandi, a long-time Dalit rights activist who has exposed many scams, including the high-profile Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme scam, and has led many demonstrations against land acquisition, was arrested on false charges, some activists say. Aparna, along with her infant son and three other activists, was arrested for her involvement in two different protests, the first of which was held six years ago and the second on November 30.

In custody, Aparna and the other activists were allegedly forced to sign forged documents and were presented before a magistrate only on December 10.

In a similar incident on November 24, the police arrested prominent anti-mining activist Xavier Dias and five of his colleagues for their alleged role in leading a protest against the Tata’s iron ore mine in Noamundi in the West Singbhum district of the State 21 years ago.  These are the latest in a spate of arrests, starting with the booking of another civil rights activist, Dayamani Barla. She was leading a protest against land acquisition in Nagri village near Ranchi on October 16 when she was detained in connection with a six-year-old case. Her bail plea has been rejected thrice by the Ranchi High Court.

The arrests were noticed only when they started to happen in an orchestrated way in the space of a month and for no immediate reason. The Jharkhand government has not made any statements so far. However, as of now, these arrests look like a witch-hunt against prominent activists of the State.

Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta

 

#India- Why is Aparna Marandi in jail?


In 2009, they branded her husband a Maoist and threw him in jail. Now they are after her. Shazia Nigar on the blatant witch-hunt of a rights activist
Shazia Nigar

December 21, 2012, Issue 52 Volume 9

Victims of the State Aparna Marandi with her 4-year-old son AlokVictims of the State Aparna Marandi with her 4-year-old son Alok Photo Courtesy: Video Volunteers

ON 8 DECEMBER, Aparna Marandi, 28, and her four-year-old son Alok Chandra boarded a train at Ranchi’s Hatia Railway Station to go to Hyderabad, when plainclothes policemen arrested her. Ironically, Aparna was headed for Hyderabad to attend a meeting organised by the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP).

Aparna, working with Video Volunteers, an organisation that trains marginalised communities in journalistic skills, was arrested by the Jharkhand Police along with Baby Turi, 25, panchayat head of Jitpur in Dhanbad district, social activist Sushila Ekka, 38, from Hazaribag and 16-year-old Sushil. Charged with being Maoists, all were hauled to the Dumka Police Station.

On the evening of 10 December, the police let Baby Turi, Ekka and Sushil go, but not before they signed a document stating that they were arrested on 9 December, a day later than the actual date of arrest. Aparna, however, is still languishing in the Dumka prison.

Why was Aparna arrested? Why was the date of arrest of the other three people changed? What made Aparna and her four-year-old child such a threat that the police had to come in plainclothes to arrest her?

Many questions arise as to the real intent of the Jharkhand Police. The answer could perhaps be found in the four-year-long incarceration of Aparna’s husband, Jeetan Marandi. Jeetan is the State Convener of the CRPP, the same organisation whose meeting Aparana was going to attend before she was apprehended.

Jeetan was arrested in 2009 for his alleged involvement in the infamous Chilkari massacre, when Maoists killed 20 people, including the son of former Jharkhand chief minister Babulal Marandi during a football match. Sentenced to death by the lower court in Jharkhand, he was later acquitted by the High Court in December 2011. Yet, thanks to the Jharkhand Crime Control Act (2002), a non-bailable provision used for preventive detention, Jeetan continues to languish in jail for the fourth straight year on various charges. Aparna had been working relentlessly to get her husband released.

Says Stalin K, Managing Trustee at Video Volunteers: “The reason for picking her (Aparna) up seems to be a way of breaking Jeetan to get a false confession out of him. It is embarrassing for the State if they have no charges to prove against him after he has spent four years in jail.” The lawyer from Dumka, who Stalin tried hiring for Aparna, refused to take up her case on the grounds that he will get into trouble. That, says Stalin, is the impact the State has.

