Killings in Barkagaon, Jharkhand: CDRO and Swaraj Abhiyan Statements

October 7, 2016

The recent killing of protesters by police in Jharkhand at the NTPC site near Barkagaon drew the condemnation of a wide spectrum of organizations. The press statements released by CDRO and Swaraj Abhiyan are presented.

 

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COORDINATION OF DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS

Police killed five villagers at National Thermal Power Corporation site in Jharkhand

Press Release

04.10.2016

Coordination of Democratic Rights Organizations, (CDRO), expresses grave concern over the killing of five protestors and injury of fifteen others by police on 1st October 2016, at the National Thermal Power Corporation site at Chepakatn, Darikala and Barkagaon villages in Keredari block, 52 km from district headquarters Hazaribaga in Jharkhand. Those killed were Ranjan Ravidas, Mahtab Alam, Rajesh Sau, Abhishek Rai, and Pawan Sau.

The incident happened when police opened fire on the villagers to suppress protest against land acquisition by the National Thermal Power Corporation for a coal mining project. It is worth reminding that the Central Government had allocated coal mining blocks at Pakri Barwadih to the NTPC. The NTPC had sub-contracted coal mining to two private firms, Thriveni Earthmovers and Sainik Coal, last year. However, altogether 36 villages that would be badly affected by the mining had been raising protest for the past 10 years. Villagers have launched two koyla satyagrahas in the past two years – digging coal by hand, selling it to traders and paying royalty to the gram sabha, offering this as an alternative model of mining in the region.

The government had been adamant to allow NTPC mining at any cost. It had adopted brutal repressive tactics to suppress protests. This had led to series of violent clashes in the past. On 23rd July 2013, police opened fire at farmers in Pagar village when they tried to stop an NTPC contractor from starting the construction of an office. A 55-year-old farmer, Keshar Mahto, died on the spot, while three were injured. On 14th August 2015, police fired 22 rounds of bullets at the protestors, injuring six people including a journalist. The incident of 1st October was, therefore, a repetition of police brutality to suppress protest, so as to ensure safety to coal mining that began at Chirudih Village on 17th May.

CDRO strongly condemned the police for unleashing reign of terror, leading to the killing and injury of several helpless villagers who are defending their democratic and economic rights over land and natural resources.

On behalf of CDRO:

C. Chandrasekhar (CLC, Andhra Pradesh), Asish Gupta (PUDR, Delhi), Pritpal Singh (AFDR, Punjab), Phulindro Konsam (COHR, Manipur) and Tapas Chakraborty (APDR, West Bengal) (Coordinators of CDRO)

 

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Swaraj Abhiyan

Press Release

October 4, 2016

Swaraj Abhiyan Mourns the Murder of Innocent Villagers by Police Firing in Jharkhand: Is Dismantling Social & Constitutional Legal Framework for Gunpoint Development the BJP Governments’ Agenda?

In the aftermath of the Jharkhand firing and killing, Union Environment Forest and Climate Change Minister Anil M Dave’s uninformed, disdainful and shocking statement that the Central Government will change forest and wildlife laws to make forests productive is alarming – Swaraj Abhiyan will join mass protests to stop this sinister plan

Within one month, this is the second incident of death by police firing at Jharkhand and the Central and State Governments seem to be comfortable with the loss of lives of the very same citizens who elected them to power

The Raghubar Das BJP Government is allegedly violating Mining, Land Acquisition and Forest Rights Act through manipulation – Swaraj Abhiyan demands independent investigation and public announcement of the results of the investigation

Swaraj over land and mineral rights of communities being snatched – tribals and tribal rights being trivialized, trampled and traumatized – Swaraj Abhiyan demands that all laws to protect tribals, land rights and community rights be observed in letter and spirit

Brutality towards democratic rights and peaceful movements seems to be the order of the day in Jharkhand – Swaraj Abhiyan demands identification of the officials responsible for the deaths and appropriate punishment

Swaraj Abhiyan mourns the death of 5 innocent villagers who fell prey to police bullets at Barkagoan in Jharkhand. It seems the police are becoming the largest threat to life and security of people. The elected Government that holds office on oath to uphold the Constitution of India is violating that solemn pledge by trampling upon the democratic rights of people rather than protecting it.

What is even more shocking is that the Central Government is planning to increase the lawlessness by curtailing rights of people under forest and wildlife laws, supposedly to make forests “productive” – today’s statement by the Union Environment Forest and Climate Change Minister Anil M Dave that gram sabhas cannot be held as people do not want to attend it is an assault on the very foundation on which the Constitution of India is built.

Swaraj Abhiyan expresses concern at the repeated incidents of use of force by the police, which has led to two incidents of firing within one month and has caused deaths of people who were un-armed and were protesting democratically. This has become the order of the day in many regions of the country including Jharkhand and shows that the Government is losing control over the governed; perhaps there is now a need to independently assess the law and order situation in Jharkhand and see if Constitutional governance is collapsing and needs Constitutional intervention.

Swaraj Abhiyan believes that there cannot be any development over the dead bodies of people and by destruction of their livelihoods. Human lives are not collateral damage that can be sacrificed at the alter of so-called progress. Laws made for governance have to be obeyed and not twisted to meet the convenience of vested interests. Allegations against the Raghubar Das BJP Government for violating laws through manipulation must be immediately investigated by an independent agency and the results of the investigation must be publicly announced. This bloodbath by the Government must stop and the Government must act according to the findings and recommendations of the investigation agency.

Swaraj Abhiyan demands adequate compensation to the families of those who have lost their lives in this incident, Government jobs for the next of kin and harshest punishment to the perpetrators of this crime, no matter how high and mighty they are. All those injured in the police action must also be given best medical attention and relief at the cost of the Government and adequate compensation for the trauma and turmoil they have suffered in the hands of the Government.

Prashant Bhushan

Yogendra Yadav

Avik Saha

President, Swaraj Abhiyan

President, Swaraj India

Convenor, Jai Kisan Andolon