Whaever the verdict, muslims should keep restraint

Whatever the verdict, Muslims should keep restraint’

AIMPLB working committee member Syed Shahabuddin tells Sopan Joshi that the government should learn some lessons from 1992 to prevent another violent backlash

 

Is there any effort to negotiate an agreement on the Ayodhya land title case?
We have no contact with any party to this matter. After the hearings were completed, the judge asked our lawyer, as per procedure, if we want to settle by negotiation. Our lawyer said there is no scope for negotiations. On 17 September, our lawyer iterated the stand.

How does the Muslim leadership view the case?
There is no such thing as a Muslim leadership. There are a number of eminent organisations of national importance. The All India Majlis-e-Mushawarat was formed in 1965 to bring all of them together. When the Babri Masjid issue made headlines in 1986 after the sudden opening of the gate – I’ve never seen the government move so efficiently – we organised a meeting and formed the Babri Masjid Movement Coordination Committee. Two years later, we broke up, but continued to work together. Initially, there was some rancour and talk of break-ups, but we decided to stick together. Then, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board formed a committee with members of all these groups.

Is there any unanimity on the course of action?
Many organisations have said this, and so have I, that we shall accept whatever be the final judicial verdict. If you ask me whether I have taken a referendum of all the Muslims, then I have not. But this has broad acceptance. If you have taken an issue, you try to defend your interests under the rule of law. If necessary, we will go to the Supreme Court. But how long shall we go on pursuing the case? After all, in Punjab there are 10,000 masjids that are under occupation. In Delhi itself there must be 50 such masjids. Every day I read stories about restraint on azaan, on prayer or on construction of masjids. We follow these cases as they come.

Did you ever consider giving the land on your own accord for the temple?
This came up many times between 1986 and 2000. The Shankaracharya, among others, said several times that this is a matter of our faith and give us the land. The then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee asked me to give the land. I said what’s there to give now that you have already taken the land and broken the structure. One of our people said you can take my house, but a mosque is not my property so I can’t give it up. We said the matter is in court. Let the court decide if it is a political game or really an ancient tradition. Courts have interpreted Hindu religious matters in the past, like the orientation of the moon drawn on ceremonial elephants’ foreheads.

Why wasn’t the court decision acceptable to Muslims in the Shah Bano case?
These are two different things altogether. In the Shah Bano case, the judge had interpreted the Quran. We don’t think any judge can interpret the Quran and tell us what it means. It was an effort to make it a legal matter when it is not. That is not the issue in Ayodhya, it is a pure and simple criminal and civil case. Somebody comes into my room and plants a suitcase, comes back after two hours and says my suitcase is here so the house is mine. We know for sure that there was no worship of Ram before the 16th century. The oldest temple of Ram is near Allahabad, pertains to about the 16th century. This is an invented faith that has been made into a political issue recently.

What is your feedback on the situation in Uttar Pradesh?
The government is doing what it ought to do. There is no possibility of any law and order situation being created by the Muslims. But it can come as a rebound. For example, if there is a group of VHP or Bajrang Dal characters attacking Muslim areas, there might be a reaction, I don’t know. The government has to take precautions. They are the best judges of the situation. Our complaint against PV Narasimha Rao (in 1992) was that he knew what was coming and he allowed it. In fact, he had planned it to happen, he was in collusion with the RSS people.

How do you see the various claimants to the land on the Hindu side?
Some Hindu organizations have been mobilizing people and making plans for the past six months. They have held meetings of the so-called Dharma Sansad, which has said they shall accept nothing less than a positive decision. Then it has to be seen to whom does the court give the land. Does it only rule for the Hindu or Muslim side and leave it to the government to give it to whichever party among the claimants? On our side, there is no dispute: the UP Sunni Waqf Board should be given the land.

How do you react to recent statements from the Sangh Parivar?
The VHP is accusing the BJP. The BJP is lying low and taking all the blame. In fact, VHP leader Ashok Singhal has praised Narasimha Rao, which only confirms my theory that he was the real villain of the piece.

