Skip to main content

Jharkhand cops "forced" village headman to sign land acquisition papers or face tune

Sukhram Munda
Counterview Desk
A village headman of Kochang in Khunti district of Jharkhand, Sukhram Munda, in an interview with prominent tribal rights activist Gladson Dungdung, pointing towards the type of oppression faced by the tribal people, has said that he himself was a victim when, on his return from the state capital Ranchi, police caught him and was forcibly asked him to on a land acquisition paper.
“They threatened me to imprison in the false charges of participating in Pathalgari Movement if I disobey them. They said that once I was imprisoned, I would never get out of the jail”, he said, adding, as he was “already facing four false cases” and was afraid of the consequences, he “signed” papers. Hence, they allowed him to go scot-free late at 11 pm.
Belonging to the village which shot into prominent mid-last year for the infamous gang-rape incident, Munda said, following the incident, too, he was harassed. “A police camp was set up in school of my village. I have given land for school in free of cost, but another 14 decimals of my land were grabbed for construction of toilet for Jawans (constables) without my consent and compensation.”

Text of the interview: 

Gladson: How did you join the Pathalgari Movement (Movement for installation of stone slab)?
Sukhram: We were not aware about the provisions of the Indian Constitution. When we heard about the Pathalgadi Movement, some members of the Gram Sabha (village council) participated in some meetings of the Pathalgari Movement, and found is as crucial for the village to protect our land, territory and resources because our area comes under the Fifth Scheduled of the Constitution, where land cannot be acquired without the consent of Gram Sabha. Soon, I conducted a Gram Sabha’s meeting to discuss on Pathalgadi, where all members participated and agreed to install a stone slab at the entrance of our village. Thereafter, we collected the money and bought a stone slab, where the constitutional provisions were curved and installed at the entrance of village on 25th February, 2018.
Gladson: The government authorities claim that Pathalgari Movement is unconstitutional. What is you respond to it?
Sukhram: I don’t think it is unconstitutional. In fact, we have curved the constitutional provision on the stone slab to educate and make aware our Adivasis. Pathalgari is our tradition. We install stone slabs in many social and cultural occasions.
Gladson: The Indian Media claimed that the Adivasis have put barricades at the entrance of the villages. The President of India, the Prime Minister, the Governor, the Chief Minister and other government authorities cannot enter in the village without permission of the Gram Sabha. They must pay tax to the Gram Sabha before entering to the village. Are these allegations true?
Sukhram: These are fake allegations. We have not stopped anyone from entering to our village. Everyone is freely moving here. There is no such barricade or tax system.
Gladson: Pathalgadi leader Joseph Purty had given a call to boycott the government’s welfare schemes, health and education facilities and developmental activities. Do you agree with him?
Sukhram: Kochang Gram Sabha is very clear about the Pathalgadi, which is good for our village to protect our natural resources but we are against of boycotting welfare schemes, health and education facilities and developmental activities. I have given my land for school in free of cost, health sub-center is being run in my house for last couple of decades and Aanganbadi centre was also in my house. Therefore, how can someone blame me of boycotting government’s schemes?
Gladson: You claim that Pathalgadi Movement is to protect land and other natural resources, can you tell me what kind of threat is on the village’s natural resources?
Sukhram: After Kochang gang-rape incident, a police camp was set up in school of my village. I have given land for school in free of cost but another 14 decimals of my land were grabbed for construction of toilet for jawans (constables) without my consent and compensation.
Gladson: Do you want compensation for your land?
Sukhram: No. I want my land back. How can the government acquire anybody’s land without his/her consent? I know that Adivasis will not survive with compensation. We need land for our existence.
Gladson: Did government take your consent for using school as the security camp?
Sukhram: No. It was done in the night. The para-military forces landed in the night and school was vacated. The teachers were told that their school is merged with the Middle school of Ruguddih village, which is four kilometers far from here.
Gladson: How many children were studying in school? Where are they now? have they shifted to the Middle School, Ruguddih?
Sukhram: 35-36 children of Kochang were studying in the school. Now, they have stopped going to school. The school is far so they don’t want to go. How will I convince them to go to school? This is denial of right to education of our children.