The police have detained Aparna in a case, where Maoists set fire to 8-10 vehicles of a crusher site of GVR Constructions on 27 November at Kathikund, Dumka. She has been charged under several sections, including section 17 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act and section 13 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

However, a phone call gives the lie to the police theory that Aparna and her companions were arrested on 9 December. Minutes before the arrest, Baby Turi, one of the arrested, made a phone call to her husband, Damodar Turi. “She called me on 8 December, at around 4 pm, and told me that the ticket collector was not letting them board the train. After that, her phone was switched off,” recalls Damodar.

ACCORDING TO Baby Turi, the policemen posing as railway ticket examiners asked Aparna and her friends to get off the train with their luggage since they were travelling without reservation. They then led them out of the railway station, which is when Baby Turi got suspicious and called her husband.

“They asked us to sign a document, saying we were going to meet Jeetan in jail,” recalls Baby. “We refused. Finally, they agreed to let us go if we signed on the paper that stated 9 December as the day of our arrest.” Moreover, the police violated all laid out procedures in the detention of Aparna and her friends.

Director General of Police, Jharkhand, GS Rath refused to comment on the grounds that the matter was “subjudice” and concerns the Dumka Police, not him. “The conduct of the police is for the court to judge,” he says. SPHemant Topna spoke along similar lines. “No one has formally complained about the irregularities in the arrest procedures,” he says. “If such a thing comes to my notice, we will investigate it.”

shazia@tehelka.com

 

#India- FREE APARNA MARANDI , Human Rights Violation by Jharkhand Police


PLEASE SIGN ONLINE PETITION  BELOW  SHARE WIDELY

http://petitions.halabol.com/2012/12/15/free-aparna-marandi-and-her-4-year-old-son

aparna1

URGENT APPEAL*

*| India |, 11 December 2012*

Aparna Marandi, her four year old son Alok Chandra, Satish (16 years old)
her distant relative and her two friends Baby Turi and Susheela Ekka were
picked up the police on 8th December. The manner in which they were picked
up, interrogated and detained, are in clear violation of all established
procedures and rules. Aparna was forced to sign a confessional statement on
the basis of which she has been taken away to Dumka prison. All of them
were mistreated and mentally tortured during this unlawful interrogation.

Earlier in the day I and my colleagues at Video Volunteers, Anand Hembrom
and Tania Deviah, spoke at length with Baby Turi and her husband Damodar
Turi. Their detailed narration of the last 3 days (below) gives us enough
evidence of grievous human rights violation by the Jharkhand police :
illegal detention, violation of arrest guidelines, forceful confession,
intimidatory and abusive interrogation, threatening to seriously hurt and
kill.

Given that this is not an isolated incident, and marks a pattern of
silencing rights activists who challenge repression and exploitative
‘development’ projects , we must take strong and urgent action on this
matter. I urge you all to take this matter up in your respective individual
or collective capacities to ensure justice to all affected.

*Backstory:*

Aparna Marandi is the wife of cultural activist Jeetan Marandi. Jeetan was
a composer and singer and  sang about poverty, starvation, corruption,
oppression – realities of life in some of the most marginalized regions in
the country. The state reacted to his activism with draconian force and
incarcerated him. Despite being acquitted by the Jhakhand High Court,
Jeetan continues to languish in prison. It has been four long years since
he was arrested.

Since Jeetan’s arrest, Aparna has been indefatigable. With her son in her
arms, she would go from courts to police stations to government officers to
conferences to rallies in the streets in an effort to secure justice for
Jeetan. She is one of the most outspoken voices for human rights and
justice in grassroots Jharkhand.

Baby Turi is the Mukhiya (village council head) of Jitpur panchayat in
Tundi block, Dhanbad district of Jharkhand. Damodar Turi, a well known
human rights activist specifically working against displacement and forced
eviction, is Baby’s husband. Damodar is also accused of being a ‘Maoist
sympathizer’ and has baseless cases slapped on him since the last four
years.

