General

Mining, Adivasis and the Corona Pandemic

By Gladson Dungdung

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30-year-old Raju Champia (name changed), resident of Chiria village located in the middle of Saranda forest in West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand, had migrated to Bangalore in search of a job. While working as a labourer in a construction site, he got infected with Covid-19, but wasn’t aware about it. When the countrywide lockdown was declared, he lost his job and was forced to return to his village.

At the outskirts of the village, however, he realized that the villagers had barricaded the village with bamboos. Forced, hence, to go to the quarantine centre, he was further shocked to be declared corona positive.

There are several migrant workers like Raju Champia in Saranda forest, who have been infected with virus and are now struggling to save their precious lives in the quarantines centres. The case of Chiria mines unmasks India’s development paradigm, which everyone must understand.

The Chiria iron-ore mines, named after the village called Chiria, is operated by the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL), which is India’s largest Iron Ore producer/miner with reserves of 2,000 million tonnes. Chiria Mines is the most extensive iron ore mines in the Saranda forest, covering about 2376 hectares, which is 3 per cent of the entire Forest.[1] The SAIL has been carrying out mining activities at Chiria since 1938. The SAIL operates five integrated steel plants based at Bokaro, Bhilai, Rourkela, Durgapur and Burnpur, which fully depend on the iron-ore of Chiria mines[2].

119058_n-e1440823649131The SAIL produces 16.30 million metric tons of steel per annum and close to 69,808 are employed[3]. Ironically, the SAIL has failed to provide employment to the local Adivasis like Raju Champia, whose livelihood resources were destroyed by their mining activities and has forced many to migrate to cities for their livelihood. The government despite claiming that they would provide jobs to local communities through the mining and industrialisation has, thus far not lived up to any of these promises.

Although the SAIL is a government of India undertaking, in functioning, it is no different from that of a private mining company. SAIL, in fact, not only denies jobs to the Adivasis, it has also shamelessly gone about destroying their agricultural lands and throwing them behind the bars when they have protested. In 1990,  SAIL extended its mining activities in Chiria, and illegally sub-leased the excavation work to an Orissa based private mining company, ‘ORS India Ltd’, a unit of the Adhunik group, which was actively carrying out mining activities near Dubil village ─ located almost opposite to  Chiria village.

Children on barren land cause by miningInterestingly, ORS India Ltd, did not acquire the lands from the villagers. Instead, because the mining activities have been carried out at the top of the hill above the village, the mining waste descends directly onto their paddy fields during the rainy season. This has been happening for the last two decades. Consequently, 100 acres of fertile agricultural land has turned barren in the last two decades, without the villages receiving any compensation[4]. The company claims that since it did not acquire the land from the villagers, it has no obligation to compensate the land owners. This is how ORS India Ltd tries to disown responsibility. The villagers didn’t just lose 100 acres of fertile land; they also lost a stream which was their life line, Dolbati Jharna. The mining dust, red mud and red water have had hugely detrimental impacts on the health and livelihood system of these villagers.

Since they had lost their major source of livelihood, inhabitants of Dubil and neighbouring communities organised a meeting, and decided to fight for their rights. In June 2011, they went to the company’s office to demand jobs, and staged a protest there. As a result, the company’s General Manager, Guchait Iqubal, filed a case against six key villagers – Ramlal Champia, Sukhram Champia, Mohan Hansada, Ramkishan Tudu, Budhram Bading and Ram Hansada, alleging that they were holding the company to ransom. On the basis of this complaint, the police arrested many villagers, and locked them up in Jail for 13 days. It is also peculiar that stations are always proactive in Saranda whenever they are asked to take any legal or illegal action to protect the interests of mining companies.

DSCN6568Another interesting episode in the entire story is that 50 villagers from Dubil have been working in Chiria as casual mining labour since 1991, but none of them were regularised[5]. The Company’s unfair rules allow regularisation only after someone has worked as a casual labour for three year in a row, yet these villagers were not regularized even after working as casual labourer for a decade. Thus, villagers who lost their agricultural livelihoods are forced to become daily wage labourers. The agriculture land is covered by iron dust; the waters of the streams and river and other water bodies has turned red and the entire environment is polluted. The iron ore mining has destroyed the livelihood of the Adivasis. Consequently, the villagers of Dubil, Chiria and other neighbouring villages are forced to migrate to the cities.

IMG_2905Presently, the Adivasis are trapped from all corners. On the one hand, the mining activities have destroyed their livelihood resources, and on the other, they get infected with the Covid-19 virus when they migrate to the cities in search of jobs. A billion-dollar question is how will they survive?

The Corona pandemic has exposed the ugly face of the corporate model of development, which has looted the natural resources under the guise of growth and development, and brought tears and inflicted even hardship on the Adivasis.

[1] Forest Clearance for SAIL’s Chiria Iron ore mines, by the Ministry of Environment and Forest (Govt. of India), 2011.

[2]http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/modification/Amendment/Attach_file/01122016IE32O62Wpfrandenvstudyreport.pdf

[3] https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/indl-goods/svs/steel/sail-produced-16-15-million-tone-of-crude-steel-in-fy-2019-20/articleshow/75294120.cms?from=mdr

[4] Dungdung, Gladson. 2015. Mission Saranda: A War for Natural Resources in India. New Delhi: Prithivi Publications. Pp 60.

[5] Ibid.

General

Corona Pandemic and Adivasi Labourers

By Gladson Dungdung

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Corona Pandemic had hit India at the end of January 2020. The MBBS students studying in Wuhan city of China, carried the virus with them unknowingly while returning home to enjoy their summer vacation. Later, the international tourists, NRIs, Indian tourists, students and Tabhlighi Jamaties became Corona carriers, and carried it across the country. When the Covid-19 spread in India, the Prime Minister Modi declared the country wide lockdown without discussion and consent of the Chief Ministers of states. The lockdown hit mostly the workers/ labourers, who depend on medium and small size businesses, real-estate and small industries for their survival.

The business entities, real-estate and industries were shut down. Consequently, approximately, 400 million workers/labourers[1] became jobless in one day. They were desperately waiting for reopening of the workplaces but the aggressive Covid-19 denied it. India was forced to extend the lockdown for four times. It was heartbreaking for the workers/labourers. They had nothing left to eat. Besides, the terror of Covid-19 overshadowed them. They lost their patience and decided to walk on the highways for thousand kilometers to reach their homes. A few of them died on the way caused by sunstroke, dehydration, scarcity of food and unavailability of healthcare facilities. Couple of pregnant women delivered their babies on the highways. Shockingly, after delivery, they walked for miles in the heat. Thousands of workers/labourers were also severely injured.

Who are these labourers? Why do they migrate to the cities? Why do they remain poor forever even after doing hard work every day? Why were they forced to walk on the highways? Who is responsible for the loss of many lives during the lockdown? These are some overwhelming questions one needs to answer. However, instead of finding answers, I would like to focus on the Adivasis, the Indigenous Peoples of India, who are 8 percent of the total population with approximately 104 million people. These people live in the natural resource rich regions of India, mostly the coal, iron-ore, Bauxite, etc. But the most interesting fact is that they don’t find jobs in the mining companies, which operate in their territories under the tag of development, economic growth and job opportunities. Hence, they are forced to migrate to the cities for their survival.

The state of Jharkhand is a crucial example to understand the dichotomy. The state has 40 percent of mineral resources[2] of India and 46 percent of its people are below poverty line[3]. However, 60% of Adivasis and Dalits (untouchables) are still below poverty line in the state. Presently, the state is producing about 160 million tonnes of various minerals annually, worth Rs. 15,000 crore[4]. So, it can also be called the rich state of poor masses.

The most shocking factor is that the Adivasis, who are presiding over the mineral wealth, are the poorest masses in the country, forced to migrate to the cities. The corona pandemic has fully exposed the corporate model of growth and development, which is bound to increase economic inequality. There are thousands of mining, Steel, power and other companies like Tata, Jindal, Asser, Vedanta, SAIL, etc. operating in the state for decades but they have miserably failed in providing jobs to the local Adivasis and other labourers. Instead, they have alienated them from their livelihood resources.

While monitoring Covid-19 cases, Chief Minister of Jharkhand, accepted that his government is batting hard for the safe return of 810,000 labourers to the state. Most of these labourers are either Adivasis or Dalits. A billion dollar question is why do these people are forced to migrate to the cities despite presiding over the mineral wealth?

The iron-ore rich Saranda forest of Jharkhand is an example to understand the main reason of Adivasis migrating to the cities. I’m bringing it here precisely because a few of Adivasis, who had migrated to the city of Bangalore and elsewhere, have returned to the forest after infected with Covid-19. ‘Saranda’ literally means a ‘land of seven hundred hills’[5] situated in the hilly tract of West Singhbhum district in the state of Jharkhand. The forest covers an area of approximately 847 square kilometers,[6] which is the abode of the Ho and Munda Adivasis. Approximately 25,000 Adivasi families, with a total population of about 1,25,000 people,[7] reside in the forest. Their economy is agro-forest-based. They used to agriculture practices, collection of minor forest products and rearing livestock.

Saranda Forest is estimated to contain 25% of the total iron ore of the country, which is itself a record. The exploitation of Saranda’s iron ore began in the early 20th century with the establishment of the Tata company,  whose principal mines at Noamundi were exploited since 1925[8] deprived the Adivasis from their livelihood resources. Their agricultural lands were acquired without respite, they were not given any job and collection of forest produces was also denied. They had no place to graze the livestock. They were forced to migrate from the region. As soon as mining activities multiplied, the miseries of Adivasis too multiplied.

Presently, 50 mining iron ore leases are operational, covering an area of 14,410.07 hectares. Besides, the Jharkhand government has sanctioned 22 new leases to several national and multinational companies, including Arcellor Mittal Company, Tata Steel, Jindal Steel & Power Ltd, JSW, Bhushan Steel & Power Ltd, Essar Steel Ltd, and Electro Steel Casting Ltd. Once these 22 new mining projects, which are in different stages of approval, are given the go ahead, an additional 9337.54 hectares, or more than one-seventh of Saranda Forest, will be opened up for mining,[9] which is indeed a severe threat to the continued existence of Adivasis and Saranda Forest itself, with all its outstanding wild life.

