Jharkhand – Illegal detention of Human Rights Activists, Writer and Photographer

May 17, 2010

17 May 2010

Jharkhand is known for its mineral resources and people’s movement against the land acquisition for the corporate houses. However, a Corporate House “Bhushan Steel and Power Limited” has purchased 135 acres of private land secretly from the villagers belonging to the business community of Potka comes under East Singbhum district in Jharkhand. The company has started leveling the land and already established 3 portable ITI centre (moving house) at Potka village. The initial work of establishment has resulted in a sense of insecurity and tension among the villagers of entire Potka region.

Needless to says that the company has singed an MoU with the Jharkhand government on 7 September, 2006 for establishing an integrated steel plant of 3 Mt and 900 MW power plant with the estimated investment of 10,500 crore. Consequently, there would be mass displacement and the local people especially the Adivasis have been protesting against the land acquisition for steel and power plants since 2006. So far, the company has failed to implement its plan.

The company had announced a formal Bhumi Pujan (inauguration) programme to be conducted on May 16. Consequently, the situation was completely tense. There were series of meetings going on in the villages under the banner of “Bisthapan Virodhi Ekta Manchi” a pioneer organization of the displacement movement supported by many people’s organizations and movements. The organization had decided to impose an indefinite “Janta Curfew” (People Curfew) at Potka, which had begun at 6 PM on May 15.

Gladson Dungdung Human Rights Activist, writer and convener of Jharkhand Indigenous people’s forum, Joy Raj Tudu Programme Head Jharkhand Initiatives, Vijay Munda – DBSS, Arvind Kishku volunteer Jharkhand Initiatives of CNI-SBSS, Photographer Gopal Paswan and Badal Sardar convener of Khutkati Raiyat Bhumi Raksha Samity were taken to police custody at 10 PM in the night on May 15 while they were coming back to Roladih village after attending a preparation meeting at Khariasai village. The OC of Potka Police Station, Mr. Mahesh Prasad arrested them near Potka village. After some time, SP of Jamshedpur rural Mr. Shashikant Kujur reached on the spot. After verifying identity cards, vehicle papers and checking, all 6 people were taken to Potka police station.

The OC Mr. Mahesh Prasad questioned why you people are protesting against the Bhushan Company. He said that you have seen women going to Jamshedpur for job. If the plant is established, they will get job at Potka itself. He threatened that if the protesters do not allow establishing the plants of Bhushan Company then their kids would face a serious problem during the verification for their jobs. The Superintendent of Police Mr. Shashikant Kujur said that if you want to talk to the officials of the Bhushan Company we would connect you with them. You can get job, tender and money from the company, which would lead you to a good life. You have to just convince people to withdraw the people’s curfew and let the Bhumi Pujan to be conducted.

All 6 people were illegally detained for 6 hours alleging that being the outsiders; they have come to instigate the villagers against the Bhushan Company. They were released at 4’O clock in the morning on May 16 with the condition to leave Potka immediately. The OC of Potka Mr. Mahesh Prasad threatened that if they take part in the protest against the Bhushan Steel they would be facing a dire consequence and booked under IPC 144 and other serious offence. The acts of the OC and the SP are serious violation of the Human rights guaranteed through the Indian Constitution Article 19, 21 and 22.

Therefore, we demand for:

1. A high level inquiry should be done on the case of illegal detaining and the police officers role in the establishment of the Bhushan Company.

2. A legal action against the OC of Potka police station Mr. Mahesh Prasad and the Rural Superintendent of Police Mr. Shashikant Kujur who illegally detained Human Rights Activists, Writer and Photographer for 6 hours in Potka Police Station.

3. The OC of Potka police station Mr. Mahesh Prasad and the Superintendent of Police (Jamshedpur – Rural) Mr. Shashikant Kujur should be immediately transferred from their posts precisely because instead of maintaining the law and order they are influencing the villagers on behalf of the Bhushan Steel and Power Ltd.

4. The MoU of the Bhushan Steel and Power Ltd. should be immediately cancelled and a case should be filed against the company to creating tense, insecurity and clash among the communities.

5. The villagers should be given protection and their livelihood resources should not be allowed to be taken away by any of the corporate criminals including the state.

Yours Sincerely,

Rakesh Roshan Kiro (General Secretary, JIPF, Ranchi)
Sudeep Tigga (Team Leader, CNI-Resource Centre for Social Action on Tribal Identity and Indigenous Rights, Ranchi)