*Baby Turi’s Statement [Given on 11 December]*

On 8th December 2012, I along with  Aparna Marandi , her four year old son
Alok,  Sushila Ekka and Satish Kumar were to take a train from Hatia
railway station to go to Hyderabad to attend the Rajnitik Bandi Rihayi
Samiti (Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners) meeting. At 4pm,
while we were still sitting in the train and waiting for it to move, we
were approached by plain clothed police officers. They told us that they
were Railway Ticket Examiners and that we needed to be interrogated for
traveling on unconfirmed tickets. We were all were made to remove our
luggage and get out of the train. They asked us why we are going to
Hyderabad. Aparna said she is attending the meeting as her husband is a
political prisoner. ‘I will try everything I can to get my husband out of
jail because he is innocent’, she said.

From the railway station we were moved to the CBI office in Ranchi where we
were interrogated about our links to Maoist groups. They kept throwing
names at us but we did not know any of those people. We said that we have
no links or connections with any Maoists group or person. Through out that
questioning they used foul language and kept cursing. Their whole approach
was to scare us, intimidate and to make us to accept their charges and
allegations.

At 10.30 pm on the same night (8th December 2012) they moved us to the
Women’s station in Ranchi. They kept us in the lockup room. We were given
very little food and after demanding it several times. They did not even
give some biscuits to Alok. They used abusive language and wouldn’t allow
us to use the toilet. They said we were faking the urge to use the toilet
because we wanted to walk around.  That night we slept in the lockup room
with one male guard outside. The guards took turns to keep an eye on us.

Next morning, on  9th December, Aparna was called out individually. They
started asking her about her connection to Maoists. They cursed her and
threatened her a lot. The poor thing was very scared. Aparna was asked to
sign a document stating that she was part of group who set a company’s
dumper (truck) on fire in Dumka and in the shoot out in Khatikhund. Aparna
was forced to sign it. She told us later that she had no choice but to sign
it because she felt her life ws in danger. The camera that you (Video
Volunteers) had given her was confiscated. They asked us to us to sweep the
lock up and do things like this. They weren’t giving us food. We told them
that we’ll give them money, just buy us some food! Aparna had picked up the
broom but we told her to drop it. Are we sweepers?

I overheard the police officer talking to her superiors on the phone. She
said ‘we have captured four Naxals and we are taking good care of them
Sir.’ Although it was a women’s police station, there were many CRPF men
guarding both the inside and outside the station. Through that day we were
photographed many times by the police.

When the media persons came, there was more tension. They told us we had
informed the media and that we were lying that we hadn’t contacted anyone.
We know that many activists in Ranchi and elsewhere were calling the SP to
know about our whereabouts and that the SP said that he doesn’t know about
any such arrests. All that time we were in the lock up.

Sushila too was interrogated. ‘How come people from different districts are
here together’, they asked. We explained that we knew each other since
Jeetan and Damodar were arrested under false charges in 2008.

They asked me if I knew about a CRPF camp near my village. I said yes. They
asked if I knew about the murder of a landlord there. I said no. They said,
‘how come you don’t know about it when you are the Mukhiya of the village’.
I said that I was not the Mukhiya (village council head)  at the time of
that killing. The police woman accused me of wining the election with the
support of the Maoists. They were trying very hard to make us accept that
we are Maoists.

Only women police officers were interrogating us. But CRPF men were all
over the station. They even accompanied us even when we went to use the
toilet.

On the evening of the 9th I and Susheela and Satish were asked to write and
sign a document stating that we were taken in for interrogation with Aparna
Marandi and were released without harm and that the police had not
misbehaved with us. We were asked to write that we had gathered in Hatiya
railway station to meet Jeetan Marandi. But we refused to write that part
because this was not true. Jeetan Marandi has been in jail for 4 years so
how can we have gone to meet him at the railway station?!  We protested
vehemently. We insisted that we will only write the facts and they
relented. However, they made us write that we were picked up for
questioning on the evening of the 9th. We told them that we want to put the
actual date which was the 8th. But they started cursing us again and even
threatened to kill us and so we relented to this and allowed them to put
the date as 9th .  We wrote and signed that statement because the three of
us were totally scared for our lives.

