Skip to main content

Two women tribal leaders "go missing" in Uttar Pradesh for a month: Police claims they were released on June 8

Sukalo Gond
By Our Representative
Two Uttar Pradesh forest rights leaders belonging to the All-India Union of Forest Working Peoples (AIUFWP) Sukalo Gond and Kismatiya Gond have reportedly gone "untraceable" even though the state government claims both were released over a month ago. Belonging to the Sonbhadra district, the police couldn't "trace" them and produce them before the Allahabad High Court at the second hearing of a Habeas Corpus petition on July 9.
Revealing this, a human rights site, Sabrang India, run by well-known rights leader Teesta Setalvad, reports that the state government said in the court the police gave the two women a challan under Section 151 police and were released soon after. "However", it adds, "It appears that at first the government made efforts to get the hearing postponed, but when the lawyers for the petitioners expressed their concern for the life and safety of the two women, it finally made a shocking disclosure ‘On Oral Instructions'."
"No details for the 151 challan were provided, nor the details of their ostensible release shared", the report quotes advocate Farman Naqvi, appearing for both the two women, as saying. The lawyer demanded in the court that their release should be put on an affidavit, as "they are not traceable for over a month after their clandestine arrests on June 8."
Section 151 is a common offence imposed on peaceful protesters. It relates to continued assembly of five or more persons after orders for their dispersal have been given. Setalvad's NGO Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) and AIUFWP moved the court seeking the "immediate production and release of illegally detained" adivasi women leaders Sukalo and Kismatiya.
While Sukalo is treasurer of AIUFWP, and Kismatiya is secretary of a local Forest Rights Committee. The two, says the report, were arrested in a "clandestine manner" from Chopan station, Sonbhadra district, just as they were returning after a meeting state forest minister, Dara Singh Chauhan, and the forest secretary in Lucknow on June 8.
The report says, adivasi women of Sonbhadra who are a part of a "peaceful struggle for land rights, and are being "systematically bullied and harassed". Many of them have "fake cases" filed against them on "false or trumped up charges." They have been fighting, with CJP and AIUFWP support, in the demand for implementation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006.
Ahead of the arrest, Sukalo was fighting for the land rights of adivasis of Lilasi village. Says the report, "First, on May 18, the UP police picked up and detained adivasis from Lilasi and made them go through harrowing procedures for about a day. Later, on May 22, they entered the village, completely unwarranted and assaulted women and children, in which Kismatiya sustained severe injuries."
As Sukalo constantly campaigned on how the village was turned into a police camp, "bulk FIRs were filed against the villagers on the pretext of an 'afforestation project', the details of which wasn’t known to anybody", the report says, adding, "Even though Sukalo wasn’t present during the episodes of assaults by the police, and her name was nowhere mentioned in FIRs, she was arrested from Chopan station on June 6 in a clandestine manner when she and Kismatiya and were returning after meeting the state forest minister."
The report claims that Sukalo was the main link between these villagers and others outside the area. "These villages are located in the far-off interiors and not even well connected by roads. Mobile phones are scarce. Arresting her is a clear method to intimidate these fierce Adivasi women so that they stop speaking up", it adds.
On AIUFWP and CJP’s intervention, NHRC issued a notice to the district magistrate of Sonbhadra to look into the violent onslaught of UP police and forest department. "However", saus the report, "The feudal nexus of the government, the forest department and big landholders is carrying on its oppressive onslaught with impunity."

Previous arrest

This is not the first time that Sukalo has been arrested. In June 2015, when forest rights movement was gaining momentum in Sonbhadra, the state government "resorted to violence to crush the peaceful protest of people against the Kanhar dam in a brutal and bloodied manner", says the report.
Sukalo has been quoted as saying, “Eighteen rounds were fired right in front of my eyes. It was terrible. They arrested almost all the women leaders, including Rajkumari, immediately. I had no option but to run away, they were arresting every body.”
Arrested in the wee hours of June 30, 2015, along with Roma, AIUFWP leader, they were sent to Mirzapur jail. However, she continued her struggle within the four walls of the prison. She, along with other inmates, wrote multiple letters to authorities and sat for hunger strike to demand basic facilities as well as land rights outside.

Comments

Uma Sheth said…
We are fast becoming a fascist country. Goodbye to democracy

TRENDING

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

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.

Modi model? "Refusal" to build Narmada's micro canals, keep Kutch dry; help industry

By Medha Patkar*
This is the latest photograph of the Kutch Branch Canal (KBC) of the Sardar Sarovar, as of April 8! What does it show, expose, and what memories do you recall? Is it dry or dead? Is it a canal or a carcass of the same?

Bill Gates "promoting" GMO, Bt cotton, like cartels that have roots in Hitler's Germany

By Our Representative
World-renowned environmental leader and ecologist Dr Vandana Shiva has expressed concern that Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft Corporation, has joined the bandwagon of “a poison cartel of three" – Monsanto and Bayer, Syngenta and ChemChina, Dow and DuPont – all of whom allegedly have “roots in Hitler’s Germany and finding chemicals to kill people”.

Indian talc products contain "contaminated" asbestos structures, can cause cancer: Study

Counterview Desk
A recent study, using polarizing light microscopy, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), electron diffraction, and X-ray analysis on multiple over-the-counter Indian talc products for the presence of asbestos, has concluded that large quantities of body talc products are likely to pose a public health risk for asbestos-related diseases, especially for the cancers related to asbestos exposure.

Why are you silent on discrimination against Dalit jawans? Macwan questions Modi

By Rajiv Shah
Close on the heels of releasing his book in Gujarati, "Bhed Bharat", which lists 319 cases of atrocities against Dalits and Adivasis across the country over the last five years, well-known Gujarat Dalit rights leader Martin Macwan has shot an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, telling him the reasons why he does not want vote for the BJP.

Emergence of a rare Dalit teacher in IIT-Kanpur "disturbed" certain faculty members

By PS Krishnan, IAS (Retd)*
Dr Subrahmanyam Sadrela, a faculty member in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kanpur since January 1, 2018, and one of the rare Dalit members of the faculty in IIT group of institutions, is facing the threat of revocation of his PhD thesis, and thereby also jeopardizing his job and career.

RTE in remote areas? Govt of India "plans" to close down 2.4 lakh schools

By Srijita Majumder*
The Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, came into effect on April 1, 2010, for the first time made it obligatory on the part of the State to provide free and compulsory education to all children from 6-14 years of age in India. The Act, despite its limitations, had progressive elements like neighbourhood schools, community participation, ban on corporal punishment, no detention, continuous and comprehensive evaluation and it hence it appeared that India was not far from achieving universal elementary education.

Investigation shows Narmada downstream "seriously" polluted. Reason: apathy, greed

By Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant, Swati Desai*
Our investigation regarding quality of water flowing in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD), dated April 6, 2019, between 11.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. reiterates, what is commonly known now, that the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) is planned without considering its impact on the downstream Narmada River stretch of 161 kilometres, its ecology, biodiversity and fishery, and lakhs of people living close to and dependent on the river directly or indirectly. This, in turn, has led to its present disastrous state.

Election Commission suffering from worst-ever "credibility crisis": Ex-bureaucrats

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to President Ram Nath Kovind, a group of ex-bureaucrats have lamented ‘weak-kneed’ responses of the Election Commission of India (ECI) in the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Citing various violations of the model code of conduct, and pointing towards how ECI has taken little action, the letter asks the President to tell ECI to “conduct itself in a manner where its independence, fairness, impartiality and efficiency are not questioned.”