The mining activities have forced the Adivasis to migrate to the cities and elsewhere for earning. However, the covid-19 has forced them to return to their native, where they hardly have houses to live in. The major question is how would they survive? Who is responsible for making them resources less, landless and miserable? Can the State be held accountable?

[1] https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/covid-19-crisis-can-push-40-crore-informal-sector-workers-in-india-deeper-into-poverty-ilo/articleshow/75032778.cms?from=mdr

[2] https://www.newsclick.in/Jharkhand-Polls-Mineral-Wealth-Going

[3] https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/45258/

[4] Jharkhand the Land of Mines and Minerals, 2011-12

[5] The Forest Resource Survey, Chaibasa, 2006.

[6] Ibid.

[7] ‘Saranda Myth Pictured,’ CRPF Newsletter, Vol.7, April 2012.

[8] Forest Resource Survey, Chaibasa South – 2006.

[9] Bera. Sayantan  2012. ‘Between Maoists and Mines’, Down to Earth, April 16-30.

General, Ground Report

Land Bank and Forest Rights

By Gladson Dungdung

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A village called ‘Perka’ is situated at Murhu development block in Khunti district of Jharkhand, which is approximately 55 kilometers from Ranchi, the capital city of Jharkhand. 113 families residing in the village. As per the Census 2011, the village has total population of 581 of which 300 are males while 281 are female. The village is dominated by the Munda Adivasis with the population of 550 including 285 males and 265 females. In 2011, literacy rate of Perka village was 66.46 % with Male literacy of 75.20 % and 56.96 % of female literacy.

However, the villagers are unaware about the tricks of the Jharkhand government for grabbing their community, religious and forest land. Here, I would like to focus on the forest land alone because the Forest Rights Act 2006 was said to be the historic legislation to right the historic wrongs done to the Adivasis and other traditional forest Dwellers. As per the land Bank data prepared by the Department of Revenue and Land Reform (Govt. of Jharkhand), three plots of the village forest with the area of 12.14 acres is enlisted in the Land Bank (See Table 1). Interestingly, in 1932 the villagers have been given the forest for their use. This has been officially recorded in the land record in the Khatiyan Part – II. As per the provisions of the forest rights Act 2006, the government authorities should have recognized the rights of the villagers on the village forest.

Table 1. Status of Forest of Perka in Land Bank

Sl. No. Register Number Plot No. Area in Acres
1. 44 1037 5.36
2. 44 392 3.17
3. 44 88 3.61
Total 01 03 12.14

Source: Land Bank, Department of Land Reform and Revenue (Govt. of Jharkhand)

The Adivasis of Perka are shocked to know that their forest is kept in the land Bank data with a clear intention to lease out to the private business entities. 55-year-old Petrus Tiru says, “I have land record papers of 1932, where we have been given right to use the forest. How can government keep our forest in the land Bank?” Another villager, 50-year-old Santosh Soy says, “We have been protecting the forest for more than 20 years. Two villagers keep watch on the forest every day. We also discuss about the protection and minimum use of the forest in our weekly Gram Sabha meetings. How can government take such step without our consent?” In the present circumstance, one needs to understand the history, concept and intention behind the formation of land Bank, which is paving the way to denial of the forest rights to the Adivasis and other traditional forest dwellers.

The state of Jharkhand is popularly known as the land of Adivasis’ struggle. The Adivasis have been resisting to protect their identity, autonomy, culture, languages, land, territory and natural resources for more than 300 years. The creation of Jharkhand as a new state in the political map of India was one of the results of the struggle. After formation of the state, the Adivasi struggle was concentrated on anti-displacement Movement as 74 MoUs were signed by the successive governments one after another within a decade. Fortunately, none of the mega project was materialized. The Adivasis forced the Arcellar Mittal Company, Jindal Company and Tata Steel Ltd to desert the proposed land[1] for their dream steel projects.

However, learning from the past, the new BJP government, formed in 2014, changed the land acquisition strategy. On 31st December 2014, the government through its Department of Revenue and Land Reform issued a circular to the Deputy Commissioners of all 24 districts asking them to conduct survey and prepared a land data incorporating all kinds of land except the private land[2] for the land bank. After accumulation of the land data, the department of Revenue and Land Reform created a new website https://jharbhoomi.nic.in, where 2,097,003.81 acres of land was shown as government land in the land bank.

Finally, Jharkhand’s Chief Minister Rabhuvar Das launched the website of Land Bank on 5th January 2016, which was followed by the signing of 210 new MoUs with the Corporate Houses during the ‘Global Investors Summit’ held at Khelgoan, Ranchi on 16-17 February 2017. Now, the Government has been attempting to acquire the common land, sacred groves and forest land without (free, prior and informed) consent of the communities. For instance, the state government has given 42 acres of so-called government land to the Vedanta company at Dimbuli village near Saranda forest in West Sighbhum district of Jharkhand and the government has been attempting to acquire the private land of the Adivasis for the company against their consent. The government is ensuring the Corporate’s entry to the villages through the land Bank.

Indeed, the land Bank was created with a clear objective to ensure the land to the corporate houses. This was categorically expressed by the Jharkhand’s Chief Minister, Raghuvar Das while speaking to the media on July 27th, 2016. He said, “Land acquisition has never been a challenge for us as we have a land bank of 1,75,000 acres readily available for different industries to set up their businesses. Farmers are ready to give us land as we are paying a handsome price. We currently hold 40 per cent of India’s natural mineral wealth and we are on the way to becoming the power hub of the country by 2019[3] .”

Interestingly, under the tag of the government land, three categories of land data were incorporated in the land bank – 1) common land of the villages including grazing land, play grounds, village paths, etc. 2) sacred groves (Sarna, Deshavali and Jaherthan) and 3) forest land, which entitlements were supposed to be given to the Adivasis and other traditional forest dwellers.

The most surprising aspect of the land bank is that out of 2,097,003.81 acres of land 1,016,680.48 acres of land is forest land, which is 48.4 percent of the total land of the land bank (see Table 2). If we analyze the data of land bank at the district level, Chatra district tops the list with 92.3 percent of the forest land reserved in the land bank. Bokaro secures second place with 90.8 percent and Giridih gets third berth with 72.8 percent of forest land kept in the land bank. However, in terms of area of forest land, Giridih gets the first place with 329,539.12 acres of forest land out of 452,074.26 acres of land of land bank. Simdega secures second position with 244,434.50 acres out of 358,450.52 acres and Gumla acquires third place with 87,082.74 acres of forest land out of 181,222.78 acres of land of the land bank.  

Table 2: Forest land in Land Bank

Sl. No. District Total Plot Area of land in Acre Forest Land
In Acre In %
1 Ranchi 10,327 1,07,677.69 78,256.44 72.68
2 Khunti 5,863 53,387.93 12,888.14 24.14
3 Lohardaga 3,951 14,372.30 9,742.95 67.79
4 Gumla 98,209 1,81,222.78 87,082.74 48.05
5 Simdega 1,10,766 3,58,450.52 2,44,434.50 68.19
6 East Singhbhum 22,151 31,607.71 8,159.21 25.81
7 West Singhbhum 27,041 3,75,662.09 49,922.02 13.29
8 Saraikela 5,609 24,467.66 5,008.71 20.47
9 Bokaro 2,624 21,827.03 19,823.80 90.82
10 Dhanbad 6,504 30,769.46 11,648.14 37.86
11 Ramgarh 574 4,284.94 2,795.72 65.25
12 Kodarma 278 4,128.11 73.38 1.78
13 Hazaribagh 1,973 25,190.21 15,801.12 62.73
14 Chatra 482 6,490.65 5,993.08 92.33
15 Palamu 0 3,005.20 1,668.50 55.52
16 Garhwa 31,319 33,546.72 7,536.10 22.46
17 Latehar 12,508 79,177.25 34,407.49 43.46
18 Dumka 17,308 77,762.05 16,629.96 21.39
19 Pakur 15,460 69,241.36 31,436.90 45.40
20 Deoghar 7,106 43,562.69 15,424.56 35.41
21 Giridih 16,642 4,52,074.26 3,29,539.12 72.89
22 Godda 4,956 23,417.28 5,929.15 25.32
23 Jamtara 9,607 36,086.36 5,803.17 16.08
24 Sahebganj 7,889 39,591.56 16,675.58 42.12
Total 4,19,147 20,97,003.81 10,16,680.48 48.48

Source: Land Bank, Department of Land Reform and Revenue (Govt. of Jharkhand)

This is a gross violation of the section 4(1) and (5) of the Forest Rights Act 2006, which recognizes the individual and community rights over the forest and forest land. It has been categorically mentioned in the section 4(5) that no member of a forest dwelling Scheduled Tribe or other traditional forest dweller shall be evicted or removed from forest land under his occupation till the recognition and verification procedure is complete[4]. In fact, the forest rights are denied to the community by enlisting the forest land and community forests in the land Bank.

The land Bank also violates the Provisions of Panchayat (Extension) in Scheduled Area Act (PESA) 1996, which recognizes the self determination of the Adivasis and empowers the Gram Sabha (village council) to manage the natural resources. This is also the violation of the Supreme Court judgment in the case of ‘Odisha Mining Corporation vs Ministry of Forest and Environment and others (c) No. 180 of 2011, which clearly states that the Gram Sabha is the owner of the natural resources, therefore, the common land, sacred groves and forest & forest land of the villages cannot be acquired without the consent of the Gram Sabhas. The formation of the Land Bank is a clear denial of the forest rights to the Adivasis and other traditional forest dwellers, which will also ensure the continuation of the historical injustice.

References: 

[1] Dungdung, Gladson. 2019. Ulgulan Ka Sauda. Ranchi: Adivasis Publications.

[2] Letter of the Department of Revenue and Land Reform, dated 31st December 2014.

