Statements condemning the murder of Niyamat Ansari

September 18, 2011

A Response from CPI(Maoist)

[The following letter, originally written in Hindi, was received by the civil liberties organizations to whom it is addressed. We are publishing the translated version of the letter in continuation of our coverage of the issue.-Ed]

THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF INDIA (MAOIST) [Bihar – Jharkhand – North Chhattisgarh – UP Territorial Regional Committee]

1st September 2011

Red salute to all the members of PUCL, PUDR and all the justice loving intellectuals!

This is to inform you that on 2nd March, 2011, Niyamat Ansari of village Jerua, PO Manika, District Latehar (Jharkhand) was awarded the death penalty as per the regulations/procedure of our lower level committee. As Niyamat Ansari and Bhukhan Singh, were working in close association with Gram Swaraj Sanstha and Jean Dreze, member of the Central Vigilance Committee of NREGA, some intellectuals across the entire state and country have in one voice criticized the CPI (Maoist) party for this incident. Along with this a fact finding team was constituted under the leadership of Jean Dreze in which some of the intellectuals who support our movement were included. Nandlal Singh, Gokhul Basant, Aruna Roy were part of this team. Following this in reaction one of the members of our lower level committee without applying his mind put up posters asking for action against these intellectual friends in our people’s court. Also some words were used in a pamphlet, which were nowhere near correct, as citizens can express their reaction even on any right action of ours. It is their right to express their opposition in response. Even in such a situation our organisation does not believe in taking any such action. Therefore in this matter, with the most heart-felt self- criticism we take back the decree issued by our lower committee members and apologize to all the justice loving intellectuals for these mistakes. Also no action will be taken on Bhukhan Singh for the time being and the lower level committee too has been prohibited from taking any such action.

Now the question is why was Niyamat Ansari awarded the death penalty. On this matter too several facts have been provided by the lower level committee. But nevertheless we have not reached a conclusion, as a team has been constituted to do a fact finding on the above incident. We assure you people that we will do an in depth fact finding in this matter and will try to present the truth behind this incident at the earliest.

With revolutionary greetings.
Spokesperson.
Manas

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PUDR Statement against alleged threats by CPI(Maoist)

PRESS RELEASE
29/07/2011

People’s Union for Democratic Rights, Delhi (PUDR) condemns the threats being issued by the CPI (Maoist) party to members of the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan and to others investigating and protesting against the killing of Niyamat Ansari at Manika block in Jharkhand.

Niyamat Ansari, the convenor of Manika block unit of Gram Swaraj Abhiyan and the MNREGA Support Centre was killed on 2 March this year.

PUDR expresses concern that posters and printed leaflets had appeared in Manika claiming to have been brought out by the CPI(Maoist) threatening to punish Gokul Vasant, Nand Lal, Jean Dreze and Aruna Roy for claiming Niyamat Ansari’s innocence. It also contained a renewed threat to the lives of Bhukan Singh and members of the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan.

The CPI(Maoist) party has owned up and justified the killing of Ansari by claiming he was involved in corrupt practices. A two member team comprising Gokul Vasant and Nand Lal from Daltonganj have investigated these allegations and declared them to be baseless.

PUDR and many other organisations have condemned the killing and demanded that the CPI(Maoist) hand over the culprits, that they publicly apologise and that an assurance be given that no harm should come to Ansari’s colleague, Bhukan Singh.

PUDR finds this kind of intolerant behaviour by the CPI (Maoist) wholly unacceptable. We urge the CPI(Maoist) to recognize that people have a right to criticize and a right to carry on politics in accordance with their beliefs. Intolerance of people’s rights to question does not pave the way for a just society.

PUDR demands that the CPI (Maoist) withdraw the threat immediately and respect the right of people to form associations as per their conscience.

Paramjeet Singh
Harish Dhawan
Secretaries, PUDR

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Statement: Justice for Niyamat Ansari

March 10, 2011

We condemn in the strongest possible terms the recent murder of NREGA activist Niyamat Ansari in Kope Gram Panchayat (Latehar District, Jharkhand), as well as a similar attempt – the same day – on the life of his associate Bhukhan Singh.

The facts of the case are summarised in the attached note. Briefly, this murder was the culmination of a series of acts of harassment, including at least one earlier attempt on Bhukhan and Niyamat’s lives. Bhukhan and Niyamat fearlessly continued to fight for the rights of NREGA workers and to stand up against the nexus of corruption and crime in the area. Niyamat was killed just a few days after he and others exposed a flagrant NREGA scam in Rankikalan Gram Panchayat.

We are dismayed by the insidious allegations that have been made about Niyamat in sections of the mainstream media, attempting to project him as a “criminal” to divert attention from the real issues and culprits. These reports were factually incorrect and the concerned publication carried an apology the following day.