That night we were again made to sleep in the lock up. We were not allowed
to contact any our relatives nor did they inform any of our relatives of
our whereabouts or charges on us.

The following day, on 10th of December, at about 11am Aparna was taken away
to be produced before the magistrate in Ranchi. We came to know later that
she was taken to Dumka jail from there.

One police officer wanted the three of us to also a sign the confession
document of Aparna Marandi wherein she was made to write that she was
involved in the two incidents of Maoist attack. We started worrying badly.
Just then another police officer told her that the 3 of us need not be
added to Aparna’s. ‘We’ll slap some other case on them’, she said.

At 4pm on 10th December , Sushila, Satish and I were released. We don’t
know what will happen next. We just know that they have taken our photos
and our signatures on this document. We don’t know how Aparna is doing.

*Damodar Turi statement:* *[Given on 11 December]*

I am the State Convener of the Visthapan Virodhi Janvikas Andolan (People’s
Campaign against Displacement). I have charges under UAPA and under section
17 and 18 CRPC Act filed against me since 24th June 2008.  No FIR was made.
No information was given to me or anyone about this. That night at 9pm,
police surrounded my office in Ranchi and arrested me. Police officers from
5 stations were present, about 100 police men.  They started beating me in
the office itself. They beat me in the vehicle on the way. In the station
they beat me in various ways, kicks, slaps, with sticks. Then they took me
to Lalpur Police Station and began third degree torture. They kept throwing
names of Moist leaders at me and asked me how I knew them. I said I don’t
know any of them and that my work is against displacement and for the
development of Adivasis and Dalits. ‘So you are against all the companies
that want to come to Jharkhand is it”, they asked me. I said that my work
is to secure the rights of the marginalized people. They then asked me how
I met various activists and leaders and where we get funding from. I showed
them receipts of how people donated small funds to the movement. They did
not listen. They confiscated the cash in my office and claimed that it was
“levy ka paisa” (money collected as levy*). I felt upset and protested that
this is not levy money. They tortured me more and made me sign a statement.
The same night they moved me to the Muffosil police station. They
threatened me that they will kill me in an encounter. I told them who I was
and and what my work was and that this fact will not change no matter how
much they tortured me. I told them to go ahead and kill me in an encounter
if they want.

The next morning they took me to a press conference. At first the hall was
empty. Then they took me out of the room and when they brought me back in,
on each of the tables they had laid out *Lal Chingari* pamphlets, alongside
brochures of my organization. Lal Chingari is the pamphlet brought out by
the Moists. I tried to protest and told the press who I am and that the Lal
Chingari pamphlets were not mine. SP (Superintendent of Police) MS Bhatia
told the media persons gathered there that the Lal Chingari were recovered
from my office. The fact is that they did not find any such thing on me or
in my office. This was the only evidence they produced to prove that I am a
Maoist. The press then wrote both sides of the story.

This is the context under which my wife’s recent arrest plays out. In the
biggest democracy in the country, there is a lot of suspicion against the
Adivasi and Dalits. A lot of us are targeted as Maoists and Naxals. We have
no forum to voice our sorrow. There is a report stating how 100s of
Adivasis have been jailed with such charges. All the armed operations
against Maoists have targeted defenseless Adivasis and Dalits in this
state. That is the systematic attempt of the Government. My wife and her
companions are being treated this way because they are Dalits. If they were
women from upper class or upper caste families, I don’t feel they would
have been looked at with such suspicion.

My wife and others were detained illegally. They were picked up police men
in plain clothes, they had no name tags, there were no women police at that
time. This is a blatant violation of law and laid down procedures. They
were not told the reason of their arrest. They weren’t allowed to use the
toilet and were mentally tortured. They were not given adequate food and
had to fight for it. They police used abusive language. They were detained
for more than 24 hrs and were not produced before a Magistrate. The police
kept talking about their connection to Maoist leaders. There were threats
to beat kill them.

