Skip to main content

Imposed by ex-BJP govt, why Jharkhand CM isn't dropping Pathalgadi cases? NGO meet

Counterview Desk

Following a state-level seminar on December 11, the civil rights organisation Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JMM) has issued a detailed statement criticising the Hemant Soren government for failing to withdraw Pathalgadi cases even a year after he announced he would do it. Many Adivasis, including a few traditional heads, continue to be in jail, it said, adding, Right to Information (RTI) pleas suggest 30 FIRs related to Pathalgadi have still not been withdrawn.
Stating that one reason why the former BJP government under Raghubar Das was defeated was it came in for heavy criticism for “violence and repression” on the movement, which puts up adivasi villages independent entities under the Indian Constitution, the statement said, JMM regretted, the district authorities have recommended withdrawal of only about 60% of the total cases.

Text:

On December 29, 2019, Chief Minister Hemant Soren, right after taking oath, announced withdrawal of all Pathalgadi cases. The announcement was met with widespread appreciation and support. The earlier Jharkhand government, headed by Chief Minister Raghubar Das, had come down heavily on the Pathalgadi movement and responded with severe violence and repression.
It had filed several cases against the people associated with the movement and also several Adivasi traditional heads of the villages. The police filed several cases against about 200 named accused and more than 10,000 unnamed people under charges that include abetment, obstruction to public servants discharging their duty, creation of public nuisance, criminal intimidation and even sedition.
However, a year after the announcement, the cases are yet to be withdrawn and many Adivasis, including a few traditional heads, continue to be in jail. Right to Information applications filed in the last few months show that there are 30 FIRs, spread across Khunti (23), Saraikela-Kharsawan (5) and West Singhbhum (2) districts, related to Pathalgadi cases.
The district committee, comprising the deputy commissioner, superintendent of police and public prosecutor, has recommended withdrawal of only about 60% of the total cases (excluding the two cases related to Kochang gangrape incident). In addition to this, the Khunti district committee has recommended removal of only section 124A/120A/B from seven cases. Regarding action on the recommendations sent by the districts, the home department has simply said that it is under process.
Hemant Soren government’s announcement to withdraw all Pathalgadi cases indicated that it acknowledged the failure of the earlier Raghubar Das government to understand the movement and also wanted to undo the wrong response of the earlier government. However, the recommendation of districts to withdraw just over half the cases and the delay in withdrawing the cases indicate that the political decision of the government is yet to fully translate into action on ground.
During the Vidhan Sabha election campaign, the mahagathbandhan parties, led by Hemant Soren, had strongly flagged the state government’s repressive policies and relentless attacks on Adivasis (such as incidents of police atrocities, lynching and so on). It is disappointing to note that neither has the Hemant Soren government acted on earlier cases of violations nor has it shown a firm commitment to check violations under its leadership.
Victims of repression unleashed in the Pathalgadi villages by the earlier government are yet to get justice. Ghaghra’s Asrita Mundu who gave birth to a physically disabled daughter after being beaten by the security forces, during her pregnancy, is yet to receive any compensation. Similarly, action against personnel responsible for the violence (including killing of Adivasis such as Birsa Munda and Abraham Soy) are yet to be held accountable. The police is yet to find the perpetrators of murder of activists and traditional heads associated with the Pathalgadi movement such as Ramji Munda, Sukhram Munda and Amit Topno.
In the last one year, human rights violations have continued taking place. The most glaring example is severe beating of 20 Adivasis of West Singhbhum district’s Chiriyabera by CRPF in June 2020. 11 were severely beaten and three sustained grievous injuries. The CRPF, accusing the villagers to be Maoists and enraged by their inability to respond in Hindi, beat them using wooden sticks, batons, rifle butts and boots. Even though the victims clearly told the police at the hospital that they were brutally beaten by CRPF personnel, the FIR filed by the police obscures many facts of the incident and makes no mention of the role of the CRPF in the violence. 
Hemant Soren government won a decisive mandate against the previous BJP government’s repressive and anti-people policies
The FIR is yet to be rectified, action against the CRPF personnel yet to be taken and victims are yet to receive any compensation. Representations were repeatedly submitted to the DC, SP and DGP. In the last one year, there have been several other incidents across the state of violence on people by security forces.
In addition to this, falsely accusing Adivasis, poor people and activists of being Maoists continues to be the norm for the security forces. Cases of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) have been on the rise. It is disappointing that the Jharkhand government is yet to check the blatant misuse of UAPA by the police. Several daily-wage labourers and farmers of Lalpania (Bokaro) who have been vocal against exploitation of Adivasis-Moolvasis were booked as Maoists and under UAPA in the last few years. They are still struggling to get bail and to prove their innocence.
Another glaring example of state’s inaction is the continuing incidents of beating of people, especially Adivasis and Muslims, on accusations of consuming / selling beef. Under the earlier government, at least 24 people, most accused of selling / consuming beef or cattle theft, were lynched. The pattern seems to continue under the current regime. In July 2020, Adivasi were beaten by mob on suspicion of selling / consuming beef in Duma and Jamshedpur.
In September 2020, seven Adivasis of Simdega were beaten, tonsured and made to chant “Jai Shri Ram”. In several cases, victims are yet to be paid compensation and there is an attempt by the police to shield the perpetrators. The government is yet to implement Supreme Court’s order in Tahseen Poonawala case on the subject including provisions such as speedy trial, grant of interim compensation within 30 days, investigation to be monitored by SP and so on.
Mahasabha would like to remind the Hemant Soren government that it won a decisive mandate against the earlier government’s repressive and anti-people policies. It is expected that the government stands firmly with the people against all forms of exploitation and human rights violation. We sincerely hope that the government reins in the security forces and makes the state apparatus pro-Adivasi and pro-people.
Mahasabha demands the following from the Jharkhand government:
  • Immediate withdrawal of Pathalgadi cases, action against human rights violations in Khunti and compensation to victims.
  • Judicial inquiry into the Chiriyabera incident, strict disciplinary action against all administrative, police and CRPF personnel responsible for the violence and inaction and compensation to victims. 
  • Jharkhand government should clearly instruct the local administration and security forces to not exploit people, especially Adivasis, in any way. All incidents of human rights violations by the state apparatus should be strictly dealt with. People should not be harassed by security forces under the garb of anti-Naxal operations. 
  • Local administration and security forces should be taught about Adivasi languages, customs, culture and worldview and the government should ensure their sensitivity towards Adivasis. 
  • Implementation of Supreme Court guidelines against lynching in letter and spirit, action against perpetrators and police personnel shielding the perpetrators, compensation to victims and formulation of law against lynching. 
  • Activate the defunct state human rights commission and make it accessible to the people. Set up an independent grievance redress mechanism especially for cases of human rights violations.