[3] https://www.theweek.in/content/archival/news/biz-tech/jharkhand-government-creates-land-bank-for-industries.html

[4] Forest Rights Act 2006, Ministry of Tribal Affairs (Govt. of India)

General, News in Media

Gladson’s new book to be released

Invitation by adivaani
Join us on February 7 at the New Delhi World Book Fair

A review by Felix Padel:

This book is out just when it is needed most: a book touching on every aspect of the Adivasi situation by an Adivasi activist prepared to take on the big questions and the key perpetrators of violence, from the big companies staging takeovers, headed by Tata, to the police increasingly serving these companies rather than India’s citizens, and the politicians facilitating the takeovers.

The book’s starting point is a recent Supreme Court Judgement that validates Adivasis’ identity as India’s original inhabitants. Significantly, this case involved an Adivasi woman stripped naked and shoved around a village in Maharashtra. Another piece focuses on the plight of Anna, a domestic servant, whose unheard plea for justice is symptomatic of mass exploitation and oppression of Adivasi women in domestic service. As for exposure to rape – what about rapists in uniform? Hasn’t rape been used against tribal people as a weapon of subjugation for decades? When tribal women are gang-raped by police or army personnel, are perpetrators ever punished? “Are these women too?” is one of the book’s strongest essays, covering the sexual abuse in a school in Chhattisgarh and other episodes that bring national shame.

The first essay starts at the beginning with the inspiring, yet harrowing story of the first Adivasi to oppose East India Company invasions, in 1779, with the words “Earth is our Mother”. Baba Tilika Manjhi paid for opposing the British with a gruesome death, giving the lie to the mastermind of this Paharia campaign, Augustus Cleveland, whose memorial in Bhagalpore claimed that he brought this tribal people under British rule “without terrors of authority”!

The book’s documentation of the many forms of violence and prejudice ranged against Adivasis fills a vital gap in literature. The detail is often sickening and will make any sane person extremely angry. It is shown how Adivasis are being displaced by dams, by industrial/mining projects, by continuing tricks of non-Adivasis, and – perhaps most outrageously of all – by the new University for the Study and Research of Law at Nagri. As Dungdung points out, the head of this university is also Jharkhand’s Chief Justice. If this isn’t a blatant conflict of interest, what is? This university’s takeover of land lays down a pattern of trampling on the Law that does not bode well for its future!

The book documents the situation in other states besides Jharkhand, such as Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Assam, where the Forest Department’s use of Boro tribal people to evict Adivasis from their forest land shows a typical colonial technique of turning one tribe against another. As the author asks, if Rahul Gandhi says he is Adivasis’ sipahi in Delhi, he needs to speak up a lot louder and more often on Adivasi issues!

Dungdung rightly points out that in many ways Nehru is the ‘Architect of Adivasis’ misery’, through his ideology of dams as ‘temples of modern India’. The experience of tens of thousands of Adivasis whose lives have been ruined by dams forms a blatant contradiction to Nehru’s stated principle that tribal people should always be allowed to develop according to their own genius. However well-meaning Nehru was in his words, his violent actions towards tribal communities have yet to be recognized: apart from the horror of his big dams, he also sent in the troops against tribal communities in Telengana in 1948, destroying the achievements of 3,000 villages who had effected a democratic redistribution of land, and similarly in Nagaland and Manipur during the 1950s, where troops used extreme levels of violence to force submission. In each case, ‘security forces’ established a level of habitual violence, including use of ‘rape as a weapon of war’, for which thousands of perpetrators went unpunished. Operation Greenhunt is just the latest manifestation of the recurring patterns of state violence that these two operations initiated. Offering just military action and ‘development’ to counteract today’s Maoist insurgency is no solution at all ‘precisely because the injustice, discrimination and denial are the foundation of the violence’.

Gladson Dungdung records the starvation levels of hunger still faced by large numbers of Adivasis. As Binayak Sen has pointed out using medical and nutrition statistics, over 50% of Adivasis and Dalits are presently living under famine conditions of malnourishment. This being so, how can India’s rulers claim they have brought ‘development’ at all to these sections of society? To be real, development needs to be under local democratic control, not dictated by corporations and opaque government hierarchies.

As the two most discriminated-against groups in India, Dalits and Adivasis share many experiences. Yet the difference between the two groups is also important to recognize: Dalits were more or less enslaved by mainstream society, while Adivasis maintained a high level of independence up to British times. As such, they developed their own diverse cultures and languages to a high level. Adivasi cultures are still too often perceived through stereotypes as ‘primitive’ and ‘backward’, when the reality is that they are extremely civilized and highly developed in areas of life where mainstream society is weak or degenerate. Centuries of development is often destroyed when Adivasi communities are thrown off their land by projects usurping the name ‘development’.

Adivasi society needs to be recognized for its formidable achievements, including an economic system that is based on and in accordance with the principles of ecology, and therefore sustainable in the true sense and the long term. Cultural Genocide is the term for what Adivasis are facing now all over India, and this book is a landmark in spelling out the injustice. By bringing out the truth, and documenting the situation from an authentic Adivasi perspective, this book gives hope for a turning of the tide that will counteract the genocidal invasions and takeovers of Adivasi land.

General

Will Mangra get back his land?

By Gladson Dungdung
JharkhandMirror.org

On 19 September, 2012, it was 2 o’clock in the afternoon when Mangra Oraon along with his son Kishor and cousin sister Suryamani reached to the Civil Court, Ranchi with the prime goal to reclaim his entitlement on 1.41 acres of land, which is grabbed unconstitutionally and illegally by Vasavi Bose alias Vasavi Kiro, member of the Jharkhand State Women Commission and Journalist turned social activist of Jharkhand. Magra comes from a village called Kotari, which is situated in the forest near Burmu Police station, at a distance of 40 kilometres from Ranchi, the capital city of Jharkhand. It was pick hour of harvesting, but Mangra had no option than stopping his agriculture activities and visit the Court to save his land. It was Mangra’s first experience dealing with the lawyer in the Court, but he was confident about what he wanted to do.

Finally, Mangra filed an affidavit, which reads as follows – ‘Vasavi told me that she comes from the Oraon tribal community, and asked me for some patches of land for the ‘Torang Trust’. She promised me that she would use my land for the welfare of the tribal community and give me a job along with the price of my land. Hence, I handed over her 1.41 acres of land. Meanwhile, she asked me to sign on a blank paper, which she submitted to the court and got the permission to transfer the ownership right of my land in her name instead of ‘Torang Trust’. However, when I came to know the truth, I didn’t transfer the ownership rights. Meanwhile, she lured and also abused me. Now, I don’t want to sell my land to Vasavi anymore, because she has cheated on me. She is a non-tribal woman but declared herself as a tribal woman through the false documents, which is a crime’.

Indeed, this is one of the unique cases of land grab therefore; we must understand it thoroughly. There are thousand and thousand of Mangras in Jharkhand, whose lands are being grabbed by the use of different ways and means. Mangra Oraon’s 1.41 acres of land were unconstitutionally and illegally grabbed by none other than Vasavi Kiro alias Vasavi Bose, who keeps claiming of being the voice of the Adivasis. It’s very interesting to know that firstly, Vasavi trapped Mangra Oraon by showing that she was willing to work for the welfare of the tribal people of Burmu block. Hence, she was able to grab 1.41 acres of land at the rate of merely Rs. 450 per decimal. Thereafter, she started coining herself as a member of the tribal community legally through trust deed and affidavit so that she could transfer the ownership rights in her name. Finally, she applied in the court for land transfer and constructed a house on the land, where she runs the office of Torang Trust. She is secretary of the trust and the National Commission for Women, New Delhi also provides financial support to the Trust. What a trick she played!

1. Vasavi is a daughter of three fathers: It may be hard to believe that one person would have three biological fathers.  But Vasavi Bose alias Vasavi Kiro is a daughter of three official biological fathers. According to the record of Ursuline Convent Girls High School, Ranchi and Bihar Secondary School Examination Board, Patna, Vasavi’s original name is Vasavi Bose daughter of Prafullo Bose resident of Tharpakhana, Ranchi, where she resides even today. However, according to the affidavit made on 31 October, 2007, Vasavi has claimed of being a member of the Oraon tribe. It is written in the affidavit that Vasavi daugther of Praful Kumar (Oraon) and resident of Kotari village of Burmu police station of Ranchi district.

Similarly, a social institution called “Torang Trust” was registered on 19 November, 2005, under the Indian Trust Act 1882, where Vasavi’s name is mentioned as Vasavi Kujur daughter of Bhola Kujur resident of Kotari comes under Burmu Police Station. Thus, Vasavi has changed her surname and father’s name several times to prove herself as a member of the tribal community with the intention to buy the tribal land and also bag most of the benefits with the tribal tag. Hence, her names read like Vasavi Bose, Vasavi Kujur, Vasavi Bhagat and Vasavi Kiro, and her fathers are late Prafullo Bose, late Praful Kumar (Oraon) and Mr. Bhola Kujur. The most interesting thing is neither Praful Kumar (Oraon) nor Bhola Kujur ever existed at Kotari village. Can a journalist or social activist do like this?

2. Violation of the Indian Constitution: According to the Indian Constitution Article 342 (1) the President after consultation with the Governor, by public notification, specify the tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within tribes or tribal communities which shall for the purposes of this Constitution be deemed to be Scheduled Tribes in relation to that State. Secondly, the Parliament may by law include in or exclude from the list of Scheduled Tribes specified in a notification issued under clause (1) any tribe or tribal community or part of or group within any tribe or tribal community, but save as aforesaid a notification issued under the said clause shall not be varied by any subsequent notification. However, Vasavi Bose alias Vasavi Kiro declared herself as a member of Oraon tribe community through an affidavit, which is a clear case of violation of the Indian Constitution.  Is Vasavi Bose above the Constitution? Can anybody be allowed to bypass the Indian Constitution? And why the Indian state has failed to take action against such people?