How do you see the VHP’s mobilisation?
For the past two years, whenever they held meetings in Ayodhya, they failed to draw big crowds. But every event creates its own impetus. If the verdict goes in favour of Muslims, there may be attacks on the community. Otherwise, I’m not getting any news that Muslims are running scared, even from Ayodhya or Faizabad. They also hear that the new ‘maharani’ of Uttar Pradesh is taking all steps to prevent trouble.

Why is the VHP failing to draw big crowds?
There were lots of participants in 1990 who thought something would come out of it. But nothing came out it, not even when the BJP was in power. The NDA government couldn’t do anything. Now they are talking about passing a law. If the NDA couldn’t initiate a law, how can they do it now? People have this much understanding: you don’t play the card twice. The VHP doesn’t have much credibility left. The BJP is silent. After LK Advani’s statement on showing restraint, I asked a BJP leader, why didn’t Advani show restraint in 1992?

How do you see the Congress now?
I don’t think the Congress sees the BJP as an enemy since the communists have backed off. Where they want to keep Hindus happy, they go with the BJP. The Congress has two sections. The party always had communal elements, from the times of Mahatma Gandhi. No tragedy is bigger in this subcontinent than the Partition. I hold it as a collective failure of the Indian freedom movement. On a basic question – what should be the rights of minorities – we could not reach an agreement.

What do you expect from the Prime Minister?
I think he should appeal to all the people to accept whatever the court decides. That this is the only way to resolve the matter.

What would you like to tell the RSS?
We need to see how the RSS handles the VHP and whether the BJP respects its constitutional dignity. Everybody knows that the VHP doesn’t work on its own. If things go wrong, the blame will fall on the RSS.

What do you say to the Muslims?
There must be no demonstration of happiness if the verdict is in our favour. If it goes against us, there should be no expression of sorrow. We’ve taken the thing as far as we could. We want peace in India because if anything untoward happens, it will be bad for the minority community. They should take the order in their stride.

 
From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 7, Issue 39, Dated October 02, 2010

Operation Green Hunt is in disarray. Bihar’s forces are in no mood to fight the Naxals

Operation Green Hunt is in disarray. Bihar’s forces are in no mood to fight the Naxals

BY VK SHASHIKUMAR

 
Broken will Members of the Bihar Special Auxiliary Police look desolate while taking a break from Naxal ops
 

YOU DID nothing for me. The police and the government did nothing to rescue me. My family negotiated with the Naxals for my release. I am pleading with folded hands, please let me go home. I will not accompany you to the police station. I don’t want to be in the police.”

Sub-Inspector Abhay Yadav to Lakhisarai Superintendent of Police, Ranjit Kumar Mishra, after the Maoists released him on 6 September.

Eventually Lakhisarai’s new SP forced Abhay, Rupesh Sinha and Mohammad Ehsan Khan, the three surviving policemen from the abductors, to take a detour to the police station for a debrief session. These policemen survived an eight-day ordeal as captives of the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) in Lakhisarai, Bihar. The PLGA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), popularly known as Naxals.

It is unlikely that Abhay will give up his job. Employment in the government service, especially the police, is coveted because it brings in unaccounted wealth. “I want to leave my job. But my family will decide,” he says. “Dheeraj Rakhiye” (Please be patient). These words were used every time a police officer spoke to those in the lower ranks. But each expression brought despair and a sense of inadequacy to the policemen in Lakhisarai, Jamui, Munger and Banka.

In some areas of the dense hills connecting these districts, several teams of the Bihar Police and the CRPF staged short bursts of combing operations to trace the kidnapped policemen. Some, like Jawaharlal Singh, assistant sub-inspector, Jamui Police Station, berated curious villagers: “Your netas are responsible for Naxalism. They create the problem, they use Naxals for political one-upmanship and we have to face the brunt of it.”

Several policemen, overwhelmed by the killing of Lucas Tete, admitted that the writ of the government runs dry across a large swath of Lakhisarai. Tete was killed when the state government refused to release eight imprisoned Naxal commanders.

‘What am I doing here? I ask this question to myself. I feel like leaving the force. But what will I do if I leave?’ asks SI Prasad

“What am I doing here? I often ask this question to myself. I feel like leaving the force. But what will I do if I leave? How will I earn? My family wants me to quit police service. But when I am jobless and unable to provide for my family, will they treat me well?” asks SI Rajendra Prasad of Kajra Police Station. The post is barely 15 km from the spot where four policemen were kidnapped after a skirmish with the Naxals on 29 August. Seven policemen were killed and 10 injured.

