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Hemant Soren govt 'indifferent' to security forces' atrocities on tribals: Civil rights group

Counterview Desk 

The civil rights network, Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JJM) has complained to the Deputy Commissioner and the Superintendent of Police of the West Singhbhum district about how Adivasis of Chiriyabeda, during a security forces' search operation, have become victims of violence and abuse. Innocent Adivasis and other poor locals were were being falsely accused in Maoist related cases, it added.
Based on a fact finding report, the complaint said, the security forces “beat up Adivasis (including women), abused a girl with the intention of raping her, and destroyed people’s belonging”, adding, They entered the house of Noni Kui Jojo – an elderly widow – and scattered the things in her house. Then two of the jawans held her adolescent daughter – Shanti Jojo’s -- hands and a third jawan molested her.

Text:

On 11 November 2022, during a search operation in Chiriyabeda (Anjedbeda revenue village, Sadar block, West Singhbhum) security forces once again unleashed violence on innocent Adivasis. Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, a network of people’s organizations and activists, conducted a fact-finding on the matter. A delegation of the Mahasabha met with the Deputy Commissioner and the Superintendent of Police to discuss its findings.
The fact-finding team found that during the search operation, the security forces beat up Adivasis (including women), abused a girl with the intention of raping her, and destroyed people’s belongings. The forces entered the house of Noni Kui Jojo – an elderly widow – and scattered the things in her house. Then two of the jawans held her adolescent daughter – Shanti Jojo’s -- hands and a third jawan molested her.
They wanted to drag her towards the bushes, but she somehow managed to escape and went to her mother. The jawans then brutally beat up Noni Kui when she refused to let go off her daughter. Shanti Jojo told the factfinding team that the manner in which she was abused clearly indicated the security forces’ intention of raping her.
Many other people were also beaten. Sixteen-year-old Bamiya Bahnda was brought down from a tree and beaten. When his mother Kadma Bahnda went to rescue him, even she was beaten. The jawans held Kadma’s hands and then kicked her and also beat her with a rifle butt and dragged her to her house.
They then caught her hair and swirled her in circles. The jawans destroyed many people’s paddy, clothes, utensils etc. kept in their houses and the paddy in the khaliyan (threshing area). Throughout the operation, the jawans interrogated the villagers in Hindi, although they kept saying in Ho that they do not understand the language properly.
According to a local media reports published on 12 November, this was a combined operation of Cobra 209/205, Jharkhand Jaguar, CRPF battalion and the local police. During the operation in Chiriyabeda, Lovabeda and Hathiburu, the team defused bombs planted in series in the forests and also recovered CPI(Maoist)’s posters, banners and items of daily use. However, the media reports made no mention of the violence unleashed on the Adivasis.
This incident has again raised several serious questions. Security forces had brutally beaten the residents of Chidiyabeda with sticks, batons and rifle butts on 15 June 2020 as well. The victims submitted written applications at many levels, but till date no action has been taken against the perpetrators nor have the victims received any compensation. In the court as well, the investigating officer continues to shirk away from getting the testimony of the victims registered.
The lack of basic services and welfare schemes in Chidiyabeda and Anjedbeda is also a matter of grave concern. The children of Chidiyabeda are deprived of the ICDS services as the closest anganwandi is 6 kilometers away in Anjedbeda.
Many elderly and widows do not get social security pension. Eight extremely poor families in Anjedbeda have not got ration for about a year now, despite making complaints. In the absence of livelihood in the village, the local youth migrate on a large scale.
The inhumane and illegal behavior of the security forces towards the Adivasis during the search operation is wholly against the spirit of the constitution and democracy. Instead of addressing the gross deprivations faced by the people of these villages, the state repeatedly unleashes brutal violence on them.
It is also worrying that security forces are setting up camps in the Saranda area without the permission of the gram sabha and despite people’s opposition. This is a blatant violation of PESA and provisions of the fifth schedule.
Innocent Adivasis and other poor locals are falsely accused in Maoist related cases. While the central government’s lack of concern for Adivasis is clear, it is saddening that even Hemant Soren’s government is indifferent to the injustice faced by Adivasis of Chaibasa.
In this context, Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha demands the following:
  • An FIR should be lodged and appropriate action should be taken against the security forces responsible for unleashing violence on the residents and sexually abusing an adolescent girl of Chidiyabeda on 11 November 2022.
  • Appropriate action should be taken against the security forces responsible for unleashing violence on residents of Chiriyabeda on 15 June 2022 and the victims should be given compensation. 
  • Innocent villages should not be linked with Maoist cases on mere suspicion or because they are forced to feed the Maoists.
  • The security forces should stop unleashing violence of people in the name of Naxal search operations. The police should stop implicating people in false cases.
  • Before conducting any search operation in Fifth Schedule Area villages, permission has to be obtained from the gram sabha and the traditional heads. The local police and security forces should be trained about Adivasi languages, customs, and world views and made sensitive about them.
  • Security forces’ camps should not be established without the permission of the gram sabha and adequate discussion with the villagers.
The Mahasabha delegation comprised of the following representatives of Johar, Adivasi Women’s Network, Adivasi Youngster Unity, Jharkhand Kisan Parishad and other organizations – Ambika Yadav, Elina Horo, Kamal Purty, Mili Horo , Narayan Kandeyang, Ramesh Jerai, Reyance Samad, Siraj and Sonal.

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