In fact, Vasavi Bose is a daughter of tribal mother and Bengali father. In that case can she claim for the tribal status? The Supreme Court has said in the cases of Valsamma Paul v. Cochin University and others, (1996) 3 SCC 545 followed by Punit Rai v. Dinesh Chaudhary, (2003) 8 SCC 204 and Anjan Kumar v. Union of India and others, (2006) 3 SCC 257 that the offspring of an inter caste marriage or a marriage between a tribal and a non-tribal would take his/her caste from the father. Hence, the offshoots of the wedlock of a tribal woman married to a non-tribal husband cannot claim Scheduled Tribe status. Therefore, Vasavi Bose cannot claim for the tribal status. Hence, she should not be given any benefit as a member of the tribal community.

However, while providing safe guard to the offspring of tribal mother and non-tribal father, the Supreme Court said on 18 January, 2012 Rameshbhai Dabhai Naika versus State of Gujarat & Others S.L.P (CIVIL) NO.4282 of 2010) that in view of the analysis of the earlier decisions on a marriage between a tribal and a non-tribal the determination of the caste of the offspring is essentially a question of fact to be decided on the basis of the facts adduced in each case. The determination of caste of a person born of an inter-caste marriage or a marriage between a tribal and a non-tribal cannot be determined in complete disregard of attending facts of the case. In an inter caste marriage or a marriage between a tribal and a non-tribal there may be a presumption that the child has the caste of the father. This presumption may be stronger in the case where in the inter caste marriage or a marriage between a tribal and a non-tribal the husband belongs to a forward caste.

The Supreme Court further said that by no means the presumption is conclusive or irrebuttable and it is open to the child of such marriage to lead evidence to show that he/she was brought up by the mother who belonged to the scheduled caste/scheduled tribe. By virtue of being the son of a forward caste father he did not have any advantageous start in life but on the contrary suffered the deprivations, indignities, humilities and handicaps like any other member of the community to which his/her mother belonged. Additionally, that he was always treated a member of the community to which her mother belonged not only by that community but by people outside the community as well. However, this judgement is also not applicable in the case of Vasavi Bose. Precisely, because she lived with his father Prafullo Bose at Thalpakhana, Ranchi and enjoyed as a member of Bengali community at the start of her life. She has seven brothers who use the surname as “Bose”. Hence, the act of Vasavi Bose is completely unconstitutional and against the judgement of the Supreme Court.

3. Non-Tribal woman cannot enjoy tribal status: Indeed, Vasavi Bose is a non-tribal woman who has married to a tribal man (Santosh Kiro). In this situation, can she claim for the tribal status? In fact, whenever the inter-caste marriage takes place, the woman takes on the caste of her husband. The Supreme Court proceeded to consider the next question which was, “whether a lady marrying a Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe or OBC citizen, or one transplanted by adoption or any other voluntary act, ipso facto, becomes entitled to claim reservation under Article 15(4) or 16(4) as the case may be?” In Murlidhar Dayandeo Kesekar v. Vishwanath Pandu Barde 1995 supp. (2) SCC 549 and R. Chandevarappa v. State of Karnataka (1995) 6 SCC 309: JT (1995) 7 SC 93, the Supreme Court has said that economic empowerment is a fundamental right to the poor and the State is enjoined under Articles 15(3), 46 and 39 to provide them opportunities. Thus, education, employment and economic empowerment are some of the programmes the State has evolved and also provided reservation in admission into educational institutions, or in case of other economic benefits under Articles 15(4) and 46, or in appointment to an office or a post under the State under Article 16(4).

Therefore, when a member is transplanted into the Dalits, Tribes and OBCs, he/she must of necessity also have had undergone the same handicaps, and must have been subjected to the same disabilities, disadvantages, indignities or sufferings so as to entitle the candidate to avail the facility of reservation. A candidate who had the advantageous start in life being born in Forward Caste and had march of advantageous life but is transplanted in Backward Caste by adoption or marriage or conversion, does not become eligible to the benefit of reservation either under Article 15(4) or 16(4). Acquisition of the status of Scheduled Caste etc. by voluntary mobility into these categories would play fraud on the Constitution, and would frustrate the benign constitutional policy under Articles 15(4) and 16(4) of the Constitution. Hence, under this judgement too, Vasavi Bose alias Vasavi Kiro cannot claim the tribal status for marrying the tribal man.

4. Violation of the CNT Act 1908: According to the section – 46 (1) (a) of the Chhota Nagpur Tenancy Act 1908, an occupancy-Raiyat who is a member of the Scheduled Tribes may transfer with the previous sanction of the Deputy Commissioner his right in his holding or a portion of his holding by sale, exchange, gift or will to another person who is a member of the Scheduled Tribas and who is a resident within the local limits of the area of the police-station within which the holding is situate. Of course, Vasavi Bose is a non-tribal woman, comes from Tharpakhna of Lower Bazar Police station in Ranchi the capital city of Jharkhand.  But she illegally bought 2.99 acre of tribal land. According to the investigation report of the Circre Officer (CO), Burmu, Vasavi Orien is a daughter of late Praful Kumar (Oraon) resident of Kotari village comes under Burmu police station in Ranchi district. The Circle Officer (CO) further writes that Vasavi owns 1.55 acres of land elsewhere and comes from the Oraon tribal community of Kotari village. Hence, 1.41 acres of land of Mangra Oraon can be transferred in her name, which does not violate the rights of land owner in any manner. Thus, Vasavi Bose became the owner of 2.99 acres of tribal land, which is a gross violation of the Chhota Nagpur Tenancy Act, 1908. Therefore, the land should be returned to the original land owners.

5. Deputy Commissioner defies the Law: According to the section – 46 (1) (a) of the Chhota Nagpur Tenancy Act 1908, an occupancy-Raiyat, who is a member of the Scheduled Tribes may transfer his land with the previous sanction of the Deputy Commissioner. Despite having such a strong land law, a non-tribal woman Vasavi Bose could able to transfer 2.99 acres of tribal land in her name. How? According to the investigation report of the Circle Officer (CO), Burmu, Vasavi owns 1.55 acres of land elsewhere and comes from the Oraon tribal community of Kotari village, which comes under Burmu police station of Ranchi district. Hence, she is given permission to transfer 1.44 acres of land of Mangra Oraon. On the basis of this report, the Deputy Commissioner also ordered for the land transfer. Is CO and DC influence by someone?

The victim of this saga of land grab, Mangra, claims that fake legal papers were made in the court and the permission for transfer of his 1.41 acres of land was given on that basis. He questions that how the affidavit and other legal papers were prepared in his name in the court, without his presence in the court? The illegal land grab is not uncommon in Jharkhand. The history of last three centuries is full of land grab and mass struggle against it. But the saga of Mangra is unique because the land grabber is not other than the so-called guard of the tribals. Secondly, the land was grabbed in the name of welfare of the tribals and thirdly, three editors of the leading media groups denied carrying the story of an unconstitutional and illegal land grab in their daily news papers. Can you imagine how powerful the land grabber is? Will Mangra be able to fight against such powerful lobby? Can government take legal action against Vasavi Bose for violating the Indian Constitution? Will Government take any action against the Circle Officer and the Deputy Commissioner for defying the Constitution and Laws? And the most important question, which may remain unanswered, is will Mangra get back his land?

Gladson Dungdung is a Human Rights Activist and General Secretary of Jharkhand Human Rights Movement. He can be reached at gladsonhractivist@gmail.com

General

Nagri People versus Jharkhand Government: Conflict of opposite world-views

By Stan Swamy

Why, on the one hand, the Adivasi people of Nagri are refusing to part with their land and are ready to make any sacrifice for it, and, on the other hand, the Jharkhand govt is determined to take it even at the cost of shedding the blood of people ?

In a democracy people are the masters and the govt is their servant. How come the table has turned opposite? How come Jharkhand government has become insensitive to the aspirations of the poorest of the poor and is bent upon obliging the richest class of society for its lavish needs?

The reason for this is to be traced to the very different world-views, two very different philosophies which guide the adivasi people on the one hand and the Jharkhand government on the other.

1. Concept of land and its use:

a) The adivasi people of Nagri look upon their land (earth) as their Mother inherited from their ancestors which they will use as long as they  are alive and will pass on to their future generations. Their land gives them an identity as its custodians, and hence it cannot be bought or sold but can only be used and protected. A second important consideration is that the 227 acres of their land which the government is trying to forcibly acquire is their only source of survival. They have worked hard on their land and have made it a fertile agricultural land. If such land is forcibly snatched from them they will lose their only source of sustenance. Sadly the erstwhile Bihar government as well as the successive govts of Jharkhand did not bother to do any thing for the welfare of this people.

b) Jharkhand government, on the other hand, is guided by capitalist ideology as per which land is only an economic commodity and is to be exploited to make the highest profit in as short a time as  possible. The capitalist who has the capital, technology to do that will be welcome to take over the land, destroy forest, agriculture, water sources and will not be held accountable to any body. As for Nagri land is concerned, it is being forcibly taken to make place for some prestigious institutions (IIM, National Law University) in which local Jharkhandi students will hardly have any place. It is actually meant for the top elite class of society from all over the country. It will be just a decoration on the throne of the capitalist ruling class, and for this the toiling Jharkhandi masses have to sacrifice all they have, and be thrown on the street as rickshaw-pullers and casual labourers. This is a very unjust process of impoverishment of the small land-owning class and shows the emptiness of capitalism.

2. The offer of compensation:

a) Nagri people refused to accept cash compensation in 1957 and they refuse to accept it now. They refused even to discuss it with the high-power committee because they know very well that money can never replace their land. They know that hard work on their land will give them food, self-respect and dignity, whereas money will simply throw them in the consumerist market and their money will be finished even before they know it. Also they know what has been the miserable condition of those adivasis & moolvasis who had received cash compensation in the past.

b) Jharkhand government, on the other hand, is trying its best to dump some money on the to-be-displaced people and then neatly forget them. It is again making the same mistake of fixing the amount without any transparency and without taking the affected people into confidence. The whole process is arbitrary and therefore illegal and invalid.