With the state government failing to put a rescue plan in action, Abhay’s father, Indu Prasad Yadav, contacted his caste brethren linked to PLGA commander and self-styled spokesperson for Naxal operations in eastern Bihar, Avinash alias Arjun Yadav.

“The appeal made by all political parties, including Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Lalu Prasad and the pressure mounted by the Yadav community on caste leaders within the PLGA led to the release of Abhay, Rupesh and Ehsan. The government did nothing,” says Sambhu Yadav, Abhay’s uncle, who received the three captive policemen at 6 am in Simra Rari, a Naxalheld region of Lakhisarai.

POLICEMEN IN Bihar don’t want to fight the Naxals. They have AK-47 and INSAS rifles but aren’t trained for jungle warfare. They are not led by officers who lead from the front. They admit that the Naxal tactics are superior to theirs. “Why would a policeman want to die in the line of duty? I joined the police because it gives me power, influence and prestige. These villagers come to me because I am a bada babu. I joined for law and order duties, not engage Naxals in combat,” confesses Atul Kumar Mishra, the SHO of Chanan Police Station. He was waiting for the Banu Bagicha village chowkidar to return from the Morve Dam area, a stronghold of the Naxals, after they announced they would free the hostages.

Every rural police circle in Bihar has 23 village chowkidars who are paid Rs. 1,200 and used as informers and spotters. Mishra, camping at Banu Bagicha’s defunct Block Office, felt insecure in spite of 25 well-armed Special Auxiliary Police (SAP) accompanying him. “India can win the Kargil war but not this war, not this way,” he says.

 
No comfort The Kajra Police Station in its dilapidated glory

Policemen in Naxal-dominated areas have an informal standard operating procedure (SOP). First, stay out of areas that have Naxal presence. Second, after 6 pm, ensure that the station they are holed up in is well protected from a Naxal attack. The idea is not to fight back, but ensure that they don’t lose their lives. “I have trained 30 stray dogs. They don’t allow anyone inside the premises after dusk,” a policeman says. After 6 pm, any crime within a police station’s jurisdiction goes unattended till daybreak.

Meanwhile, Prasad can’t shake off his gloomy, introspective mood ever since 29 August. “We have no comforts. We don’t have a place to stay. Several police stations in Naxal-dominated areas are functioning from dilapidated, rented buildings. This police station used to be a Congress party office. We built our barrack by raising funds from local residents.

Our welfare must be taken care of for us to get mentally attuned to combat duty,” says Prasad.

Besides, they are trained for regular policing duties, not for combat operations. “I went through police training 25 years ago. Since then I haven’t had the chance to retrain and re-skill. I can aim and shoot, but don’t know what to do in a combat situation. I am not trained for jungle warfare. How can I survive an encounter with the Naxals in the jungles?” asks Prasad.

BIHAR POLICEMEN are seething with anger. “We will lose our jobs because service rules prohibit us from telling the truth,” says a policeman. There are a lot of uncertainties to be afraid of. “What if we are ordered into combat without planning? Death is certain.” The sight of their dead colleagues provoked the BMP personnel to thrash former Lakhisarai SP Ashok Singh for pushing them into a Naxal ambush. Senior officials, including IG (Operation) KS Dwivedi and ADG (Headquarters) PK Thakur denied that Singh was assaulted. Denials notwithstanding, he was transferred out of Lakhisarai three days after the incident.

“For 10 days prior to the 29 August encounter, we were alerted almost every day by intelligence reports of a Jehanabad- type attack in Lakhisarai. There are several Naxals imprisoned in the Lakhisarai jail. We were told that Naxals would attempt a jailbreak, attack the District Magistrate’s office and the CRPF camp at Kajra,” says Rajendra Prasad, a distressed sub-inspector of Kajra Police Station. This was corroborated by the commandant of CRPF’s 131 battalion, Bidhan Chandra Patra. “SP Ashok Singh told me that he received an intelligence input of 30 Naxals moving in the Lakhisarai forest. He said there was no specific input, just a generic alert and that he was putting together a team to conduct area domination exercise and get back. There was no intimation of the possibility of a gunbattle. So I passed instruction to assemble a team of 34 CRPF soldiers.”

