Alleging assault by CRPF jawans, Jharkhand tribals stage protests


 

West Singhbhum (Jharkhand), October 8, 2012

Anumeha Yadav, The Hindu

 Officials say demands for removal of CRPF camps are politically motivated

Two separate incidents of alleged assault on village women by Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawans have triggered a spate of protests in the adjoining districts of West and East Singhbhum. In both areas, villagers and tribal leaders have renewed their demand for removal of the CRPF camps.

Senior CRPF and police officials said enquiries were on against the accused jawans, but termed the demands politically motivated.

On September 24, Sumati Gop (19) accused a jawan of Battalion 174 of attempting to assault her when she had gone to bathe in a stream in Salihatu village in Chaibasa in West Singhbhum. Two days later, a 15-year-old girl in Pathragoda village near Musabani in East Singhbhum accused three CRPF jawans of 193 Battalion of forcing her to strip, after which they took photographs and a video. In the First Information Report registered at the Musabani police station on September 26, the girl, a student of class IX, accused three jawans of accosting her when she stopped on her way back from her tuitions to talk to a friend Ajay Mardia from a nearby village. She says they beat Mardi and chased him away and then made her strip.

“Are these CRPF men here for our raksha [protection] or their bhaksha [to consume us]? I cannot rest till they put these soldiers in jail,” said the girl’s father.

Senior CRPF officers said the jawans of 193 Battalion intervened when they found the two adolescents in an intimate position.

“We do not want to join issue with the locals. We take very serious notice of any instance of indiscipline by our staff and we will enquire into these cases,” said Inspector General and CRPF spokesperson M.V. Rao. “The protests against the setting up of camps in these districts, however, go back prior to these incidents and some groups are utilising this for their own interests,” he said. The CRPF has initiated a Civic Action Programme (CAP) since 2010 in an attempt to “bridge the gap between the forces and the civilians.” Under this, it has been training tribal girls in batches of 30 to 60 in the “trades of security guard, house-keeping, motor driving, beautician, computer, nursing,” training 330 girls so far.

Opposition

At Chaibasa in West Singhbhum, villagers and tribal leaders opposed the setting up of a CRPF camp at an abandoned airfield on the outskirts of the town since construction began in April. The town is 40 km from the Saranda forest, the focus of last year’s anti-Naxal police operations. “They cannot set up this camp without consulting the traditional Manki Munda tribal leaders,” said vice-president of the Adivasi Bhartiya Adivasi Mahasabha (ABAM) Mukesh Birua. On October 3, over 200 policemen kept watch as thousands of Ho tribals carrying sickles, axes, bows and arrows gathered in Gandhi Maidan in Chaibasa to protest against the assault on Sumati Gop, who belongs to an OBC community. Jharkhand Mukti Morcha MLA from Chaibasa Deepak Birua was among the leaders who addressed the protest rally.

Over 100 km away in Musabani in East Singhbhum, the September 26 incident triggered a fierce protest. Santhal tribals from Pathargoda, Musabani, and 20 other villages surrounded a CRPF camp located in the town and set fire to a CRPF board. The CRPF resorted to a lathicharge and registered an FIR naming 18 villagers.

“Last year, a CRPF jawan entered a house in Harijan Basti and tried to assault a woman. We tied him to a tree and beat him. Now this,” said Kanhu Hemrom the pradhan of 70 Santhal families in Musabani. “They assault our women. They flash torchlight in our eyes and stop us on our way in and out of the village. We have lived here for years. Who are they to stop us?” said Gulai Tudu, his neighbour.

In both instances, the accused jawans have got bail from the Chief Judicial Magistrate in the cases registered at the local police station. The jawan accused in the Chaibasa incident has resumed duty. In both instances the jawans were charged under Section 354 of the IPC and have got bail. At Musabani, a senior officer from Battalion 193 spoke said on condition of anonymity that “after a preliminary enquiry, two of the three accused have been suspended.”