3) Facts speak for themselves:

a) Nagri people have placed all the facts on the table, namely (i) they live in Vth Schedule area where TAC has a crucial role, (ii) CNT Act is applicable, (iii) they are covered by PESA Act, (iv) they refused compensation in 1957, (v) the written statement from BIRSA Agriculture University that it is not in possession of the supposedly acquired land, (vi) copies of khatyan and malgujari which establish their actual possession of the land in question.

b) Jharkhand government, on the other hand, is hiding these facts before the judiciary and is putting forward only the Land Acquisition Act of 1894 which we all know is the British colonial Act meant to seize Indian land for the empire. Thus Jharkhand government is playing a cheating game.

To conclude, may we say that government’s capitalist approach has enriched the already rich, further impoverished the already poor and has brought in uncontrolled corruption in every level and walk of life. It is only the approach of the indigenous adivasi people of Nagri which cherishes the Earth as Mother and respect and protect her rights will see the development and welfare of all human beings.

Writer is a Human Rights Activist from Jharkhand associated with the
Nagri People’s Movement.

General

Who will deliver justice to Nagri?

General

Is Judiciary Biased Against Adivasis?

By Gladson Dugndung
JharkhandMirror.org

On 15 July, 2012, in the afternoon, the weather was cool, the sky was cloudy and it was drizzling. The hundreds of Adivasis of Nagri village entered into the central hall of the Birsa Agriculture University, Ranchi with the single point agenda to get back their agriculture lands, which has been captured by the State with the power of Gun. In fact the Birsa Agriculture University was also built on their land after snatching it from their ancestors. They have been resisting against the forceful and illegal land acquisition because the present government has been attempting to grab rest of their land in the name of growth and development. They are well aware that if they surrender their land in front of the Gun, they’ll become landless, homeless and helpless. Their survival, identity and existence will be vanished. Therefore, they were there to attend a meeting called off by the “High Power Committee” constituted by the Chief Minister of Jharkhand, Arjun Munda on the basis of an order of the Jharkhand High Court, which states that the Government should resolve the land row of Nagri within a week otherwise; the court will directly deal with the land owners.

When the meeting began, the villagers told to the High Power Committee that they’ll not surrender their land at any cost even if they have to face bullets while resisting for it. Therefore, the government should return their agriculture lands, which have been captured by the State with the terror of Gun so that they would go for the cultivation as the Monsoon is in its pick. The Social and Rights Activists also echoed their voices in support of the villagers. After hearing the concerns of villagers, Social and Rights Activists, the Chairperson of the committee and Revenue Minister, Mathura Mahto assured them that the committee will take a decision in favour of the villagers. However, the villagers were not satisfied with the assurance and started raising slogans because they were expecting for some concrete result as their case was dismissed by the Jharkhand High Court and while they approached to the Supreme Court, the Court simply didn’t admit it.

First of all, let’s understand the land issue of Nagri. An Adivasis dominated village “Nagri” is situated at a distance of 15km from Ranchi, the capital city of Jharkhand. On 23 November, 2011, the Jharkhand Government began to capture 227.71 acres of fertile land of the villagers and handed over the entitlement of the major part of the land to the IIM, the IIIT and the Law University. Thus these institutions started constructing the boundary wall. The government claims that the land was acquired in 1957-58 for the extension of the ‘Birsa Agriculture University and Seed Bank’ under the ‘public purpose’ provided in the section 17 (4) of the Land Acquisition Act 1984. However, Rs, 155,147.88 was allocated for the compensation but out of 153 Raiyats (tenants), 128 had declined the compensation offered and merely 25 Raiyats of a particular community had received it. When 128 Raiyats declined the compensation, the Government deposited their money Rs. 133732 in the treasury but they were not informed.

In 2008, the Jharkhand Government started acquisition of 12.6 acres of land for the proposed ‘Ring Road’ but the Raiyats resisted against it and when it was taken forcefully, they approached to the Jharkhand High Court for relief. However, the Court did not accept the claim of the Raiyats on the land and merely ordered the Government to pay compensation with the addition of 15 percent interests and closed the case. Interestingly, when the land was supposed to be acquired, it costs Rs. 7 per decimal and today the same land is worth of Rs. 1.5 lakh. The Government is willing to pay merely 1.55 lakh for 227.71 acres of land, which is worth of Rs. 341.5 crore today. The final call of the Raiyats is that they simple want their land back and don’t want to bid for it at any cost precisely because the land is only source of their survival, identity and existence, and the compensation money will not serve their purposes. They say that once the compensation amount is fished, they’ll be nowhere.

The Adivasis of Nagri, have been knocking each and every door of the democracy but they are not being heard anywhere. In January 2012, the government deployed 3 companies of Rapid Action Force (RAF) and bulldozed just when the winter crops mostly potatoes and pulse were to be harvested. The RAF also destroyed wheat, gram and other crops. And when the villagers strongly protested against it, the Government imposed section 144 of the Indian Penal Code within the distance of 1 km of the project area and the villagers were not even allowed to move on their own land. When they strongly resisted against it, an FIR was filed against 12 villagers including 85 year-old Dhuchu Toppo in allegation of breaching of peace. Ironically, Dhuchu Toppo could not even walk properly but he was threat to peace in the region. However, when the construction work of boundary wall was started, the villagers again went to the Jharkhand High Court and pleaded to stop the construction work on their land, the Court rejected their petition on 26 April, 2012. After decline of the Court to hear their plea, the villagers sit in indefinite protest on the spot and also gathered support from nearby villagers and outsiders and halted the construction work. They sit in protest, which went on for record 125 days in the history of displacement movement.

On the other hand, on 30 April, 2012, while hearing a public interest litigation filed by the Bar Association of the Jharkhand High Court, pleading for the completion of construction work of the Law University Campus, the Jharkhand High Court ordered the state government to start the construction work within 48 hours. Finally, the villagers went to the Supreme Court through a Special Leave Petition (SLP) with the last hope to get justice. However, they were not only denied justice but also humiliated in the Supreme Court. On 28 June, 2012, a legislator Bandhu Tirkey and a few villagers were present in the Supreme Court and they were shocked to see the Judges’ behaviour. The vacation bench was hearing the petition and while hearing it, Justice H.S. Gokhle and Justice Ranjna Prakash Desai didn’t even open the file and threw it on the ground. They said, “Acquisition of the concerned land has taken place in 1957-58, we do not see any reason to interfere with the impugned judgement.” They dismissed the petition.

Since, Nagri village comes under the Fifth Schedule Area in the state of Jharkhand as per provisions made in the Indian Constitution, where the Governor is the constitutional head, who has been empowered by the President of India with special power to issue Public Notification and Regulation to protect and promote the interest of Adivasis in Scheduled Area and thus maintain ‘Peace & Good Government’. Therefore, the Villagers also went to meet the Governor several times and pleaded to intervene in the case. However, the governor did nothing for the Raiyats. The villagers could see and believe that the Supreme Court, High Court, Governor, State Government and the Police are against of them; therefore they’ll not get justice if they don’t fight on the street. They became angry against the ‘state’ and determined not the surrender their land at any cost even if they have to render their lives. A billion dollar question for them was how will they survive if they lose only source of their livelihood i.e. land? Finally, they decided to save their land at the cost of their lives and the behaviour of the Supreme Court fuelled their anger.

On 4 July, 2012, they gathered near the site of the IIM and started breaking the boundary wall. They destroyed the boundary wall of one side of the IIM in presence of the Rapid Action Force. Meanwhile, the Sub-Divisional Officer of Sadar (Ranchi), Shekhar Jamuar reached to the spot and ordered for lathi charge. The clash started between villagers and the police forces. The Police forces not only bet the villagers with lathis but also pelted stone on them. Consequently, Dubhan Toppo, Dukhni Toppo, Jammi Toppo and Bandhni Toppo got severe injuries and admitted to the Rajendra Institute of Medical Science, Ranchi. However, the police filed an FIR against 100 villages alleging them for attacking on police and also destroying the government property. The police also arrested Jammi Toppo, Bandhni Toppo, Rama Tirkey and Chhoto Toppo. Since, Jammi Toppo and Bandhni Toppo were injured severely therefore, they were sent to RIMS for treatment under the police custody but Rama Tirkey and Chhotu Toppo were sent to Jail under the charge of attempt to murder of the police personals.

On the next day, the villagers sat on the road and declared for indefinite road block of Ranchi-Patratu Highway in demand of the persons arrested to be released and case is withdrawn immediately. The People’s organizations, Rights Groups, Political parties, student unions and intellectuals also joined the protest against the terror of the State. There were series of protest across the state in support of the Nagri People’s Movement. Meanwhile, the villagers also got the support of Sibu Soren the chairperson of staring committee (Govt of Jharkhand) and two Cabinet Ministers of the Jharkhand Mukti Morch also openly supported the villagers. The Minister of Revenue and Land Reform, Mathura Mahto said that injustice has been done to the Raiyats of Nagri by the government. Hence, the Government was unable to deal the situation.

After seeing the people’s resistance, the Jharkhand High Court also changed its behaviour. On 10 July 2012, the Court ordered the state government to find out the ways with the villagers within a week. On the basis of the order, the Chief Minister constituted a five members ‘High Power Committee’ under the chairmanship of Mathura Mahto, the Minister of Revenue and Land Reform along with four bureaucrats as members including N.N. Pandey, Secretary (Revenue and Land Reform), Sukhdev Singh, Secretary (Finance Dept), Surendra Singh, Commissioner (South Chhotanagpur) and Vinay Chaubey, Deputy Commissioner (Ranchi). The committee called off its first meeting on 14 July but the Raiyats declined to participate in it. They said that if the government wants to talk to them, then the representatives must come to the spot and secondly the delegation should have the Adivasis officers in majority. Meanwhile, the villagers organized a Jan Panchayat at Nagri on July 15, where more than 10 thousand people participated. They had also invited Sibu soren in the Jan Panchayat, where he said that the agriculture land will not be given to the government and the villagers should start ploughing their land. Since, Sibu Soren is head of the coalition government therefore; it had a ripple impact in the state. The support of Sibu Soren fuelled the Nagri movement. Finally, the High Power Committee decided to meet the villagers near their village therefore, the meeting was organized at Birsa Agriculture University, Kanke on July 16.