Singh put together a force of 43 policemen, 20 from the SAP and 23 from the Bihar Military Police to launch combat operations. “Our intelligence input said that there were at least 500 Naxals in the hills. But the SP, in an unusually strange decision, put together a small combat force,” reveals Prasad. SI Bhulan Yadav, who was killed in the encounter, was inexperienced in counter-insurgency operations. Yet, he was deputed as the leader of the combat unit. Mishra, a close friend of Bhulan, was the last person to receive his call. “Bhulan called asking me to inform the SP to send reinforcements. Then his phone disconnected abruptly. I repeatedly called back but could not get through.”

Mishra and Prasad revealed that Singh did not follow the SOP laid down after the Dantewada massacre. “A detailed strategy is formulated, GPS coordinates are set before the force begins its movement. But Ashok Singh did not make a plan,” Mishra says. “He knew that we were operating in undulating, hilly forest terrain. He knew the topography. He should have been aware, going by the recent ambushes in Chhattisgarh that the Naxals will occupy higher ground and lure the policemen into a trap.” CRPF commandant Patra concurs. “The SOP was not followed. Once force is assembled the commanders discuss the terrain, topography and intelligence. This is explained to the troops using sand models and Survey of India maps,” he says.

   
Free men Abhay Yadav, Rupesh Sinha and Ehsan Khan after their release Big relief Yadav is welcomed home after his eight-day ordeal

Bhulan’s inexperience in combat operations resulted in splitting in the team splitting in two different directions. He asked the CRPF contingent to move towards the right and patrol the Ghaghar Ghati area and Morve Dam, while he moved in with his men towards Kanimai and Sitala Kodasi villages.

As the police party moved into the villages, they came under heavy fire from both sides. Bihar Police officers claim that when their men were ambushed, the CRPF troops withdrew instead of retaliating and providing cover fire to rescue the trapped men. “Our men regained higher ground to provide cover fire, which enabled 36 men to escape,” asserts Patra. That the Bihar Police surrendered is barely mentioned. “After we came under heavy fire, the Naxals kept announcing we should surrender or everyone would get killed. We surrendered because the CRPF withdrew,” says Abhay.

Bihar Police claim that when their men were ambushed, the CRPF troops withdrew instead of retaliating and providing cover

“They treated the injured personnel, bandaged those who were wounded, gave water to those who asked for it and asked them to leave. They collected all the weapons and asked four of us to accompany them into the jungle.” Later, the Naxals informed local journalists that they had seized 35 INSAS and AK-47 rifles.

The Bihar Police is facing a severe crisis of confidence. According to protocol, a deputy commandant of CRPF is equivalent to the rank of an SP. Yet, it is rare for a SP to go out for combat. “Officers don’t lead, they just pass orders. If senior officers can’t lead us on combat duty why should we put our lives in danger?” asks Yadav.

Naresh Kumar, who teaches at the Janta Mahavidyalaya, Surajgarha, emphasises his primary identity is that of a farmer. Surrounded by friends and villagers of Alinagar, Naresh, loses himself in a tirade against Bihar’s politicians. His list of complaints is long.

“Ration cards are not issued to people living below the poverty line in Alinagar; the widow pension scheme is on paper and not being implemented by the babus; those who can pay 60 percent commission to the gram sabha are availing subsidised housing loans through the Indira Awas Yojana; there are no free medicines either in public hospitals or primary health centres as promised by the government,” he says.

“If the bank manager is paid a bribe of Rs.5,000, he will process the land owner-ship certificate and promptly issue the Kisan Credit Card worth Rs 50,000; the Asha scheme for pregnant women with the objective of decreasing the Infant Mortality Rate and Maternal Mortality Rate is not being implemented as well,” he says.

