30 year-old Mangri Honhanga along with her 4 month-old son Dula Honhanga and other family-members had desperately come to Ranchi the capital city of Jharkhand after travelling for more than 6 hours right from Saranda forest in West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand last week with the hope of getting justice. Both the mother and child have been suffering from illness – Dula is grade-3 malnourished patient and Mangri has been suffering from anaemia but they have no choice rather than facing all kinds of sufferings. The life was little better for them before 2 bullets of COBRA Jawans end the life of 38 year-old Mangal Honhanga the father of Dula and Mangri’s husband. Therefore, they had come to share their pains, sufferings and agony with the Chief Minister, the Top cops and of course, with the Media. Mangri Honhanga only knows that her husband was picked-up by the police from her house, taken to the forest and finally dead body was handed over to her.
Suniya Honhanga (27) and Ronde Honhaga (25) both the younger brothers of Lt. Mangal Honhanga are eyewitnesses of the brutal killing of their elder brother Mangal Honhanga narrated and exposed that what had happened with them in the forests at the end of June. Though the monsoon was on its pick-hour but the sky was clear and the morning was sunny on June 28, 2011. It was 10 O’clock in the morning when Suniya Honhanga and Mangal Honhanga were having mangoes in the courtyard of their house, they had just returned after ploughing the paddy field. Suddenly, they noticed the arrival of more than 300 security personals in their village called ‘Baliba’, situated at Chhotanagra police station in Saranda forest, which is indeed the heaven of the corporate sharks and also the abode of the Maoists.
The Superintendent of Police (West Singhbhum) Arun Kumar and CRPF commandant Lalchand Yadav were leading the operation. The forces caught Suniya Honhanga and Mangal Honhanga and took them to “Chabutra” (public sitting place in the middle of village) and asked all the villagers to reach to the spot. Once the villagers gathered, the forces tied all of them (men, women and children) with ropes collected from the village itself. The SP, CRPF Commandant and Jawans abused and threatened the villagers to face dire consequences if they don’t stop feeding, sheltering and supporting the Maoists. The villagers were kept whole the night in tied position. On the next day, 6 villagers were put in a chopper of Indian Air Force and transported to undisclosed location and another 16 villagers including Mangal Honhanga and Ronde Honhanga were asked to go with the paramilitary forces to the forest. But luckily, Suniya Honhanga was escaped.
Ronde Honhanga narrates the further developments in the forests. All the 16 villagers were asked to carry the luggage of the paramilitary forces whole day without food and water. In the night they were asked to sleep in the forest itself. On 30, June, the security forces asked them to move towards Chhotanagra police station. Hence, they started travelling at 3 O’clock in the morning. Meanwhile, Mangal Honhanga and another villager Tasu Sidu stop for a while and Mangal Honhanga took side for toilet. The COBRA Jawans assumed that Mangal Honhanga is running away. Therefore, they fired three times – one bullet in sky and two bullets on Mangal Honhanga. Consequently, he fell on the ground and died there. Tasu Sidu witnessed it. Immediately, the Jawans wrapped the dead body and didn’t show the villagers unless they reached to Chhotanagra police station. The dead body was transported to Chaibasa for post-mortem and finally, the police handed over the dead body and sent all the 15 villagers to Baliba village.
The SP Arun Kumar organized a press conference in Chaibasa and told the media persons about their grand success in anti-naxal operations. However, he accepted that Mangal Honhanga was innocent villager and a bullet of the security forces hit him while there was crossfire between the security forces and the Maoists. However, the villagers unearthed the truth, according to them there was no exchange of any fire; it was a clear case of brutal killing by the security forces. Since, the villagers knew the truth therefore, the top cops asked the officer-in-charge of Chhotanagra police station to offer compensation package to the family members of the deceased. Rs. 3 lakh and a job were offered to the family members. Ironically, the death certificate does not state the cause of death. This is one of the classic examples of killing, denial and manipulation by the police and security forces while carrying on the so-called anti-naxal joint operations.