Stalin K.DirectorVideo Volunteers – Empowering CommunityVoices

Community Journalist, Aparna Marandi, son Alok, 3 more Untraceable after Arrest/Detention by Jharkhand Police


On December – 10 – 2012, VIDEO VOLUNTEERS

Since the evening of 8th December, 2012, community journalist Aparna Marandi and her 4 year old son Alok Chandra have been untraceable since their detention by the Jharkhand Police at Hatiya Railway Station, Ranchi, Jharkhand. Aparna and her son were  arrested along with their companions Baby Turi, Headwoman of Jatipur Panchayat, Sushila Ekka, social worker and 14 year old Satish, a relative of Aparna.

The women were preparing to board the Tejaswini Express to Hyderabad to participate in a public meeting on the eve of the International Human Rights Day. When the police were moving in on them, Baby Turi managed a quick phone call to her husband, Damodar Turi. The police were dressed in plainclothes, she said. Despite the fact that the detainees were women and children, no policewomen were present at the scene.

Once the news got out over the internet and local newspapers, concerned friends and acquaintances have been desperately trying to contact the victims. Their cell phones are ringing but there has been no reply. Attempts to contact the police and government officials have so far been unsuccessful. It is approaching 48hrs since the women and children have been missing but so far the police has denied this arrest.

Aparna Marandi is the wife of cultural activist Jeetan Marandi. Jeetan was a composer and singer of the songs of the people’s movements in Jharkhand. He sang about poverty, starvation, corruption, oppression – realities of life in some of the most marginalized regions in the country. The state reacted to his activism with draconian force and incarcerated him. Despite being acquitted by the Jhakhand High Court, Jeetan continues to languish in prison. It has been four long years since he was arrested.

Since Jeetan’s arrest, Aparna has been indefatigable. With her son in her arms, she would go from courts to police stations to government officers to conferences to rallies in the streets in an effort to secure justice for Jeetan. She is one of the most powerful voices for human rights and justice in grassroots Jharkhand.

Listen to a recording of her voice on August 11th, 2012 (http://www.cgnetswara.org/index.php?id=13006) in which Aparna questions if India is indeed independent. “I look in all the four directions and I see that ‘independence’ is just lip service. I cannot see any signs of ‘rights’ and ‘freedoms’… It is the very people who work for society who are put in jail. My husband is one such example,” she says. Aparna is an outstanding, outspoken, empowered citizen of the country.

In the light of these events, the Jharkhand police’s action is tantamount to ‘kidnapping’. Coming on the heels of the arrests of many activists and social workers like Dayamani Barla, it reveals a disturbing trend in which the state of Jharkhand would seem to resort to any deplorable violation to silence voices of non-violence and dissent.

In November 2012, Aparna was trained in community media by Video Volunteers and she had joined our IndiaUnheard Community News Service as a correspondent from Girdhi district of which she is a resident. Aparna is a colleague and a compatriot.

In these confusing times we live in, it is a voice like Aparna’s that speaks the ground realities, the truths, the words that need to be said. They need to be acknowledged not silenced.

We condemn the police and the state’s actions and dumbfounding silence as unconstitutional, unlawful, illegal and anti-democratic. We stand in solidarity with Aparna, Baby and Susheela. We hope for the well being of the two young boys Alok and Satish.

Help free Aparna by repeatedly contacting Jharkhand DGP, G.S.Rath on the following numbers.

Office No.           – 06512400737, 06512400738

Residence No     – 06512234755

Fax No.               – 06512400738

Mobile No.         – 9934315260, 9431115260

  • Demand that he tell you the whereabouts of Aparna, Alok, Baby, Susheela and Satish.
  • Demand that they be produced before a magistrate.
  • Demand that the police officials responsible for this unconstitutional detention be suspended.