‘Senior officers just pass orders. If seniors can’t lead us during combat, why should we put our lives in danger?’ asks Abhay

THE ALINAGAR locality in Lakhisarai is a microcosm of people’s sentiment in rural Bihar. They are sympathetic to the Naxalites. They don’t trust the State. The angry voices from the ground explain why the Maoist insurgency is expanding in Bihar. Nobody in Alinagar has benefited from the employment guarantee scheme, though it is officially under implementation. “All politicians work for those with money. The bureaucracy is always looking out to loot us. There is no equality. So why is everyone surprised by the growth of Naxals?” says Naresh.

Perhaps, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has sensed the mood of the people. “The pace of development has to be accelerated and corruption removed in execution of development schemes to uproot Naxalism,” he said at the Patna Medical College Hospital after meeting policemen injured in the 29 August encounter.

Perhaps, he should visit Banu Bagicha village, which is barely 5 km from the spot where captive policemen were released by the Naxals. The villagers have been waiting for eight years for the fully constructed Block Office to begin functioning. The district administration built an office complex but locked it up for “security” reasons.

In fact, four days before the 29 August skirmish, Lakhisarai DM Manish Kumar visited Banu Bagicha and told the villagers: “Hand over five Naxals and I will ensure the Block Office is made functional.” Banu Bagicha villagers walk 15 km to Mananpur Block Office for official documentation like land registration and securing caste certificates for jobs and educational purposes.

Phakira Yadav, a leading opinion maker of the village, quipped: “If the DM demands five Naxals to be handed over, isn’t it better if we join the Naxals? How can we hand over Naxals to the police? We are caught between the two gunwielding groups.”

PHOTOS: SHAILENDRA PANDEY

 

Brutal murder of four Lodha persons and serios assault on three other Lodhas

To
The Chairman,
Orissa State Human Rights Commission,
Toshali Plaza Complex ( 2nd Floor ),
Satya Nagar,
Bhubaneswar-751007.

Sub: Brutal murder of four Lodha persons and serios assault on three other Lodhas and
negligence on the part of police and administration in prevention of such Human Rights violation.

Sir,

It is a matter of great concern of Human Rights violation that on 10th October, 2010, about seven numbers of members of Lodha tribe of Mayrbhanj district were brutally assaulted under the jurisdiction of Baripada Sadar Police Station by a mob of some villagers of Baripada out of which four persons were declared dead in the hospital and three others are under treatment in critical condition.

According to reports published in different media,some people of the locality caught the above innocent persons near the forest at Gunjasahi in the allegation of theft and mercilessly assaulted them.

In an interview with OTV News on 11th October , 2010, Mayurbhanj D.S.P.
Shri Premanjan Parida stated that as per the police investigation the local villagers “caught
the thieves and beat them when they were returning after committing robbery .“

Lodhas are in focus of Anthropologists and Social Activists as they belong
to a premitive tribe . During the early British Rule the British Government in India oppressed the tribal people of Junggle Mahals who were traditionally dependant on the forest for living. They had revolted but were ruthlessly suppressed. During the British Rule, the Lodhas were declared as a Criminal Tribe in 1871. Subsequently after Independence, the Lodhas along with some other tribes were “ de-notified “ in 1956. Still the approach of the State did not change and they are branded as “ criminal tribe “ as a result of which they are not accepted in the society to live with diginity. They have no landed property and have no other alternative employment for their livelihood.

The Government has established a Lodha Development Agency for socio-economic development of Lodhas inhabiting in Suliapada and Morida Blocks of Mayurbhanj. But the present tragic incident gives a picture as a tip of the iceberg, that the Lodha Development Agency has played a very little role for the development of the Lodhas.

The incident on 10th October, 2010 in which loss of four precious human lives and serious injury of three others was caused in the allegtion of pretty theft, raises the following serious Human Rights issues:

(1). The brutal murder of four young and innocent tribals without any free, fair and public trial.
(3). The casual approach of Senior Police Officer in regard to this serious henious crime committed by the mob and failure of the police to apprehend
any of the assailtants.

(4). Utter failure of Lodha Development Agency for alround improvement of conditions of Lodhas.

(5). Utter failure of Employment Gurantee Programmes and other proverty allivation schemes foe improvement of condition of Lodhas.

(6). Improper inquiry of cases of theft and robberry in the jurisdiction of Baripada
Sadar Police Station and Kuliana Police Station.