Gladson: Is there any other case of land grabbing in Kochang?
Sukhram: Yes. There is a major case of land grab. The government authorities are violating the power of Gram Sabha for grabbing land of the village. The government intends to setup a permanent police camp in the village but we are against of it. We don’t need a security camp. We are safe without the police.
Gladson: Can you tell me how the government authorities are violating the laws to grab the land in Kochang.
Sukhram: The Circle Officer (CO) of Arki block issued a notice to conduct the Gram Sabha’s meeting for acquisition of 2.47 acre of land for the construction of a community hall. We objected it because how can the CO issues such notice? Only the Gram Sabha has the power to call such meeting. We already have a community hall in the village therefor we don’t need one more community hall. We wanted to know that what kind of community hall the government is going to build in such a huge patch of land? We were surprised to know that government wants to acquire our land for the security camp under the guise of a community hall to avoid the protest, and when we started objecting, the government authorizes are suppressing our voices.
Gladson: Can you explain me how your voices were suppressed and what kind of power is being used to acquire the land?
Sukhram: I was harassed by the police. I’m under their surveillance. On October 29, 2018, I had gone to Ranchi to attend a seminar. While returning home, the police caught me in Khunti and I was taken to Khunti police station where the Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Arki police station was also present. The OCs of Khunti and Arki forced me to sign on the land acquisition paper. They threatened me to imprison in the false charges of participating in Pathalgari Movement if I disobey them. They said that once I were imprisoned, I would never get out of the Jail. I’m already facing four false cases therefor I was afraid of them so signed on the land acquisition papers. They released me at 11 PM after signing the papers.
Gladson: What kind of cases you are facing?
Sukhram: All four cases are regarding the Pathalgari Movement. I was falsely accused of participating in some events of the Pathalgari Movement, where I was not part of but I was in Ranchi during those events. I have proof too. For instance, I was charged in a case of Kanki, where police personnel were hostage by the Gram Sabha but I was not present in Kanki that day. I was in Ranchi for treatment of my eyes.
Gladson: What happened after you were released from Khunti police station?
Sukhram: After going back to village. I called for the Gram Sabha’s meeting on 30th October 2018, obeying the CO’s order for land acquisition but the government officers did not turn up. Our time was wasted. On the next day, the OC of Arki police station arrived at Kochang’s village market with three Vehicles. Two vehicles are loaded with sarees and dhotis and another vehicle was full of police personnel. They distributed the cloths among men and women who were present in the village market and got their signature and thumb impression on blank papers. When some villagers asked them the reason for clothe distribution, they said that they are distributing clothes for ‘Sohrai’ festival. Later, we came to know that the document was converted as the Gram Sabha’s resolution for land acquisition. Immediately, we had a meeting in the village and sent a protest letter to the District Land Acquisition Officer, Khunti. I also met the DLAO, who told me that the Gram Sabha has given its consent for the land acquisition. He showed me the papers which I had signed in the police station and the villagers had singed and impressed their thumbs for receiving clothes. This is how we were cheated and betrayed.
Gladson: Now what will you do to protect the land?
Sukhram: We will fight till our last breath. We have no choice. We will also approach to the Jharkhand High Court.
Gladson: Are you not afraid of the government? The police camp is near your house are you safe? Is there any incident of police atrocity in the village?
Sukhram: Do we have any choice rather than fight for our survival? We have not yet faced any such atrocity in the village but it will not remain the same forever.
Gladson: The Pathalgari Movement is blamed for opium cultivation. While coming to Kochang, I saw opium plants both side of the road. What you have to say?
Sukhram: The Pathalgari Movement has nothing do with the opium cultivation. You have seen how opium is being cultivated in the region openly. The police camp is in Kochang and jawans go for patrolling everyday but they don’t destroy the opium plants. I’m surprised! I have told the police officers several times about it but they don’t bother for it. I don’t know why?
Gladson: Kochang village was defamed worldwide for gang rape. Can you tell me about it?
Sukhram: I don’t know much about it. The victims also did not meet me. I came to know about the unfortunate incident through newspaper only. But I can say that Fr Alphonse is innocent but he was falsely accused because he creates awareness among the Adivasis.

