Skip to main content

Jharkhand gangrape: Seeking to "tarnish" Pathalgarhi tribal rebels, 1000 cops raid seven villages

By Our Representative
A fact-finding team, constituted by the Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression and Sexual Repression (WSS), on gang rape of five adivasis women on June 19 in Kochang village of Jharkhand’s Khunti district, where they had performed 16 street plays on anti-trafficking, has accused the police of focusing “entirely on a campaign to tarnish the Pathalgarhi movement” of the region instead of investigating the rape incident itself.
Pathalgarhi is a rebel movement, seeking to “demarcate” the tribal territories and “tell outsiders (government officials) that the law of the land does not apply here”, insisting, they are “the real inhabitants of this country” and “jal, jungle, jameen (water, forest and land)”.
Efforts to tarnish the movement, says the team in its report, is clear from the fact that “on June 27, a 1,000-member strong force of CRPF, RAF, JAF and personnel from other units raided Ghaghra (a village with a population of around 300) and neighbouring seven villages.”
It adds, “Out of these seven villages, Pathalgarhi had only been declared in three or four villages. Out of the two villages where Pathalgarhi had been initiated, the security forces unleashed brutal violence in the form of beatings and atrocities on men, women and children, lathi-charge, tear-gassing and rubber pellet shootings, and also raided the homes of the residents.”
It adds, “One person died in the lathi-charge, a minor girl suffered fracture, and between 150-300 persons, including women in substantial numbers, were arrested. After the raids, residents of all eight villages have fled to the forest and nearby areas out of fear and terror.”
The fact-finding team, which visited the affected villages from June 28 to 30, attempted to meet the five survivors, currently under police custody, but was not granted access, nor was it given appointment to meet with the district collector and district police chief.
The street plays the five victims were performing were a collaborative effort between a home for rescued women, managed by the RC Mission in Jharkhand, and a troupe belonging to an NGO.
“The incident occurred on June 19, but two FIRs were filed on the incident, one at the Khunti police station, and the other at the Khunti Mahila police station, only on June 21”, the team says, adding, the delay took place even though the police “had already received information of the offence at least on June 20.”
The FIRs identify Father Alphonse and “other unidentified persons/Pathalgarhi supporters” as the accused, says the team, even though “there is videographic evidence of the incident.”
A week later the police released the photo of one of the accused from this video, one Baji Samant, “who is not a Pathalgarhi supporter, but a resident of a different village, Sarai-kela”, says the team, adding, “All other sources we spoke to including those form near by villages said that the four men who came on bikes (the suspects) were not from the area.”
The team further says, “While it is being projected in the media that Father Alphonse was arrested for not doing enough to prevent the incident, and for failing to report the case to the police, in the FIR he is accused of a range of very grave offences, most of which are non-bailable”, including “wrongful restraint, wrongful confinement, voluntarily causing hurt, disrobing, gang rape, kidnapping, kidnapping with intent to wrongfully confine and conspiracy.”
While the police claim that three other co-accused “are leaders of the Pathalgarhi movement”, the team points out, “On asking whether the identity of all five identified accused and their claims have been verified by the five survivors, we were told that only the SP office would respond to all the queries”.
Wondering why, despite “surreptitious medical examination” on the night of June 20, followed by “full medical examination” of all five survivors on June 21, they are still in police custody, the team asks, why are they not even allowed to speak to “anyone except the National Commission of Women (NCW) team”.
Also wondering as to “who is head of the NGO which was a part of the troupe and who has filed the first FIR”, and where has he “disappeared after filing the FIR”, the team accuses “the Jharkhand police and administration” for “maintaining utmost secrecy in the actions and proceedings subsequent to the incident.”
“In the name of pursuing unidentified suspects, the police has artificially linked those associated with the Pathalgarhi movement with the gang rape, and has unleashed targeted persecution, harassment and arrests on them”, the team opines.
It adds, “There is sufficient evidence to suggest that the four bikers who committed the crime were not localites. One of those from the video has been identified as Baji Samant, resident of neighbouring Sarai-Kela. Yet, instead of pursuing these identifiable accused, the police, with the support of security personnel, is targeting Pathalgarhi leaders as the prime suspects in the case.”