(7).Lack of proper rehabilitation of Lodha premitive tribes to live with human diginity.

It is therefore prayed that this Honourable Commission, may take up this matter for inquiry in regard to the above issues along with others as deemed proper in the interest of broder human right prospective and to recommend the Government for exemplary action against the persons involved in the brutal assault and murder and the police officers for their approach towards the Lodha community and to implement time-bound rehabilitation scheme for the Lodha coimmunity to eneble them to live with human diginty and oblige.

Bhubaneswar.
19th October, 2010.

Prasanta Patnaik, Journalist.
Address for Correspondence:
5RF/5, Unit-3, M.G. Marg,
Bhubaneswar-751001, Dt. Khurda.
Mob: 9437005118. Biswapriya Kanungo, Advocate.
Complainants in person.


B.A. Samvartha (‘Sahil’)
Research Scholar
Theater and Performance Studies
School of Arts and Aesthetics
Jawaharlal Nehru University
New Delhi-67

Mobile: +919650163910 (Delhi)
           +919844121911 (Karnataka)
Blog: www.crazymindseye.wordpress.com

“I Am Caught In Endless Strife, Endless Ferment, Endless Dream. I Cannot Confirm To Life, Will Not Travel With The Stream.” (Karl Marx)

“I Will Never Die For My Beliefs, Because I May Be Wrong.” (Bertrand Russell)


Suresh Bhat Bakrabail
“Eesha Vasyam” 2-10-776
Bejai
Mangalore – 575 004
Tel: [0824]2225652

HOW TEHELKA NAILED MANIPUR POLICE’S LIES

Thirteen months after the exposé, the CBI charges nine policemen in the Sanjit fake encounter case

BY KUNAL MAJUMDER

 
 
The chargesheet corroborates Tehelka’s findings that Sanjit was made a scapegoat by Manipur Police

CHUNGKHAM TARATOMBI Devi’s fight for justice has yielded results. Fourteen months after her son Chungkham Sanjit Singh Meitei was killed in a fake encounter by Manipur Police, the CBI has filed a chargesheet against nine of the 14 accused policemen. Exposés in TEHELKA by Teresa Rehman (Murder in Plain Sight, 8 August 2009) and Shoma Chaudhury (Life in a Shadow Land, 15 August 2009) had detailed the coldblooded murder. Photographs published along with the story revealed the entire sequence of Sanjit’s death.

The chargesheet filed by the CBI on 9 September this year in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Imphal, corroborates TEHELKA’s findings. It reveals how, on 23 July 2009, commandos led by then Imphal City Police Station in-charge Munal Singh picked up Sanjit from BT Road, took him inside the storeroom of a pharmacy and shot him dead. The CBI also found out that the 9 mm Mauser gun found on Sanjit was planted by the police.

That day, Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh told the Manipur Assembly that Sanjit was a People’s Liberation Army militant and was responsible for shooting six civilians. (The PLA is the armed wing of the Revolutionary People’s Front). The CBI now reveals that it was the police that was involved in the random shooting on BT Road that killed a pregnant woman, Rabina Devi. Sanjit was just a bystander who was made the scapegoat.

On 25 August 2009, Sanjit’s mother approached the Gauhati High Court seeking justice. The court handed over the case to the CBI. Two days later, the Manipur government instituted a one-man commission of inquiry led by Justice PG Agarwal, a retired judge of the Gauhati High Court. Both TEHELKA’s Managing Editor Shoma and then Northeast Correspondent Teresa deposed before the commission and were interrogated by the CBI. Photographs in TEHELKA’S possession were shared with the probe team.

The commission asked TEHELKA reporters to name their sources and the name of the photographer who had captured the damning evidence. But they refused. After the exposé, journalists and activists in Imphal tried to deter TEHELKA journalists from visiting Manipur. “We cannot assure your safety,” they warned. “The commandos are looking everywhere for the photographer who gave you the pictures.”

TODAY, THE chief minister is not available for comment. “He is too busy with the Pradesh Congress Committee elections. He doesn’t have time for the people. The people of Manipur are grateful to TEHELKA for this exposé,” says a senior minister on condition of anonymity.

