Skip to main content

Most statutory bodies "fail" to react to security forces occupying Jharkhand tribal schools

Counterview Desk
Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), a well-known women's rights organization, has taken strong exception to nine schools and two panchayat bhawans in Khunti, Murhu, Arki, Badgaon villages of Khunti and Chaibasa districts of Jharkhand being "continuously occupied by security forces since June 2018."
In a statement, WSS has said, the unusual occupation of schools and panchayat bhawans came following the arrest three Pathalgarhi leaders, "falsely implicated in the gang-rape of five adivasi women the preceding fortnight, as the real culprits identified by the villagers are still at large."
As part of the Pathalgarhi movement, a tribal rebellion in dense forests of Jharkhand, tribals erects edicts declaring their gram sabhas as an autonomous units, challenging the right of the Indian state to govern their areas, even as claiming that this right has been given to them by the Constitution.
WSS regrets, despite complaint made to several statutory bodies, only thr National Commission for Scheduled Tribes has positively reacted to the occupation, demanding removal of security forces from schools in Jharkhand.

Text of the statement:

Residents of Ghaghra and neighbouring villages, Khunti district in Jharkhand, and women’s rights activists have approached the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) with 9 complaints against the establishment of security camps inside primary schools and panchayat bhawans in the village, in contravention of Supreme Court guidelines.
The complaints state that 9 schools and 2 panchayat bhawans in Khunti, Murhu, Arki, Badgaon of Khunti and Chaibasa districts have been continuously occupied by security forces since June 2018. As a result, schools have been shut down affecting the right to education of adivasi children, who are living under a constant environment of fear and intimidation. Further, no meetings have been held in the panchayat bhawans because of the occupation.
On December 20, 2018, during a 2-day visit of the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) in Ranchi, Jharkhand, Chairperson Nand Kumar Sai also called upon the Jharkhand state government to vacate the security camps from schools. The NCST delegation, including the Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson Anusuya Ukil, among others, met with the state Minister for Women and Child Development Louise Marandi, and asked for the relocation of security camps as they adversely affect students and local residents.
This comes in the wake of a previous complaint by women’s rights group, Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), submitting complaints to the NCST against the non-partial investigation into the gang-rape of 5 adivasi women in Khunti, Jharkhand in June, which was followed by targeted raids in neighbouring villages.
In September 2010, the Supreme Court had held in Exploitation of Children in Orphanages in the State of Tamil Nadu v. Union of India & Ors that “school buildings are not allowed to be occupied by the armed or security forces in future for whatsoever purpose”. Previously, the Supreme Court had also directed the state of Chhattisgarh to release schools from the occupation of paramilitary forces in the ongoing Salwa Judum case.
The camps had been set up following security raids in Ghaghra and 7 neighbouring villages in June 2018.The fact-finding visits of WSS and CDRO in June and August uncovered that, on June 26, 2018, the police claimed to have raided Ghaghra village in order to arrest three Pathalgarhi leaders falsely implicated in the gang-rape of five adivasi women the preceding fortnight, as the real culprits identified by the villagers are still at large.
A Pathalgarhi edict
The police lathi charged the villagers and drove them back using several tear gas shells and firing. One of the villagers, Birsa Munda, died on the spot after being hit on the head with lathi, and his family has still not been provided with a post-mortem report.
This was followed by full-fledged security raids on June 27, 2018, as 1000-member strong force of CRPF, RAF, JAF and personnel from other units raided Ghaghra (a village with a population of around 300) and neighbouring 7 villages. In 2 villages, 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, and destroyed the belongings of the residents.
Women who were fleeing from the violence were caught and assaulted, with at least one woman having been raped and another disrobed here, and several other instances of sexual violence in neighbouring villages. One woman who was pregnant was verbally abused, physically assaulted, lathi-charged and beaten up due to which she fainted. The security forces continued to camp outside the villages for at least two weeks, and patrolling continues until today.
Apart from the NHRC and NCST, victims have also sent a petition to the Chief Justice of India, National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, the state Department of Women and Child Welfare, the District Collector and Chief Secretary, Jharkhand. However, till date except the NCST, no other agency has taken action on these complaints.
These complaints raise issues of atrocities and human rights violations during and following the brutal security raids, including the death of Birsa Munda, and assaults against women. The complaints demand vacation of security camps from schools and panchayat bhawans. They also demand an impartial investigation into the gang-rape of five adivasi women, security raids, use of tear gas and lathi-charge, and death and sexual violence against the villagers. Finally, complaints demand compensation, as there has been criminal inaction by the police in registering FIRs and pursuing necessary investigations.
WSS stands by the complainants and their demands and urges:
  • The NHRC to take immediate cognizance of and action on the 9 complaints submitted by the residents of Ghaghra and neighbouring villages, Khunti district in Jharkhand, and women’s rights activists
  • The National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights take immediate action in the matter of occupation of schools by security forces and ensure continuation of children’s education in an environment free of intimidation and fear.

Comments

TRENDING

Lip-service on World Environment Day vs 'watered-down' eco-safeguards

By Shankar Sharma*  Just a few days ago, the world remembered the routinely forgotten global environment on the occasion of World Environment Day, briefly though, maybe just for the day. There were reports of a few high profile ceremonies in different parts of the country, including a few in New Delhi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi reportedly asked the people of our country to plant one tree per each person as a mark of respect/ gratitude for our mothers.

New Odia CM's tribal heritage 'sets him apart' from Hindutva Brahminical norms

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  Mohan Charan Majhi took the oath as the new Chief Minister of Odisha following the electoral defeat of the BJD led by Naveen Patnaik, who served as Chief Minister for twenty-four years. The new Chief Minister is the son of a security guard and a four-time MLA who hails from the remote village of Raikala in the Keonjhar district. He belongs to the Santali tribe and comes from a working-class family. Such achievements and political mobilities are possible only in a democratic society. Majhi’s leadership even in the form of symbolic representation in a democracy deserves celebration.

Pellet gun fire severely injures Dalit worker off Bangladesh border

By Kirity Roy*  This is regarding an incident of firing pellets by the Border Security Force (BSF) personnel attached with Panchadoji Border Outpost of ‘E’ Company of 90 BSF Battalion on a Schedule Caste youth of village Parmananda under Dinhata Police Station of Cooch Behar district of West Bengal. The victim was severely injured and one portion of his face became disfigured due to pellet firing by the BSF.

Sanction to persecute Arundhati Roy under UAPA politically motivated: PUCL

Counterview Network  Top human rights group, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, has demanded that the authorities should immediately withdraw the prosecution against top author Arundhati Roy and Dr Sheikh Showkat Hussain, a Kashmir academic, under the " unconstitutional"  Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act  (UAPA), calling the Delhi  Lieutenant-Governor nod for the Delhi police move "politically motivated".

What stops Kavach? Why no time to focus on common trains meant for common people?

By Atanu Roy  A goods train rammed into Kanchenjunga Express on 17th June morning in North Bengal. This could have been averted if the time tested anti-collision system (Kavach) was in place. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.