Comments

TRENDING

Telangana govt proposes to give unfettered powers to forest officials, 'help' corporates

By Dr Palla Trinadha Rao*
The Telangana Government is contemplating to replace the Telangana Forest Act 1967 with a new law - the Telangana Forest Act (TFA) 2019, trampling the rights of adivasis ensured under the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA Act 2006) and Panchayats Extension to Schedule Area (PESA) Act 1996 both of which are central acts.

RSS, Hindu Mahasabha were 'subservient' to British masters: Nagpur varsity VC told

Counterview Desk
Well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam, associate professor (retired), University of Delhi, in an open letter to the vice-chancellor of the Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University, Dr Siddharthavinayaka P Kane, has taken strong exception to the varsity decision to include RSS’ “role” in nation building in the syllabus of the BA (history) course, citing instances to say that the RSS ever since its birth in 1925 with its Hindutva allies like Hindu Mahasabha led by VD Savarkar worked overtime to “betray the glorious anti-colonial freedom struggle”.

British companies export 'deadly' asbestos to India, other countries from offshore offices

By Rajiv Shah
“The Sunday Times”, which forms part of the powerful British daily, “The Times”, has raised the alarm that though the “deadly” asbestos is banned in Britain, companies registered in United Kingdom, and operating from other countries, “are involved in shipping it to developing nations”, especially India. India, Brazil, Russia and China account for almost 80% of the asbestos consumed globally every year, it adds.

One lakh schools closed down, draft policy 'seeks' commercialisation: Whither RTE?

By Our Representative
A national consultation on the new draft National Education Policy (NEP) with senior experts, teachers’ association representatives and other stakeholders at the India International Centre in New Delhi on July 11, organised by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, has expressed serious concern over curtailment in the budgeted expenditure on education year after year, even as closure of more than one lakh schools over the "last few years."

Lynching as state terror? Complete dearth of 'political will' to deal with mob violence

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
On Friday July 5, thousands of people had gathered at a rally in Surat to protest against the growing mob lynching incidents in different parts of the country. There are different interpretations at what happened during the rally: with police blaming the rallyists and those in the rally blaming the police for using teargas shells upon them without any reason.

Beijing-based infrastructure bank 'funding' India's environmentally risky projects

By Our Representative
A new civil society note has questioned the operations of the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a multilateral development bank that aims to support the building of infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region, seeking to fund projects in India through the Government of India’s National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF), calling it “a risky venture”.

Gender budgeting? Govt of India allocates just 2.1%, 0.73% for SC, ST women

By Rajiv Shah
The National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), one of the most influential all-India Dalit rights networks, has taken strong exception to the manner in which the Government of India has undermined Gender Responsive Budgeting in the Union Budget 2019-20 for scheduled castes (SCs) and scheduled tribes (STs), pointing towards “wide gaps” between the goals and the situational reality of “the Dalit and Adivasi women on the ground.”

Mental health: India's 95% patients "deprived" of medical care, treatment gap 70%

By Moin Qazi*
Among the many challenges India faces, the most underappreciated is the ongoing mental health crisis. Mental illness is actually India’s ticking bomb. An estimated 56 million Indians suffer from depression, and 38 million from anxiety disorders. For those who suffer from mental illness, life can seem like a terrible prison from which there is no hope of escape; they are left forlorn and abandoned, stigmatized, shunned and misunderstood.

Universal healthcare? India lacks provisions to 'fight' non-communicable diseases

By Moin Qazi*
Universal health coverage (UHC) -- ensuring that all people receive proper and adequate health care without suffering financial hardship -- is an integral part of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It enables countries to make the most of their strongest asset: human capital.

Include all workers exposed to silica dust in anti-TB programme: Govt of India told

Counterview Desk
In a letter, sponsored by well-known civil rights organization, Occupational & Environmental Health Network of India and signed by more than 60 professionals and activists*, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, has been told that Indian policy makers shouldn't just acknowledge higher TB risk to mine and stone crusher workers, but also “other silica-exposed workers”.