In the dark shadow land of Manipur, Sanjit was one among hundreds of young men and women who had disappeared, been raped or killed. Justice may be steps away for Sanjit’s ema (mother in Manipuri) but it remains an illusion for many others.


 kunal@tehelka.com

human rights defender under arrest, illegal detention in a fabricated charge

To,

                                                                                                                                     20th October 2010

The Chairman

National Human Rights Commission

Faridkot House

Copernicus Marg

New Delhi-110001

 

 

Respected Sir,

 

In another incident of gross violation of Constitutional rights and legal mandates, on 18.9.2010 the police

personnel attached with Jhargram Police Station with the help of the members of Joint Force operating in the

police district- Jhargram, district – West Medinipur, West Bengal arbitrarily arrested and detained the victim, a

human rights defender and also a renowned folk artist (singer) without showing any reason. Starting from the

time of arrest the arresting police personnel violated legal mandates at every step as they did not disclose any

reason for the arrest, no Memo of Arrest was prepared at the time and place of arrest, the victim was detained in

a police camp for more than 24 hours without producing him before the nearest judicial magistrate. More

surprisingly the victim had no charge against him at the time of his arrest as he was only tagged with a criminal

case which was started by the police of Jhargram Police Station after several hours since his arrest. Our

attached fact finding report gives details of the incident.

The incident again shows that the police in West Bengal are more apt to violate the mandatory provisions of our

Constitution and of Criminal Procedure Code. We strongly condemn this heinous attack on the victim and high

handedness of police of West Bengal.

The victim, being a folk artist (singer), devoted his life for the promotion of rich cultural and social heritage of the

marginalized section of indigenous people living in the forest area and trying to protect the rights of those people

and their culture. As a human rights defender he also raised his voice on different times against the killings by

the State and also by the non-state actors (Maoists).

We express our sincere concern in respect to the safety of the human rights defender at the hands of the police

and administration and seek urgent intervention so as to see that the law of the land prevails in true spirit and

action. Such heinous attack upon a human rights activist amounts to a direct threat to safety and security of the

people working in the fields of protecting the rights of our countrymen. This being a crucial case and important

for the protection of human rights defender, we seek the urgent intervention of the commission in the following

manner:-

• carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the incident of illegal arrest and

detention of the victim with a view to bring those responsible to justice in accordance with international

standards;

• The charges brought against the victim are politically motivated; hence, the victim must be freed from all

charges immediately.

• Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological security and integrity of the

victim and all other human rights defenders.

• Guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders in India are able to carry out their legitimate

human rights activities without fear of reprisals, and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.

• The authorities should also create an enabling environment and ensure respect for the rights of

individuals in West Bengal engaged in the peaceful promotion of respect for human rights.

Thanking You,

Yours truly,

Kirity Roy

Secretary, MASUM & National Convener of PACTI

Name of the victim:- Mr. Ajit Mahato, son of Mukunda Mahato, aged about-30 years, by faith-Hindu, by

caste-Schedule caste(Kurmi), residing at village-Golbandi, Police Station-Jhargram, District-West Medinipur,

West Bengal, India.

Name of the perpetrators:- (i) The police personnel of Manikpara Police Camp under Jhargram Police

Station and the members of the Joint Force who were involved in the arrest of the victim; (ii) Mr. Md. Julfikar

Molla, Inspector-in-Charge of Jhargram Police Station and also being the Investigating Officer of Jhargram

Police Station Case no. 280/2010 dated 18.9.2010.

Place of incident: – At the residence of the victim at village-Golbandi, Police Station-Jhargram, District-

West Medinipur, West Bengal.

Date & time of incident: – On 18.9.2010 at about 6.30 am.

Case Details: -

The following facts came out during our fact finding that the victim is a folk artist (singer) and for several

years he has been presenting songs of an ancient music theme named “Jhumur” which mainly represents the

cultural and social background of the people living in jungles particularly in West Bengal. He is a very

popular singer and people know him a devoted folk artist.