In another similar case, the police killed a villager and coined it as the result of crossfire. On 18 August, 2011 the security forces arrive to Baliba village again. They caught 6 villagers including Ladura Barjo, Mangal Barjo, Sanika Barjo, Dubiya Barjo, Mangra Guria and Soma Guria. These people were taken to “Chabutra” of the village and, kicked and severely beaten with stick, tiles and butt of the guns. Consequently, Soma Guria fell down and became unconscious. In the evening at 5 O’clock, the security forces took them to the forest. Soma Guria was not able to walk but he was dragged towards the forest and all 6 villagers were severly beaten by the security forces in the forest. According to the eyewitness, when Soma Guria died due to injuries in the forest, the security forces fired two bullets in his chest. On 20 August, the family members were handed over the dead body of Soma Guria and told that he was killed in crossfire between the Police and the Maoists.
In fact, the security forces land to any village, rob the houses, catch the innocent villagers, torture them, exploit women and shoot the man, and finally, they hand over the dead bodies to the family members after couple of day and tell that their man was killed in the crossfire. Thus, the endless inhuman acts of the security forces continue in the Saranda forest. The villagers are tired of sharing their pains, sufferings and agony. But do they have any choice? The security forces captured the house containing a ration shop of Patur Gagrai of Tiril Polshi village on August 3. He is also the president of village education committee. The police blame that he supplies ration to the Maoists. In another case, the security forces raped 3 women in Karampada village on August 1 and 15 people were picked up from Hatnaburu village on August 24 alleging them as members of the CPI-Maoists without any proof. The fact is, whenever, the security forces go for the anti-naxal operation, and they victimize the innocent villagers. The billion dollar question is, can the security forces rape women and kill the men in cold-blooded murder even if they are member of the CPI-Maoists?
The story does not end here. When the Jharkhand Human Rights Movement (JHRM) intervened and exposed the killings of Mangal Honhanga and Somu Guria by the security forces, the top cops started branding the JHRM as Maoist’s organization. The Kolhan DIG Naveen Kumar said, “The allegations by the family are Maoist sponsored. It is just to harass and disrupt police operations.” He also said that Mangal Honhanga was a rebel. Similarly, the IG and spokesperson of Jharkhand Police R.K. Mullick said that Mangal Honhanga had some explosive with him. What a brilliant idea of the top cops of Jharkhand for coining an innocent Adivasi as Maoist to bury their inhuman acts. However, when there was ample pressure, the Inspector General of Police did inquiry and found that both Mangal Honhanga and Soma Guria were innocent Adivasi and the security forces shot them when they declined to follow their instructions. The irony is still, the Home Secretary and the Director General of Police are tirelessly attempting to coin both the killings as results of the crossfire.
The most important point is, speaking about rights has become crime in the largest democratic country on the earth especially, when the rights are for the under privilege communities. However, if you speak for the middle class or upper middle class, you’ll become the hero. Perhaps, second Gandhi, second Nehru or Second Patel. For instance, when the teachers of thousand of public and private schools asked their children (students) to take part in Anna Hazare’s movement after deserting their studies, it was glamorized by the 24×7 news channel instead of questioning and taking action against the teachers. In another similar case, when the poor children took part in a movement against POSCO project in the state of Odisha, the state government threatened the organizers for taking action against them in the name of violating the child rights. What kind of democracy is this?
Indeed, it’s very clear that if you stand against the police atrocities and reluctant to be alienated from the natural resources (land, forest and mineral), you’ll be coined as the extremists. Precisely, because both – questioning against police atrocities and displacement ultimately expose the corporate nexus with the government’s anti naxal-operations for mineral interest. Obviously, the Indian state bothers about the ‘threat to the investment climate’ rather than protecting its citizen’s rights and the constitution. Though the Jharkhand police have accepted the killing of Mangal Honhanga and Soma Guria but my assumption is, the family members would be shut up with the compensation packages and the cops will enjoy impunity as usual.
When I completed this piece, a report appeared in the news paper, which states that the Adivasis of Tholkabad village in Saranda Forest have vacated their village and went to elsewhere in fear of the police torture. Since, right from the beginning, when I started writing on so-called anti-Naxal operations, I have been mentioning that the ‘Operation Green Hunt’ was launched with the clear intention to create fear, insecurity and livelihood crisis in the villages so that the villages would leave the vicinity. Consequently, the government can hand over the Adivasis land to the corporate shark comfortable. The Jharkhand government has allotted iron-ore to 19 steel companies including Mittal, Jindal, Tata, Atro-Steel and Torian in Saranda Forest. Therefore, of course, they want to clear the land.
Gladson Dungdung is a Human Rights Activist and Writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org