We are most disturbed to learn from reliable sources that the murder was executed by a local Maoist squad. In fact, the South Latehar sub-zonal committee of the CPI (Maoist) itself claimed responsibility for it and attempted to justify the murder by making absurd allegations such as Niyamat and Bhukhan being police informers. Are we to understand from this incident that there is truth in the rumour of a nexus between the local Maoist squad of that area and corrupt contractors involved in the loot of NREGA funds?

We demand immediate arrest of the prime suspects (named in the FIR), compensation for Niyamat’s family, protection for Bhukhan Singh, and a CBI enquiry into Niyamat’s murder.

We also demand an apology and explanation from the Central Committee of the CPI (Maoist), and a guarantee of safety for Bhukhan Singh who is still “wanted” by the sub-zonal committee. No explanation, however, can justify the brutal murder of a defenceless person, let alone someone who was bravely fighting for people’s rights. This is a wholly reprehensible act and all those responsible for it must be punished.

Aruna Roy(Mazdoor Kisan Shatki Sangathan); Arundhati Roy (writer); Bela Bhatia (human rights activist); Cedric Prakash (human rights activist); Gautam Navlakha (People’s Union for Democratic Rights); Harish Dhawan (People’s Union for Democratic Rights); Harsh Mander (Aman Biradari); K.N. Panikkar (historian); Nandita Das (actress), Nikhil Dey (National Campaign for People’s Right to Information); Jean Drèze (Allahabad University); Kavita Srivastava (People’s Union for Civil Liberties); Nandini Sundar (Delhi School of Economics); Rajinder Sachar (People’s Union for Civil Liberties); Reetika Khera (IIT, Delhi); Satya Sivaraman (freelance journalist); Shabnam Hashmi (ANHAD); Shashi Bhushan Pathak (People’s Union for Civil Liberties); Swami Agnivesh (human rights activist); Vrinda Grover (Supreme Court lawyer).

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On the Gruesome Killing of Niyamat Ansari in Latehar District

by Peoples Union for Democratic Rights

March 8, 2011

PUDR condemns the killing of Niyamat Ansari in Manika PS area of Latehar district, Jharkhand by members of the CPI (Maoist) on 2 March 2011.

Niyamat Ansari and his colleague Bhukan Singh have been active for over a decade raising issues of right to food and employment guarantee. Niyamat was the convenor of the Manika block unit of the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan and the MNREGA Support Centre.

The activities of these activists led to the exposure of corrupt practices of local contractors and the grabbing of NREGA funds. Their complaints had led to the registration of an FIR against the contractors on 2 March itself. Over the past several months, Niyamat and Bhukan had been facing regular threats.

The involvement of the CPI (Maoist) party in the brutal killing is most horrifying. The press statement by that party gives flimsy grounds to justify the attack. It is expected from any organisation that claims to struggle for a more just society to have a greater respect for life.

There is continued threat to the life of Bhukan Singh, who managed to survive the attack since he was not present in the village at that time.

In the light of the above, PUDR demands:

1. That the persons responsible for the murder of Niyamat Ansari be handed over by the CPI Maoist so that they be tried for their criminal actions

2. Bhukan Singh be provided protection and that the CPI (Maoist) publicly apologize for the criminal action and declare that no harm shall come to Bhukan Singh.


Harish Dhawan & Paramjeet Singh
Secretaries, PUDR

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The Facts

by Jean Drèze

March 7, 2011

1. Niyamat Ansari was a resident of Kope Gram Panchayat in Manika Block, Latehar District. During the last few years, he was working with Gram Swaraj Abhiyan, a local campaign for village self-rule, also involved in issues such as the right to information, the right to food and the right to work.

2. Since NREGA was launched in 2006, Niyamat Ansari and his close friend Bhukhan Singh (also from Kope Gram Panchayat) have been working for the rights of NREGA workers in the area. This included helping labourers file work applications. From 2007 till February 2009, they supported a demand for unemployment allowance for several workers in Kope Panchayat. Their efforts bore fruit when in the Latehar Lok Adalat in February 2009, more than 90 workers were paid unemployment allowance for the first time in Jharkhand.

3. This and their fight against corruption in NREGA made them very unpopular in the eyes of local vested interests especially private contractors (who are still in control of many NREGA works in large parts of Jharkhand). In October 2008, they were attacked in their village by a gang of armed goons. They hid in a pile of wood to save their lives. In February 2009, immediately after the Lok Adalat, false cases were slapped against them.

4. Residents of Kope Gram Panchayat were attacked by goons in March 2009. Several people were brutally beaten, including some women.

5. In November 2010, their homes were locked up and other residents of the village were warned against helping them. Niyamat Ansari and Bhukhan Singh had clearly identified Shankar Dubey (a notorious local contractor) as the person behind this attack on them as well as behind the earlier attempt on their lives, in October 2008.

