Jharkhand – Sanhati statement on the detention of Aparna Marandi, her infant son and other activists

December 12, 2012

We strongly condemn the blatantly illegal action of the Jharkhand police in secretly detaining Aparna Marandi, wife of jailed cultural activist Jeeten Marandi, with her infant son and two other people and keeping them in custody for more than 24 hours before producing Aparna Marandi in court and charging her with a false case. It is of extremely grave concern to us that the Jharkhand government is violating all democratic rights of citizens, and constitutional norms which it is bound to uphold, to target innocent people whom it considers as threats to the continuing anti-people activities of the government.

On 8th December, 2012, Aparna Marandi, accompanied by her infant son Alok, Baby Turi (an elected local government representative and wife of another anti-displacement activist Damodar), Sushil Ekka (a social activist), and Satish Marandi (Jeeten Marandi’s nephew), were waiting to catch a train en route to a meeting in Hyderabad to attend a national meeting against draconian laws. As they were waiting at the Hatia railway station near Ranchi, they were picked up by plainclothes policemen, and piled into an unmarked car before being taken to an unknown destination. Baby Turi was just able to contact her husband Damodar and provide this information before her cell phone was snatched away. Thereafter, for more than 24 hours, the police denied any knowledge of them, and only produced Aparna Marandi in court on 10th December after a hue and cry was raised and a habeas corpus petition was about to be filed. Aparna was charged with a false case accusing her of involvement in an incident in Dumka three years ago, and sent to the Dumka jail together with her infant son.

The blatant violation of all legal norms by the Jharkhand police in this case has generated grave concern and is a pointer to the larger climate of human rights violation and state terror in Jharkhand today. Every single legal norm relating to arrested persons, as laid down by the Supreme Court judgement in the D K Basu case, has been violated by the Jharkhand government. The police denied arresting these persons and did not produce them in court for more than 24 hours, which violates well established constitutional and legal provisions. They did not inform the next of kin about the detention, and did not allow the detainees any access to legal help. Moreover, detention of a minor, in this case the four year old son of Aparna and Jeeten Marandi, completely violates all legal norms and human rights. These violations are indicative of the desperation of the Jharkhand state to silence and suppress all voices of dissent and the ongoing peoples’ struggles against land acquisition by corporations and state repression. The arrest and continuing imprisonment of Dayamani Barla, another fighter against land acquisition by corporations in Jharkhand, is another pointer to this situation.

We condemn in the strongest terms these undemocratic and illegal actions by the Jharkhand state government and demand that the government follow constitutional provisions which it claims to uphold and takes steps to identify and penalize the police officers who have indulged in these illegal actions. We also hope that the judiciary will take cognizance of the situation and will take proactive steps to ensure that constitutional norms are not violated in Jharkhand. We also demand that the false case against Aparna Marandi be withdrawn immediately and she and her infant son be released. In this regard, we also demand that other activists such as Dayamani Barla and Jeeten Marandi who are languishing in various jails in Jharkhand be released and the false cases against them be withdrawn. These actions by the Jharkhand government expose the current situation of state repression and democratic rights violation in Jharkhand to the entire world and it is the Jharkhand state government which bears the responsibility to take immediate steps to remedy the situation.

Also read -
1. A report on People’s Convention for the release of Jeetan Marandi
2. Jiten Marandi – The Fate of an Openly Political Cultural Activist