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

World Bank proved right, Narmada is already a destructive project: Medha Patkar

By Rajiv Shah  Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar has said that the World Bank’s independent review mission, which brought out the Morse Commission report , has been proved right: The Sardar Sarovar dam has not only failed to live up to the loud promises made for irrigating large arid areas of Saurashtra and Kutch in Gujarat, those who were displaced and resettled in Gujarat are getting increasingly restive as many of them are unable to get the promised water for irrigation and some for drinking water too. While 50,000 families have been resettled in three states and 20,000 have received land rights as land or cash, the authorities have not calculated what should be done with 15,000 families, whose houses are acquired for Sardar Sarovar but following changing backwater levels of the Sardar Sarovar dam, they are denied rehabilitation, Patkar tells Counterview in an interview (part1*): *** Q: What is the latest position in your view as far as the Sardar Sarovar dam is concerned?

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.

Industries dumping effluents into Narmada, destroying Adivasis' organic farms: Medha

By Rajiv Shah  Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar believes that it is not just rehabilitation issues which nag the Sardar Sarovar dam affected people, especially Adivasis who have lived along the Narmada river for centuries.  The river water is now facing excessive sand mining, on one hand, and effluent discharge in Narmada and its tributaries, on the other, making people increasingly restive, Patkar tells Counterview in an interview (part 2*): *** Q: Apart from rehabilitation, which other issues, in your view, are affecting people living next to the Narmada river today? A: Since in 2019, when they filled up the dam to the full reservoir level, 138 metres, we notice, the river is going down and down and down... Q: Is it because of the climate change? A: Partly, but the main reason is illegal, unbound, unwanted sand mining. Just as Yamuna got finished, Narmada is following the same pattern. We won the case against illegal mining. There are also a number of judgments, like

Vadodara violence: Fine Arts Faculty alumni raise fingers at Varsity's political appointee

Hasmukh Vaghela with PM Counterview Desk  In a statement, alumni of the Faculty of Fine Arts (FoFA), Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU), Baroda, Gujarat, referring to the “violence” by right-wing groups for displaying “objectionable” paintings that “hurt religious sentiments” at the one of India’s top fine arts institute May 5, have taken strong exception to “the assault and rustication” of one of the students, and lack of action taken against those who “violated” the institution and committed the act. Floated as an online petition seeking wider support, the FoFA alumni, in their statement, addressed to the vice chancellor, MSU, said, there should be “thorough” investigation in the whole incident and “immediate action” should be taken against syndicate member Hasmukh Vaghela, MSU, who sparked the assault, and “other co-conspirators” for breaching “university code of conduct and unlawful activities committed in broad daylight”. While the alumni statement doesn't say so, Vaghela

Polygamy in India "down" in 45 yrs: Muslims' from 5.7 to 2.55%, Hindus' 5.8 to 1.77%, "common" in SCs, STs

By Rajiv Shah Amidst All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) justifying polygamy, saying it “meets social and moral needs and the provision for it stems from concern and sympathy for women”, facts suggest the the practice is down from 5.7 per cent of Muslim families in 1961 to 2.55 per cent in 2006.

Ukraine: Why Gandhi's thinking offers serious alternative to today's 'violent' civilization

By Prem Singh*  Splintered lies the ethics, In varying degrees Which both have bent The Pandavas less, the Kauravas more Oh, when will this bloodletting end …? – 'Andha Yug', Dharamveer Bharati. The Russia-Ukraine war shows no signs of ending. However, there continue to be constant statements, discussions, and write ups from leaders, diplomats, experts, officials, scholars and ordinary citizens on various aspects related to the war. Whatever the significance of this whole exercise in the discussion of the causes, implications, effects, consequences etc. of war, it has been if little help in exerting any positive influence. It seems that modern violent civilization doesn't appear to have many options, not only by politicians and diplomats, but also by various experts and scholars who have taken their stand on the war. It can also be said that that they do not perceive modern civilization as violent. The UN general secretary says that the Russia-Ukraine war is an absurdity, a

UK leader cites Indian farmers' struggle one of top global fights against neoliberal order

Counterview Desk  Jeremy Corbyn, member of the UK Parliament, former leader of the UK Labour Party and founder of the  Peace and Justice Project , in his  inaugural speech to the  Progressive International’s  Summit at the End of the World on May 12, 2022, has said, what is happening across globe suggests that "image of apocalypse -- bombs and raids, oil spills and wildfires, disease and contagion -- is a reality for people across the planet." In an adaptation of his speech, distributed by  Globetrotter , Corbyn, however, said, there are fresh examples action, too -- by Indian farmers forcing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw three neo-liberal laws;  by workers, communities and activists against the top giant multinational Amazon's "greed and exploitation"; and by Latin American people's struggle to say "no more to the domination by imperialism, the destruction of their communities and the abuse of their environments." Stating that this is n

This Maoist justified US, western Europe's anti-Soviet stance, even Bhindranwale

By Harsh Thakor*  A glaring example of the extent to which those seeking to identify themselves as revolutionaries can go in making odd compromises with those normally considered as “class enemies” in Marxist jargon is late Kondapalli Seetharamiah. Few know that this Maoist organiser two decades ago was so enamoured by the Chinese three worlds theory that he called for a united front with the United States and other western countries against what he considered Soviet social imperialism! This wasn’t the only “compromise” Seetharamiah made during his career as a revolutionary. On Punjab he took a most eclectical stand of supporting Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, thus soft-pedalling the terrorist Khalistani movement. Among his other opportunist alliances, about which few are aware of, include support to the Akalis in Punjab, on one hand, and the NTR Telugu Desam regime in Andhra Pradesh, on the other – all part of his anti-Congress thrust. Also known as KS, this Maoist started his career as

Custodial death of Muslim youth: Govt of India told to ratify UN convention on torture

Counterview Desk  Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), and national convenor, Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI), Hooghly, West Bengal, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has drawn to the custodial death of a Muslim youth following his torture in police custody after registering a "false case" based on manufactured records. Seeking "proper investigation" the whole incident, Roy in his plea insists, the incident legitimizes his organisations' long-standing demand "for immediate ratification of the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment." Text : Here I want to draw your kind attention to one incident of custodial torture by the Deganga police personnel and the subsequent custodial death of one Muslim man from the Other Backward Class community in Dum Dum Central Correctional Home. The name o