6. In February 2011, Niyamat Ansari played an important role in exposing a Rs. 2.5 lakh scam in NREGA in Rankikalan Gram Panchayat. Kailash Sahu, former BDO of Manika Block and Basudev Nagesia (Panchayat Sewak of Rankikalan) played a key role in this scam. A local contractor named Babloo Dubey, son of above-mentioned Shankar Dubey, was implementing the work and masterminding the scam. After an enquiry, an FIR was lodged against the BDO and Panchayat Sewak in late February, 2011.

7. On 2 March, 2011 a group of goons abducted Niyamat from his residence in Jerua village (Kope Gram Panchayat). He was brutally beaten for nearly one hour. According to eye witnesses, this was done by the same gang as in October 2008. It is strongly suspected that these men were acting under orders from Babloo Dubey and Shankar Dubey. After they deserted him, Niyamat’s brother and other family members carried his unconscious body on a charpoy from Jerua village to Manika thana, a distance of about 10km. Niyamat’s family reached Manika thana on foot, with Niyamat unconscious on a charpoy, before the administration managed to send an ambulance to them. After this, Niyamat was brough to Latehar Sadar Hospital. Soon after reaching there, he died. Despite being alerted to the danger to their lives, the district and state administration failed to save his life.

8. Bhukhan Singh was also being sought out, but he was able to save his life by hiding. On the morning of 3 March, 2011 he was brought to Latehar by the district authorities.

9. The same day, on 3 March 2011, an FIR was lodged in Latehar by Niyamat’s sister, naming eight culprits: “Sudarshan”; Shankar Dubey; Vijay Dubey (probably the same person as Babloo Dubey); Purushottam Prashad; Arun Singh; Vashisht Tiwari; Prem Chand Singh; Devas Singh. The Superintendent of Police (SP) Latehar, contacted on 3 March 2011 at 6 pm, gave assurances that he was making arrangements to arrest all these suspects.

10. “Sudarshan”, named in the FIR, is known in the area as a local Maoist “commander”. Whether he is a Maoist, or a member of a break-away Maoist faction, or a pseudo-Maoist, is yet to be ascertained. According to eye-witnesses, Bharat (another suspected Maoist) was present on 2 March when Niyamat was being beaten to death. The other persons named in the FIR, starting with Shankar Dubey, are notorious local contractors or their accomplices. Some of them, including Shankar Dubey and Arun Singh, are believed to enjoy the protection and patronage of local politicians or former politicians.

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Rankikala Scam (Manika Block, Latehar): for which niyamat was murdered

Summary

This is an exceptional case of blatant fraud where the then acting BDO of Manika, Shri Kailash Sahu, colluded with the Panchayat Sevak of Rankikala (Shri Basudev Nagesia) to embezzle NREGA funds by bypassing the entire record-keeping system. Briefly, the Panchayat Sevak (PS) prepared two fake “Payment Advices”, for which there are no corresponding Muster Rolls, Measurement Books, MIS entries or any other records (these Payment Advices are signed by the PS and BDO only. The BDO then signed a cheque for each Payment Advice and the money was siphoned off through Post Office accounts of the fake workers, in collusion with the Postmaster Rankikala, Shri Ashok Tiwari. The workers listed in these Payment Advices live far away from the concerned worksites, and deny having worked there or having received any of the money that was withdrawn in their name from the Post Office. Some of them (e.g. Sunil Mochi s/o Banaudhi Mochi, of Aholiya Tola in Rankikala Village, a bus khalasi who never worked on NREGA) did not even know that a Post Office account had been opened in their name!

These facts were initially established by the NREGA Sahayata Kendra Manika, and submitted to the Latehar District Collector, Shri Rahul Purwar, who directed the SDO Latehar to conduct a joint enquiry with members of the Sahayata Kendra on 21 February 2011. The SDO Latehar came to Manika that day, and examined the records available at the Block office, but refused to proceed to Rankikala to verify the Post Office records or talk to the workers listed in the fake Payment Advices (he was unable to give any valid reason for this and appeared to be under pressure to protect some of the culprits). The Sahayata Kendra team (including James Herenj, Jean Drèze and Niyamat Ansari) proceeded to Rankikala, took photographs of the Post Office records, and talked to some of the workers listed in the fake Payment Advices. The SDO Latehar came back the next day and was able to verify the facts for himself.

Further information, including details of the relevant documents, are given in the attached summary report prepared by James Herenj (coordinator, Sahayata Kendra Manika). Photocopies of these documents are available on request.

This is an extreme case of brazen embezzlement, violation of all the record-keeping rules, and “capture” of the Post Office by corrupt middlemen. Stern action is essential to stop the rot. An FIR should be lodged immediately against the main culprits: Kailash Sahu (former BDO, Manika) and Basudev Nagesia (Panchayat Sevak, Rankikala)

NIYAMAT ANSARI SPEAKS
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVExfJbU5ng
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMyojbriLDQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BcekBiTfsQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MHkcdPq4-E