On 16 July, 2012, the Jharkhand High Court also asked numbers of questions to the state government while hearing the petition of the Bar Association in the matter of Law University. The Court asked to the State Government whether it is a government policy that law will prevail or the issues will be decided on road in all matters in future? Whether the land in dispute is the only or last land, which is cultivable land, acquired after coming into force of the Act of 1894 in the state of Bihar and now in the state of Jharkhand till the year 2012? Whether non acceptance of the compensation by cultivators will nullify the land acquisition proceedings undertaken under the Act of 1894? Whether the state government has taken a decision that all lands which have been acquired after the year 1894 or at least since 1957-58, and it was cultivable at that time, shall be declared deacquisitioned and will be returned back to the cultivators? Why this inequitable decision will be for those persons only, whose land have not been violently protested when possession of the land was taken over and whether the Government will be guided by law of violence and will not hear the law abiding persons, who obeyed the law? And if the state government takes a decision that no cultivable land should be acquired, then whether that decision will be prospective in nature or retrospective in operation?

The seven pages order seems to be clearly anti-Adivasis and willing to facilitate the land grab of Adivasis of Nagri village. Needless to say that the people of Jharkhand have been raising their endless voices against the Legislative and the Executive but in the case of Nagri the people have also questioned the functioning of the Judiciary, which is of course not a good sign for the democracy. But do people have any other choice too? The pertaining questions are why people are questioning the Judiciary? Has the Judiciary become anti-Adivasis? Does the Judiciary favour the bigwigs? One needs to find out the answer. If one would closely see the behaviour, intention and orders of the Jharkhand High Court, one would definitely say that the Judiciary is not only anti-Adivasis but it is also anti-poor, anti- Raiyats and anti-Jharkhandis. Dr. Ram Dayal Munda had shared his experiences with the Indian Judiciary in 2007. According to him the Judiciary has become anti people, hence, where from these people will get justice? He had said, “When we approach to the Judiciary, we are scolded. The Judges say, “We cannot hear the Adivasis. These people don’t talk sense”.”

Let’s go into the deeper in this case. When the Raiyats halted the construction work, the Bar Association filed a PIL in the Jharkhand High Court on 3 May, 2012. One would question that why did the Bar Association file a case in the High Court instead of the Law University? Is the Bar Association really worried about the development of the state or its intention was something else behind the case? Was the Law University incapable in filing case or it had some other legal obstacles? The fact is that according to the ‘National University for Research and Studies on Law, Ranchi Act 2010’ enacted by the Jharkhand Legislative Assembly in 2010, the Chief Justice of the Jharkhand High Court will be the Chancellor of the University. The National University for Research and Studies on Law (NURSL), Ranchi was inaugurated in 2010 by its first Chancellor and the Chief Justice of Jharkhand High Court, Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra. When Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra was elevated as the Judge of the Supreme Court in August, 2010, Justice Bhagwati Prasad was elevated as the Chief Justice of the Jharkhand High Court and he became the Chancellor of the NURSL too.

Presently, Justice Prakash Tatia is in the capacity of the Chief Justice of Jharkhand High Court and also working as the Chancellor of the NURSL, Ranchi. Interestingly, Justice Prakash Tatia has been hearing the PIL filed by the Bal Association regarding the land dispute between the Law University and the Raiyats of Nagri village. This is why the Law University didn’t file the case in the court and it went through the Bar Association. It would not have been possible for Justice Prakash Tatia to hear the case if the NURSL, Ranchi would have filed the case in the High Court. However, the most important question may be asked is whether the Chief Justice of Jharkhand High Court has legal or moral rights to hear this case? Is it not a clear case of the conflict of interest? Can a lion be allowed to pronounce judgement in a case between a lamb and a lion? Even if the responsibility is given what would be the judgement? Will lion say that since, the lamb’s ancestors used to live in the territory therefore; the lamb should be allowed to graze the green grass? How can a person heading a constitutional body misuse his power and authority like this? Is it not a mockery of the judiciary?

The Jharkhand High Court has given five orders in this case till the date, and each and every order seems to be full of biasness. Let’s examine some of the significant points in the orders. On 16 July, 2012, the Jharkhand High Court has raised the question whether it is a government policy that law will prevail or the issues will be decided on road in all matters in future? The fact is the Raiyats of Nagri village had opposed the forceful and illegal land acquisition in 1957-58 therefore; the government was unable to acquire their land. However, the government played a trick and deceived the cultivators. The compensation amount was deposited in the treasury and land was presumed to be acquired under the Land Acquisition Act 1894. But in the reality, the villagers were neither informed about it nor their entitlements dismissed in the revenue record. Hence, the Raiyats have possession on the land. They have also paid revenue of the land to the government till 2011. The most important thing is that some of the Raiyats have sold their land to others and it was also registered in buyers’ name by the Circle Officer of Kanke, which means the land was not legally acquired by the Government. Therefore, how can the government declare a land acquired when Raiyats are not ready to bid for their land? Is it only because a colonial Act (Land Acquisition Act 1894) says so?

The government claims that the land was acquired for the Birsa Agriculture University but the fact is the University has declined it. In 2008, the BAU said that it does not own the land when it was asked for a no-objection certificate from the state road construction department, which wanted to construct the ‘Ring Road’ over the land. It means that the government has been illegally and forcefully acquiring the land on the power of gun. The High Court is also not ready to hear the Raiyats’ plea though they have right over the land and produced the entitlement papers in front of the Court. When the court is not ready to accept the official land papers of 60 years, deny the Fifth Schedule provision and CNT Act, then what will they do? Of course, if the democratic institutions are determined to deny the rights and claim of the Raiyats, they will come on to the road and take a decision because this is a democratic country, where the democracy is of the people, for the people and by the people. How can someone decide about the destiny of the villagers in a closed AC room illegally? How can Judges of the Jharkhand High Court forget that the India’s freedom movement and autonomy movement of Jharkhand both were also fought on the road only not in the A.C. Rooms?

The Jharkhand High Court has been attempting to justify the forceful and illegal acquisition of the land. Let’s presume that the land was acquired in 1957-58 and also find out whether the Raiyats’ claim is illegal as the Court has stated in its orders. The land of Nagri village was acquired under the section 17 (4) of the Land Acquisition Act 1984 for the ‘public purpose’ in urgency. In the case of urgency, the land was supposed to be acquired within 15 days of the public notification and it should be free from all encumbrances. But in this case, the government didn’t take position till December 2011. The urgency is also clearly mentioned in section 17 (2) that the necessary to acquire the immediate possession of any land for the purpose of maintaining any structure or system pertaining to irrigation, water supply, drainage, road communication or electricity. Hence, the extension of the University cannot be urgency under the Act. However, if it was urgency then why didn’t the Government take possession on the land for last 60 years? The High Court says in its order that since, the cultivators didn’t challenge the acquisition in 1958 therefore, the section 17 (4) cannot be challenged after 60 years. The court has neglected the fact that the villages had challenged the land acquisition in 1957-58 and declined the compensation. Is it possible for the cultivators to challenge everything in the court? Can the Court expect from the Raiyats to do so when the Court itself has stated in the order that the majority of the villagers are illiterate and poor? Can court think of patiently for the protection of the rights of these people instead of facilitating the forceful and illegal and grab? The High Court doesn’t have duty to protect the rights of the marginalized people?

Let’s also accept the fact that it was acquired for the extension of the Birsa Agriculture University and Seed Bank. If that is true then why land has been transferred to the IIM, the IIIT and the Law University in free of cost? Is it not the breach of law? And how can the government deceive the Raiyats like this, since, the land was supposed to be acquired for the BAU? According to the Land Acquisition (Amendment and Validation) Ordinance 1967, the acquired land cannot be used for other purposes than said during the acquisition. In the case of the Heavy Engineering Corporation, Ranchi, the Deputy Commissioner of Ranchi wrote to the Land Reform Commissioner in 1991 that the HEC has sub-leased 300 acres of land to other private institutions, which is against of the said purpose in the lease agreement. The letter further states that the sublease is illegal therefore, action should be taken against the HEC. But nothing has happened against the HEC till the date but why the High Court is not taking any action against the HEC? Is the High Court not aware about it?

Similarly, according to the Bihar Land Reforms Act, 1950 (amended in 1972), land acquired before 1972 and not used for the said purpose had to be returned to the tenants back. This Act is applied in this case precisely because when the land said to be acquired, the area was under the state of Bihar. The Land Acquisition Act 1894 also has a provision in section–48, which states that the Government shall be at liberty to withdraw from the acquisition of any land of which possession has not been taken. The government had not taken possession on the land of Nagri for 60 years. Hence, it was totally free from the acquisition. However, the land was forcefully and illegally captured by the state Government with the power of Gun only in January 2012 therefore, it should be returned to the villagers. But why is the High Court mum on the above fact? Is the Court deliberately covering up the laws, which are in favour of the Raiyats? Why is the Court not questioning the government for bypassing these laws, which are favour of the Raiyats?

According to the Chhota Nagpur Land Tenancy Act 1908, the agriculture land cannot be acquired for non-agriculture purpose. The land of Nagri village is a complete agriculture. However, the Court denied protecting the rights of the Raiyats. Instead, the Court has questioned the Government whether it has taken a decision that all lands which have been acquired after the year 1894 or at least since 1957-58, and it was cultivable at that time, shall be declared deacquisitioned and will be returned back to the cultivators? Why this inequitable decision will be for those persons only, whose land have not been violently protested when possession of the land was taken over and whether the Government will be guided by law of violence and will not hear the law abiding persons, who obeyed the law? The fact is the deacquistion of all lands is not possible but the court should order the government to find out all the displaced masses and rehabilitate them. However, the government should return the unutilized land to the original cultivators wherever it is possible. It is also fact that the people have simply not surrendered their land by obeying the colonial law the Land Acquisition Act 1894 but their lands were forcefully and illegally capture under the terror of Gun since 1894. The history of each and every so-called development project suggests that they Raiyats had protested during the land acquisition therefore, the High Court should order the Government to right the historical wrong instead of forcing the government to continue to historical injustice.