On 18.9.2010 at about 6.30 am suddenly the police personnel of Manikpara Police Camp under Jhargram

Police Station and the members of the Joint Force (it is combined of Para-military forces such as Central

Reserve Police (CRP), Border Security Force (BSF), etc and it is operating in the area to curb down the

Maoist’s activities) encircled the residence of the victim. At that time the victim was taking bath in the

bathroom. The police personnel and the members of the Joint Force entered into his house and ransacked the

household articles. The victim was dragged out from the bathroom and arrested. The arresting police

personnel neither disclosed any reason for the apprehension of the victim not prepared any “Memo of Arrest”

at the time and place of arrest.

The victim immediately after the arrest was taken to Manikpara Police Camp and he was detained there. On

that day (18.9.2010) he was not produced before any nearest judicial magistrate. During his detention neither

he was told about the reason for his apprehension instead of his repeated requests in this regard nor did he get

any chance to meet with his family members.

On the next day i.e. 19.9.2010 at about 10 am he was taken to the court of Additional Chief Judicial

Magistrate, Jhargram and detained in the court lock-up. The family members of the victim engaged one

advocate for the victim in order to take appropriate step and move in the court for release of the victim from

custody. It was then revealed that the victim was implicated in a criminal case vide Jhargram Police Station

Case no. 280/2010 dated 18.9.2010 under sections 147(punishment for rioting)/148(Rioting, armed with

deadly weapons)/149(every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of

common object)/120B(punishment for criminal conspiracy)/121(waging, or attempt to wage war or abetting

waging of war against the Government of India)/121A(conspiracy to commit offences punishable by Section

121 /122(collecting arms, etc., with intention of waging war against the Government of India/124(Assaulting

President Governor, etc., with intent to compel or restrain the exercise the of any lawful

power)/124A(Sedition) of Indian Penal Code and Section 3 & 4 of Explosive Substances Act.

The aforesaid criminal case was slapped on the victim upon a written complaint (First Information Report)

received by Jhargram Police Station on 18.9.2010 at 18.40 hours in the letter pad of “Democratic Youth

Federation of India”, Lodhasuli Local Committee, Lodhasuli, West Medinipur. The said “Democratic Youth

Federation of India”, is a sister organization of the ruling political party i.e. Communist Party of India

(Marxist) in West Bengal. In gist it was alleged in the said complaint that the victim and several other men

being members of Maoist group exploded a land mine at the party office of CPI (M) at Lodhasuli and

demolished the same on 12.9.2010 at around 1.00/1.30 hrs.

On 19.9.2010 the victim was later released from custody on bail by strength of the order passed by the court

of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Jhargram. The said Judicial Magistrate while passing of the order for

release of the victim on bail considered the following facts inter alia into his judicial notice that- (i)the alleged

incident as written in the FIR had taken place on 12.9.2010 but the same (FIR) has been lodged in the police

station on 18.9.2010; (ii) prima facie the allegation of demolition of the local party office of a political party

does not seem to have attracted the offence of waging war; (iii) no seizure was effected from the possession of

the accused (victim) which can prima facie loose out him out in the offence under section 3 & 4 of Explosive

Substance Act.

The victim in writing confirmed before our fact finding team that he was arrested on 18.9.2010 in the

morning at about 6.30 am. The time of arrest was also corroborated by the other eye witnesses of that locality.

But the complaint (FIR) as stated above against the victim and other men was received by the police of

Jhargram Police Station on 18.9.2010 at 18.40 hours upon which the police started Jhargram Police Station

Case no. 280/2010 dated 18.9.2010. It is therefore clear that the police arrested the victim without having any

definite charge against him at the time of his arrest and later implicated him in a criminal case upon a

complaint which is politically motivated and manufactured to relate the victim with Maoist activities. Mr. Ajit

Mahato is very well known figure in the area for his concrete opinion against annihilation policy carried out

by the Maoists.

This incident clearly points at the unholy nexus between the police and criminal elements of the ruling

political party to give effect to their immoral gain and harass the innocent people for the sake of their vested

interest.

Police received the

complaint at 18.40 hrs

 

Kirity Roy
Secretary
Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha
(MASUM)
&
National Convenor (PACTI)
Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity
26 Guitendal Lane
Howrah 711101
West Bengal INDIA
Mobile: 09903099699
Tele Fax : +91-33-2640 4118
Phone: +91-33-2640 4520
e. mail :
kirityroy@gmail.com
Web: www.masum.org.in