“I was briefed by the Commander and CHM prior to departure for the LRP (long range patrolling), not to fire on anybody unless the Maoists in uniform or anyone found carrying lethal weapons. I was not in any kind of mental pressure either. However, I had signalled the vehicle to stop, but instead of stopping, it had attempted to hit me therefore, I fired two rounds of bullets aiming at the tyres of the TATA Magic vehicle in self defence”. This is a revelation of a CRPF Jawan of 134th battalion Jaswant Singh, whose bullets ended up the life of 39 year-old innocent driver Devendra Yadav, and brought dark into his family before the dawn in last January. Ironically, some of the top cops have also been attempting to shield him though he has committed a gross violation of human rights by taking away the right to life of an innocent driver guaranteed under the Indian Constitution. The Tata Magic’s driver Devendar Yadav was a resident of Jankopa village comes under Barun police station in Aurangabad district of Bihar. The CRPF Jawan, Jaswant Singh had shot him at NH-75 in Sultan valley of Palamu district of Jharkhand on January 16, 2012 during the LRP. The incident took place in the night, when Ajit Singh the owner of TATA Magic vehicle and his driver Devendar Yadav were going to drop the labourers in their native village at Kanda of Palamu. Since, the CPI-Maoists had called for one day Bandh (blockade) therefore; the CRPF Jawans and the district police under the leadership of the police inspector S.N. Jha and the CRPF Commander Kuldip Singh were patrolling at the Sultan valley on the basis of the Intelligence Agencies’ input about the Maoists’ presence in the region.
It was around 9:30 in the night when a TATA Magic vehicle was crossing through the Sultan valley and the CRPF Jawans attempted to stop the vehicle but the driver didn’t stop. Of course, there are some obvious reasons for the denial of driver to the CRPF’s signal. Since, the Maoists had called for a bandh and Devendra Yadav was driving vehicle against their call therefore, perhaps, he was afraid and couldn’t identify the CRPF Jawans, hence he accelerated the vehicle with the intension to get out of the region immediately. Secondly, since, it was night therefore; he might have also assume of being victimized by the CRPF Jawans hence, he didn’t stop the vehicle as there are number of cases of the innocent people being victimized by the Security Forces. However, when the vehicle didn’t stop, CRPF Jawan, Jawant Singh fired on the vehicle. Consequently, driver Devendar Yadav died in the spot and Ajit Singh got bullets injuries and admitted to RIMS, Ranchi. Ironically, a case of unintentional murder under the sections 304 and 308 of IPC and Section 27 of Arms Act was filed in Chhatarpur police station against unknown CRPF Jawans though it was very clear that the CRPF Jawan, Jaswant Singh had fired on the TATA Magic vehicle, which led to death of Devendar Yadav.
The superintendent of police (SP), Palamu, Anup T. Mathew, had then termed the case as a freak accident with the clear intension to shield the Jawan. According to him, around 9:30 pm, the security personnel had signalled the vehicle to stop for security reasons but it accelerated. The Jawan had then opened fire at the vehicle, which led to death of driver. After investigation of the case, a human rights organization, the “Jharkhand Human Rights Movement had filed a complaint to the National Human Rights Commission and pleaded for a high level inquiry into the case, stringent action against the perpetrators and compensation to the family of deceased. Consequently, the NHRC intervened on the matter and sought for a report from the Superintendent of Police, Palamu. Hence, a magisterial enquiry was established and fact was revealed.
The Additional Collector (land reforms and Naxal) Palamu, Rajan Choudhary, who was in-charge of the investigation, has submitted an investigation report to the Deputy Commissioner of Palamu along with the necessary documents and VCD of the post-mortem. The core findings of the investigation describe that the CRPF Jawan, Jaswant Singh had fired two rounds of bullets on the TATA Magic vehicle, which hit the left leg, left hand and left chest of Devendra Yadav, led to his death at the spot. The report further reads that the CRPF Jawans were briefed by the senior officers prior to the LRP and told them only to fire at Maoists in uniform or anyone found carrying lethal weapons.
The report further reads that after the incident, the police didn’t find any weapon or Naxal’s uniform from the spot, which clearly indicates that the CRPF Jawan has defied his duty by firing on the vehicle against the order. Surprisingly, the Magistrate didn’t recommend for action against the CRPF Jawan. Meanwhile, the Superintendent of Police (Palamu) has handed over the case to the CID for further investigation, which will put a question mark on the process of investigation. As usual, one after another investigation will be done in this case as well, till the CRPF Jawan, Jawant Singh is proved to be an innocent. This is a process of delaying justice to the family of the deceased, which will ensure the denial of justice and of course, the growth of Naxalism in the region. Indeed, it is an established fact that in all most each and every case of killing, rape and torture by the security forces is dealt in the same manner and the justice is always denied to the victims.
However, the top cops have applauded the report and fixed the responsibility on the CRPF. An IG rank officer while reacting on the report to the Media said, “It’s a good report. The police have pointed out the right thing in the investigation, but there is no excuse. It was a cold blooded murder.” He further said, “During night duty especially in the Naxal dominated areas people tend to drive their vehicles faster than during normal conditions. If a vehicle is speeding at more than 60 kmph, it is not possible for the driver to stop the vehicle instantly.” The statements give a clear sense about the internal fraction between the Jharkhand police and the CRPF precisely, because the same cops never accept their fault whenever the same crime is committed by the police Jawans. Obviously, the top cops of the Jharkhand police are annoyed with the CRPF personals because; they don’t listen to the Police and victimize the innocent villagers during the anti-Naxal operations in the state. Consequently, at the end of the day, the Jharkhand police have to carry the burden of alleged human rights violation and become villain in the eyes of the common people.
Indeed, the killing of innocent people in so-called crossfire has become one of the core issues for the state. Recently, the issue was raised twice in the Jharkhand Legislative Assembly by MLAs, Bandhu Tirkey and Vinod Singh but the government seems to be non-serious on it. The recent released, ‘Jharkhand Human Rights Report 2001-2011’ also exposes about the killing of 550 people in the crossfire and arrest of 4372 people after branding them as Naxals in the state in last decade. However, the Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda terms all the victims as Naxals. He said while speaking to the Media that the Security forces have killed 559 Naxals in the crossfire and arrested 4530 Naxals in last 11 years. However, the killing is a gross violation of denial of the right to life, and at the same time, the Supreme Court has also sought response from the Centre and all stats governments on the issue of fake encounters therefore; there should be the CBI probe in all kinds of killing in the state, which will clear the dark cloud. Otherwise, the more and more innocent people will be killed in the name of so-called self-defence and the perpetrators will always enjoy impunity as they have been doing in the largest democratic country on the earth.
Gladson Dungdung is a Human Rights Activist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org