(Some names have been changed to protect identity)

 

Press Release- Development and Governance are just words on paper in Bihar


English: Nitish Kumar

Image via Wikipedia

Patna, January 27 : ‘Development’ and ‘Governance’ was the poll plank for Nitish Kumar which brought him to power for Second term in Bihar. But what is the reality on ground ? Lokshakti Abhiyan on its fifth day in Bihar reached Patna after travelling through five districts of North Bihar. In Patna the Abhiyan attended a big public meeting at the Kargil Chowk next to historic Gandhi Maidan. The meeting on issues of urban poor organised in the wake of new slum policy in Patna was organised jointly by twelve organisations of Bihar under the banner of National Alliance of People’s Movements including Jhuggi Jhopdi Sangharsh Morcha, Jhuggi Jhopadi Morcha Samiti, Ashray Adhikar Abhiyan, Ekta Parishad, Nidan, Seva Kendra, Vanchit Samaj and others.

Later they marched to the CM’s residence breaking the Sec 144 since Nitish Kumar’s government refused to meet the delegation due to scheduled appointments with the officers of all the districts. However, later he sent a message saying that he is unwell and sent his Secretary to meet. A delegation of ten people met and gave him the Memorandum on different issues. The delegation included, Sister Dorothy, Arun Kumar, Syurendra Mandal, Kishori Das, Mahendra Yadav, Kamayani Swami and others.

Medha Patkar addressing the gathering said, “It is extremely unfortunate that Nitish Kumar coming from Socialist traditions has forgotten the tradition of dialogue. Dialogue with the people’s movements, who disagree with his agenda of development and governance. His agenda of privatization of basic services like health, education, water, shelter, transport and employment in every sector. What kind of development is this that State is withdrawing from every sector of basic services and handing its role to contractors big small and leading to complete informalisation of labour. What is this kind of development where on small pretext police opens fires leading to death of four people including children and women, implicates innocent villagers in false cases, put them behind bars and there is no one from the Government with whom there is a possibility of dialogue. The ugly face of development is beginning to show and people’s movements will have to intervene to put a halt to this.”

Sister Dorothy from Ashray Adhikar Abhiyan said, “in the new development paradigm there is no space for poor people be it in villages or slums in city. The new slum policy will lead to large scale evictions in the cities of Bihar. In the name of beautification and widening of streets lakhs of people will be evicted and displaced. They are already on margins where will they go? It is for this reason that we have to come together and fight. In coming months we will launch strong agitations against the displacement unleashed on the communities.”

Speaker after speaker narrated the same tale about this new face of development. Lokshakti Abhiyan members also witnessed the same be it the situation after floods in Kosi region; struggle against Asbestos factory in Madwan, Muzzafarpur; worker’s movements in Kanti Thermal Power Factory; Killing of four people protesting against Starch Factory; corruption in MNERGA and farmers protests against land acquisition for Highways.
After the tour of five days and interacting with movements of the state the memorandum submitted by the delegation demanded the following :

– Immediate relief to the families of 4 people killed in Farbesganj, Araria police firing. Withdrawing false cases against villagers of Bhajanpur. Immediate completion of enquiry by the commission of Enquiry and implementation of the recommendations of the Minorities Commission.

– Withdrawl of false cases against the people of Kanti and implementation of the agreement between the administration and villagers which required providing electricity to those living within 8 kms of the Kanti Thermal Power Station.

– Providing compensation to the farmers whose land has been destroyed in the Kosi floods and take immediate action to restore the land to fertility after removing the sand.

– Investigate in to the MNREGA corruption.

– Amend Slum Policy and provide insitu development to the slum-dwellers after consulting them.

Lokshakti Abhiyan will travel to Jharkhand tomorrow and hold a public meeting in kankenagari where land of Adivasis is being acquired for setting up Indian Insitutute of Management Campus and then hold a public meeting at Jagannathpur Chowk in Ranchi.

Medha Patkar, Vijay Kumar, J P Singh, Rajendra Ravi, Rakesh Rafiq, Roshanlal Agarwal, Kamayani Swami, Ashish Ranjan, Mahendra Yadav, Nagesh Tripathi, Ashu Chauhan, Amar Misra, Ashok Purusharthi, Thakur Devendra, Madhuresh Kumar.

For details call : Ashish Ranjan 9973363664 Madhuresh Kumar 9818905316

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