The High Court says that even if the government wants to withdraw the acquisition, it cannot do only for the land of which possession has not been taken. The Court also says that nobody can question the acquisition because it has been acquired by the government for ‘public purpose’ under the section 6 of the Land Acquistion Act 1894. The High Court has referred the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act 1894 and also mentioned that this Act has been enacted by the Parliament and the binding law in the entire country as back as in the year 1894 and since then, thousands and thousands of acres of cultivable land have been acquired under the provisions of this Act of 1894. However, the same court completely forgets that the state of Jharkhand comes under the Fifth Schedule Areas provision made under the Article 244 of the Indian Constitution, where the Governor is empowered to repeal any Act either enforced by the Parliament or the Legislative Assemblies, merely through the public notification if the Law is not suitable for the schedule area to have retrospective effect.

The Governor is also constitutional abided to see whether the Adivasis are alienated from their livelihood resources. According to the Chota Nagpur Tenacy Act 1908, Bhuihari and Khutkatti land cannot be sold and acquired. Some part of Nagri’s land comes under Bhuihari of the CNT Act but why didn’t the Jharkhand High Court notice such protective Law while hearing the case? The High Court has taken cognizance in many cases as sue-motto especially in the cases of corruption and human rights violation in general. However, thousands and thousands of acres of lands have been acquired illegally after bypassing the CNT Act 1908, SPT Act 1955, PESA Act 1996, the Provisions of Fifth Schedule and Forest Rights Act 2006 but why the Court is silence especially in the matters of the Adivasis? Why is the High Court enforcing a colonial law in the state?

The High Court has also said that ‘a country where the laws are framed by the members of state Legislative in the State or by the Parliament in the Parliament and these persons projecting themselves leaders questioning the land acquisition after more than half century, in the year 2012 at time when construction started on the land and they become wiser now and they tried to instigate the innocent persons against the proposed construction. It further mentions that simply because it is known to everybody that state of Jharkhand comprises of more members of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribals and most of the population is poor and illiterate, who can be misguided by slightest elusion picture in the mind of those person’. Ironically, the High Court is not ready to protect the rights of the innocent persons but when they resist to protecting their rights the court coined it as instigated by the vested interest groups. Since, the Court is aware that majority of the people are illiterate and poor, in that case how can the High Court facilitate the alienation of livelihood resources from them? How can the Court deny protecting the rights of these people?

The villagers have been protesting to protect their land. They sat on protest for 125 days, which had begun on 5 March, 2012. They were sitting, eating and sleeping on their agricultural land in day and night even during the mid of summer, consequently, three women – Mangi Oraon, Dashmi Oraon and Tebo Oraon died due to hit by the sun stroke. They died while fighting to protect their ancestral land. Similarly, on 4 April, 2012, when the boundary wall of the IIM was pulled down, only the villagers were present at the spot. The villagers have taken all the decisions and they executed it accordingly. Obviously, the people of 35 villages of adjoining areas are supporting the movement as they have also given the notice for acquisition of their 28,000 acres of land for the proposed greater Ranchi project. Therefore, the Court should not be in illusion that the outsider leaders, social and rights activists are instigating the villagers. Of course, they are supporting them and that is not a crime. The Court has ordered the Government to translate the order and handover to the villagers so that they can understand the fact. When the officers went to handover the Court’s orders to the villagers, they refuge to receive it. Why? Are they again misguided by someone?

The Court also said that those who are challenging the land acquisition were not born when acquisition was done, and had no knowledge about the facts of acquisition. The dispute has been raised only at the instigation of some leaders and is not bonafide, which is apparent from the fact that since last more than 60 years, no body objected to the acquisition of land, make in the year 1957-58. The court has been keeping aside the fact that the Raiyats have been protesting against the land acquisition since 1957-58 and the government also didn’t try again to acquire the land in last 50 years. Meanwhile, the acquisition process was again started in November, 2009 since then, the villagers are protesting against it. It is lie to say that the Raiyats who are protesting are not aware about land acquisition attempted in 1957-58. There are many old people present in the village, who had taken part in the protest in 1957-58. They keep telling that how they had chased away the officers who had come to their village for acquisition of their land.

The High Court has also said that the State should deal with the scrupulous elements effectively to have the progress of the state of Jharkhand for which state of Jharkhand was carved out from the state of Bihar and the establishment of these institutions will also substantially help the public of the state of Jharkhand. The Court should know that the state of Jharkhand was a result of the historical autonomous movement of the Adivasis and Moolvasis therefore; the development should not be done over their graves. The fact is the Adivasis and Moolvasis were never against of the development. They have surrendered thousands and thousands acres of their fertile lands that’s why the state has the Heavy Engineering Corporation, Bokaro Steel Plan, TATA Steel, Power Projects, Irrigation Projects, Mega Dams and Mining Projects. However, the fact is the majority of the Adivasis didn’t even taste the development. Why? Are judges aware, sensitive and honest while dealing with the cases of these people?

The Raiyats of Nagri and the people who are supporting the Nagri Movement are not against of development at all, but they oppose the forceful and illegal acquisition of agricultural land. The People have never opposed the so-called prestigious institutions – IIM, IIIT and Law University. Instead, they have also given the option to the state government to shift these institutions to Kutte village, which is situated merely at a distance of 3 km south from Nagri village, where 1900 acres of barren land available. A prestigious school ‘Sphere International’ has been built up on rocky land on Ranchi-Khunti highway then why these so-called prestigious institutions should be built up only on fertile land? Will these institutions not grow if built up in the barren land? However, a billion dollar question remained unanswered is development for whom and at what cost? The High Court should also find out the answer of above questions before helping the state in land grab.

The Jharkhand High Court said that so far the land of University is concerned, most of the land is not cultivable land and it was not under the cultivation, and further the documents placed on record by the applicants cannot be said to have any relation with the land in question which is handed over to the University. It further says that in fact out of the acquisition land if anybody has cultivated for a short period here and there that will make no difference and will not create any rights to the person. The question is if the land is not cultivable and was not under the cultivation, then how did the villagers of Nagri survived for last 60 years? Were they eating soil and mud for their survival? The court is also not ready to accept the revenue record, Jamabandi (tax of land), land entitlement papers, which villagers had produced in front of the Court. However, the same Court accepted the revenue record produced by the University merely for last six months. Why? Is it not a result of biasness?

The Court says that since the villagers are poor therefore, the government didn’t oppose the payment of compensation with 15 percent interest and in that situation when such interest rate was not prevailing at that time. The fact is that it has been mentioned in the Land Acquisition Act 1894 section- 34 that when the amount of such compensation is not paid or deposited or before taking possession of the land, the Collector shall pay the amount awarded with interest there on at the rate of 9 per annum from the time of so taking possession until it shall have been so paid or deposited. It has been also provided that if such compensation or any part thereof is not paid or deposited within a period of one year from the date on which possession is taken, interest at the rate of 15 percent per annum shall be payable from the date or expiry of the said period of one year. Since, the Court claims that the acquisition had been done in 1957-58 in that case, the Court should have asked to the government to pay 9 percent interest in the deposited amount instead of 15 percent at one time. Why is the Court always taking the side of the government? The Court has also said that most of the applicants have received the compensation, which is of course again a lie. The truth is out of 153 cultivators, only 25 cultivators of a particular community had received the compensation. The court also states that the applicants are in possession of the land because of non-payment and non-receiving of the compensation amount, which is completely baseless. The cultivators are determined to protest their land therefore; they are resisting for saving their agricultural land and had always opposed the compensation.

The Court has stated that some persons are misguiding the villagers and imprinting a picture that thereafter the state of Jharkhand will have to starve out and starvation will be because of the non-availability of cultivable land. The court should know that the majority of Jharkhandi people especially the Adivasis depend on agro-forest for their livelihood. Hence, if they are alienated from the livelihood resources, they’ll die due to starvation and it has already started. In fact, the Jharkhand Government has signed MoUs with national and multi-national companies for 104 mega projects. If these MoUs are materialized approximately 2 lakh acres of land will be acquired, and of course, the most part of the land will be agricultural. Consequently, 10 lakh people will lose their livelihood resources and displaced. What will happen to their future? Therefore, the people of Jharkhand are against of conversion of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes. However, people are not against of development projects if these are being built on the barren land and with the objective of maximum benefit to the local people. The Saranda Forest is crucial example, where more than 50 legal iron-ore mining projects are running but that fact is local inhabitants are not benefited. Why? Though the people are not opposing the so-called prestigious institutions but the question need to be answered is how many Adivasis will be benefited from the IIM, IIIT and Law University too?

The population of the state has been growing very fast therefore, the government should think of how to feeding these masses in future, precisely, because the agriculture lands have been converted for non-agriculture poses in the state very fast. If the Government does not save the agriculture land, will it feed its people with iron, mud and stone? Therefore, the Government must think for judiciously use of the land. How can Government decide to give any amount of land to the private companies? For example, the Jharkhand Government has signed MoU with the Arcellor Mittal Company allowing the company to acquire 25,000 acre of land for an integrated Steel Plant. Similarly, the TATA STEEL was allowed to acquire 24,500 acre and list goes on. On the other hand, thousand acres of land remain unutilized in BSL, HEC and TATA, etc. Are these companies coming to the state for developing it or their intention is to make an empire in the state? Irony is, on the one hand, the state government spends crore of public money for conversion of barren land into agricultural land and the agriculture land is transferred for non-agriculture purposes on the other. Is it not the misuse of public money? Why the Court is quit in these matters?