Comments

TRENDING

Communal rhetoric? Hindutva preached by RSS-BJP is 'monolithic', not Hinduism

By Prem Verma*  I am a devout Hindu but not a believer of RSS Hindutva form of Hinduism which brings about hatred of other religions. My Hindu religion has not taught me to look down on other religions and neither has it instilled in me to go about converting others to my religion because my religion is superior.

Gross 'injustice' to children: Rs 5000 cr cut in education budget; 15 lakh schools shut down

Counterview Desk  More than 100 dignitaries, including educationists, academia, social activists, teachers’ union, civil society organisations (CSOs), various networks and people working on child rights, in a letter to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman have sought reversal of reduction in allocation for education in the Union Budget 2021-22, even as demanding substantial increase in it.

India sees 62 journo deaths, 4th highest, amidst pandemic: Swiss media rights body

By Our Representative The Switzerland-based media rights body Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) has noted that India is the fourth most affected country as far as mediapersons’ death on account of Covid-19 is concerned. According to Blaise Lempen, secretary-general of PEC, the global tally of casualties among media persons in the Covid-19 pandemic has reached 1,036 journalists in 73 countries till date.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

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".

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.

RSS love for 'killer' Myanmar junta behind Indian military presence at Tatmadaw Day?

By Shamsul Islam*  If a shameful act means an action which is criminal and nauseating, it would be an understatement to describe the attitude of the present RSS-BJP rulers of India towards the demolition of democracy and large-scale killing of the people of Myanmar by the military ( tatmadaw ) junta which took power through a coup on February 1, 2021 after renegading the election results in which the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, National League for Democracy, was a clear winner.

Chhattisgarh’s Apra riverfront imitates Sabarmati: 'Devaluing' water, environment

Sabarmati riverfront By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  This year’s #WorldWaterDay (March 22) focus was on ‘Valuing Water’. My school friend, Pragati Tiwari from Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, called that day knowing my interest in water matters. We were remembering our childhood days as how we used to play on the banks and the bed of the Arpa Nadi (River) during the summer holidays and as how the river would swell like Anaconda to flow happily during the monsoon.

Bihar massacre on Holi day: Brahminical, casteist mindset behind 'uneasy' silence

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Several people were killed in Bihar amidst Holi festivities, but not much response has come in from the media. The silence of the government and the society as a whole is also appalling. We seek to romanticise these festivals, yet we forget that every year they take so many lives. This despite the fact that Holi appears to be the best time for 'avenging things'.

India's draft migrants policy: Whither concern on job restrictions imposed by states?

By Anil Kumar*  India’s Niti Aayog has prepared a Draft Migration Policy. The draft policy acknowledges migration as an integral part of development, and it calls for positive government interventions that facilitate internal migration. With a rights-based solution to migration, the draft states that the policy should “enhance the agency and capability of the community and thereby remove aspects that come in the way of an individual’s own natural ability to thrive”.

Recalling Jallianwala martyrs' communal amity as BJP 'warns' of Sitalkuchi everywhere

By Shamsul Islam*  The RSS-BJP rulers declare India to be a battle-ground between Hinduism and Islam. Muslims have been declared as ‘internal threat’ by RSS ideologue MS Golwalkar (“Bunch of Thought”, Chapter xvi). Behaviour of many of their leading cadres, including those who hold high constitutional posts, is such that they seem to be conspiring over-time to ignite a civil war between the two communities. They are under the impression that this would help divert attention from failures of the Hindutva rulers on developmental front.