The Jharkhand High Court seems to be much worried about the future of those students, who have come to the state from the outside for their studies. The Court has mentioned in its order that there are large number of students still living in hostels provided by some authorities of the State Government but by charging huge amount of rent resulting into heavy burden upon the students and otherwise also. But at the same time the Court seems to be non-sensitive towards the children of Adivasis of Nagri. Why? Why is the High Court not worried about the livelihood, education and future of Adivasi children? There are thousands of children in Nagri village, who have been protesting on the road after deserting their schools to save their land because they are well aware that if land is snatched they will have no future. Do these children also have right to education as provided in RTE Act 2009? The Indian Constitution guaranteed equal rights to everyone. But why the Judiciary is biased against the Adivasis? Are these children not the citizens of India? Indeed, it’s very clear that the Judiciary is completely against of the Adivasis.

Ironically, the Law University states in its vision paper that it will develop the ‘Center of excellence for Advocacy of Human Rights with special focus on Tribal Rights’. The moral question is how can the Law University advocate for the rights of Adivasis (tribals) after snatching their livelihood resources for building its centers of excellence? Will it not be an attempt of rubbing salt on Adivasis’ wound? People like Justice Prakash Tatia must read a famous story of Munshi Premchan i.e. ‘Panch Parmeshwar’ before hearing these kinds of cases so that they would be able to deliver justice to the people and also protect the Indian Judicial system. The Justice V R Krishna Iyer once told in the Supreme Court that the ”Judges cannot render justice to the poor because they don’t understand their socio-economic problems. They are from a different world”. The case of Nagri has proved that justice V R Krishna Iyer absolutely right.

On 14 July, 2012, the students mostly outsiders studying in Law University asked us that why are we opposing the construction of Law University at Nagri? If they don’t get the University Campus their future will be at stake? They said that the people elect the government and the acquisition has been done by the same Government therefore, how it can be illegal and forceful? After patiently hearing their queries, I responded them that we are not opposing the Law University but the illegal and forceful acquisition, and we have also given the several options to the Government. But they were not convinced with my answers. However, when I asked them that how many acres lands they have? They responded that each one of them possess some patches of land and houses as well. I immediately asked them to surrender their land to me so that I’ll talk to the government and the Law University would be at their door. They were mum and went back to their hostel. This is one of the living examples, which proves that the elite class is always ready to harvest at any cost and they don’t bother about the marginalized people. And of course, the Indian Judiciary is dominated by them only. If the Raiyats of Nagri village are unable to protect their land, the Adivasis of Jharkhand will not only lose their faith in the India Judiciary but they will also have no faith in the Indian democracy.

Gladson Dungdung is a Human Rights Activist and associated with the Nagri People’s Movement.

General

The Buck Stops at Your Door Mr. Chidambaram

Gladson Dungdung
JharkhandMirror.org

The Adivasis live and die with the Nature. They believe in the super natural God, therefore; they worship the Nature in every occasion. The Adivasis’ economy is totally based on the Agriculture and Forest, which also depends merely on rainfall. Therefore, the villagers get together and pray to their Super Natural God before and after the harvesting. The Adivasi communities also have their own democracy, which is totally based on ‘consent’, which they practice in every village in every occasion. On 28 June, 2012, the Adivasis of Kottaguda, Sarkeguda and Rajpenta village in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh had gathered at Kottaguda village to plan for the performance of the traditional festival “Beej Pandum (seed Festival) so that they would celebrate the festival and start sowing the seeds on their lands as the Monsoon has reached to the region.

Unfortunately, 17 of them were attending this kind of meeting for the last time in their life. The Cobra battalion of the CRPF and the Chhattisgarh police, who were deployed in the region in the name of elimination of the Maoists, surrounded the villagers and fired on them without giving any signal to the villagers. Consequently, 16 of them got bullets in their chests, heads and other parts of the body, and died in the spot and 1 was brutally killed in the next morning. The Security Forces claimed of killing 18 dreaded Maoists and celebrated it as one of the grand successes in anti-Naxal Operations. Similarly, P. Chidambaram, the Union Home Minister had also claimed that the Security Forces had shot top Naxal leaders in Chhattisgarh, and when the encounter was questioned he attempted to cover up it.

However, when the breaking news of encounter appeared in the television screens and the print media, the story seems to be totally untrue. The question immediately came into one’s mind was, how could 18 top Maoists have a meeting in a village, which is situated merely at a distance of 3 km from the CRPF camp? The truth of Bijapur encounter was finally revealed. A brave Journalist Aman Sethi, who has been tirelessly reporting on the state sponsored crime against the Adivasis of Chhattisgarh; this time also exposed the lies of the top cops, the Chhattisgarh government and Home Minister P. Chidambaram. According to his report, the security forces fired at a peaceful gathering of villagers, killing 20 of them, including five children aged 12-15, and sexually assaulted at least four girls during the encounter. The conclusion of the story was no Maoists were present in the village that day. The villagers had gathered to discuss the upcoming seed festival, when the security forces fired on them, which led to death of 20 villagers including 5 children.

The report of a three member Fact-Finding team comprising of Mr. J P Rao, Mr. Kopa Kunjam and Dr. Nandini Sundar, who visited Kottaguda, Sarkeguda and Lingagiri villages on 3rd and 4th July 2012 revealed the further shocking facts. According to the report, these villages were attack by the Salwa Judum Militia in 2005. They had killed 2 people and almost all the houses in all three villages were burnt. Consequently, the villagers had migrated to Andhra Pradesh and returned to their villages only in 2009. They were again attacked by the Security Forces this time, which led to death of 17 villagers including 7 minors. Apart from that, 9 have been injured, and at least 5 women have been beaten, assaulted and molested.

When the truth was unearthed, the Union Home Minister and Architect of the ‘Operation Green Hunt’ P. Chidambaram said ‘deeply sorry’ for killing of innocent civilians. The pertinent question here would be, is saying merely ‘sorry’ enough for brutal killing of 17 innocent Adivasis? Secondly, why are the political parties keeping quit in this matter especially the opposition party the BJP? Would they have behaved in the similar manner if 17 innocent non-Adivasis would have been killed in the cold-blooded murder? Will the BJP keep quit if the similar incident takes place in the Congress rule state? Who is responsible for massacre of innocent Adivasis? Is it not P. Chidambaram, who has been deploying the Security Forces in the Adivasis regions since, 2009 in the name of eliminating the Maoists?

The CRPF DG Vijay Kumar shamelessly justified the criminal acts of the Security Forces saying that it was impossible for the forces to know who they were firing at that night. He further says that the entire area is a “very hazy world”, in which it is impossible to identify who is a Naxal and who is not. The can be raised are why did the Security Forces fire on the villagers if they didn’t know whom they were firing on? Who had given them order to fire on the innocent villagers? And can the Security Forces fire on anybody merely on the basis of suspicion? The SDM Kuruvanshi, who has been appointed to investigate, questions the villagers that why they were meeting at night? He also doesn’t want to visit villagers but has summoned the villagers to his office, which clearly indicates that the state is determined not only to deny justice to the Adivasis but also continue the state sponsored crime against them.

The Teheka’s editor Shoma Chaudhary raised a most important question is her column ‘editor cut’ that Why is life in Bastar so cheap? A simple answer to this question is, since the Indian state seems to believe that all the Adivasis living in the forest regions across the country are Maoists/Naxals, who are biggest threat to the ‘investment climate’. The India’s Economist Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh is always worried about the investment climate rather than its constitutional duty to protect the rights of its citizens. In fact, the Indian State is determined to grab the resources of the Adivasi regions at any cost, which will pave the way to India becoming the super power. Therefore, the Security Forces have been deployed in the forests to kill the Adivasis, who oppose to surrender their land, forest, water and other natural resources to the Indian state in the name of growth and development.

However, when we raise the question on fake encounter, the counter question comes back to us is why we keep quite when the Maoists kill the Security Forces? The answer for this question can be found in another question i.e. why does the Indian State send the security forces to the forest, where it didn’t reach in last 60 years? Is it for the protection of the villagers or to facilitate the mineral loot? If the Indian state sends the Security Forces to provide security to the people, then why do the security forces kill the innocent villagers, torture them and rape the women instead of protecting them? For whose security, the Security Forces are deployed in the Forests? Is it not true that the Security Forces are deployed in the forest to protect the corporate interest rather than protecting the people?

Whatever may be the intellectual arguments, but the fact is that the hundreds of innocent civilians have been killed in anti-Naxal operations across the country since 2009 but no major investigation was done till the date. Therefore; the Corporate Home Minister P. Chidambaram must leave his office, precisly because he is responsible for the brutal killing of all the innocent villagers including 17 innocent Adivasis of Kottaguda, Sarkeguda and Rajpenta villages of Chhattisgarh. The questions should be asked to Mr. P. Chidambaram that is it enough to say sorry after taking away the precious lives of 17 innocent people? Will he go for the CBI probe in all the cases of fake encounters took place in anti-Naxal operations across the country? And will he punish the top cops for killing the innocent civilians or let them enjoy the impunity? Remember, the buck stops at your door Mr. Chidambaram.

Gladson Dungdung is a Human Rights Activist. He can be reached at gladsonhractivist@gmail.com

General

Police Brutality in Latehar

By Gladson Dungdung
JharkhandMirror
Sylvester Minj in Hospital

On 2nd May, 2012, it was 5 O’clock in the evening. We entered into the general ward of Orthopedics Department of the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), Ranchi. After a long search, we found 40 year-old Sylvester Minj, lying on the bed. His son Roshan was sitting on the other side of the bed and eying on his father with hopeless sight. Another care taker, Sylvester’s cousin brother M. Minj was sleeping on the ground near his bed. As soon as we approached them, they became alert. And after seeing us with pen, notepad and camera in hands, they took us for guaranteed as we are Journalists. Sylvester was not able to turn his head in either sides of bed as his head was tied up with the bed’s frame straightly. Since, he wants the world to know about the ordeal he underwent through therefore, he is ready to response each and every question whoever asks him. He is one of the unfortunate villagers, whom the Security forces brutally tortured on April 5. His only crime is; he happens to a cousin brother of late Lucas Minj, whom the forces had killed in a cold-blood murder and buried on the bank of Koel River during anti-Naxal operation on January 31.  Continue reading “Police Brutality in Latehar”