Statement Against Arrest of Jharkhand PUCL Activist Santosh Yadav

January 5, 2013

We are deeply shocked at the arrest of Sh. Santosh Yadav, a PUCL activist of Palamau District of Jharkhand, by Bihar Police and subsequently handing him over to Jharkhand Police, in a case registered in the year 2001. He had gone to village Dhangaon in Bihar to attend the last rites of a distant relative, whom police alleged to be the maternal grand-mother of a Maoist. It is pertinent to mention here that all other accused in the case slapped against Santosh Yadav have already been tried and acquitted. The complainant in this case appeared before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, and stated that he has got nothing against Santosh Yadav and does not want to pursue the case against him. But the police insisted on trying him.

Actually the Jharkhand Police and the vigilante groups formed by it are inimical towards Santosh Yadav for his role as a defender of human rights of the people. He has been in the forefront in the fight against police excesses, such as encounter killings, custodial deaths, false implication in criminal cases, attacks on democratic & struggling people, and expropriation of Jharkhand’s natural wealth by big Indian & foreign companies in Palamau and adjoining districts of Bihar. He has been an active and important member of various Fact Finding teams constituted by Coordination of Democratic Rights Organizations, which went to Jharkhand to probe and document, human rights violations by para-military forces.

In one of its recent visits, the CDRO Fact Finding Team has documented one case where one poor farmer Rajinder Yadav was arrested by Daltonganj police on 1st January 2010. He was brutally tortured at first in Police Station and thereafter at the residence of the then SP Sh. Jatin Narwal, resulting in his death. The police, in order to suppress its crime wanted to dispose of the body of the deceased after obtaining a false post-mortem report from a panel of doctors of Civil Hospital Daltonganj, claiming that there was no external injury or sign of torture on the deceased’s body. But the local unit of PUCL, with the support of a large number of democratic people foiled this attempt by organizing protest action, demanding re-postmortem at Ranchi Medical College and registration of FIR. Santosh Yadav as a leading member of the PUCL played a very active role in this movement. Ultimately the police was forced to get re-postmortem done at Ranchi Medical College, in which 12 external injuries were found on the deceased’s body as tell-tale signs of torture by the police. An FIR was also registered in the case. Subsequently, a two-member high powered committee, appointed by Jharkhand Govt, confirmed the killing of Rajinder Yadav in police custody by inflicting torture, and attempt to destroy evidence through complicity of doctors, indicting SP Jatin Narwal and other police officials and the doctors.

Similarly in another case, the trigger happy Jharkhand Police fired upon a four-wheeler in Sultani Ghati area, in Palamau District, on 16th January 2012, killing its driver Davinder Yadav and injuring its owner Ajit Singh. The local unit of the PUCL demanded registration of criminal case against the police officials responsible for it and struggled for it, facing stiff opposition & threats from the police and a vigilante group known as TPC (Tritiye Prastuti Committee). Fearing for their lives and liberty, Santosh Yadav and some other activists, who played leading role in this agitation filed petitions in local courts as well as in Jharkhand High Court.

It has been the modus operendi of Jharkhand, Bihar and the police forces of other States, where Operation Green Hunt is underway, to register cases of false encounters, wherein along with some known Maoists, an unspecified number of unknown persons are shown to have been involved. Afterwards, anyone inimical to the police, ruling party politicians or the vigilante groups is implicated, in such cases. We fear that Jharkhand Police may falsely implicate Santosh Yadav also in more such cases.

We call upon the Chief Ministers of Bihar & Jharkhand to unconditionally release Santosh Yadav by dropping all criminal proceedings against him and roll-back the policy of letting loose repression on the people struggling to protect their lives and livelihood, which are being threatened by the anti-people and anti-national economic policies of the rulers. The Govt must stop killing of the people in false encounters and custodial torture; false implication in criminal cases; attacks on defenders of democratic rights and propping up vigilante armed groups under various names.

1. Dr. Parminder Singh, Convener, Democratic Front Against Operation Green Hunt, Punjab, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar.
2. Prof. A.K.Maleri Ludhiana
3. Advocate Balwant Singh Dhillon, President Lawyers for Human Rights & Justice, Bathinda
4. Jagmel Singh, General Secretary, Lok Morcha Punjab, Bathinda
5. Gurdial Singh Bhangal, President, Lok Morcha, Punjab
6. Kanwaljeet Khanna, President, Inqlabi Kender, Punjab
7. Balwant Makhu, President Lok Sangram Manch Punjab
8. Advocate N.K.Jeet, Bathinda
9. Advocate Sudeep Singh, Bathinda
10. Advocate Rajneesh K. Rana, Bathinda
11. Amolak Singh, President Lok Sabhyachar Manch, Punjab
12. Attarjeet Singh, Story writer, Bathinda
13. Karora Singh Ex-Circle President, Technical Services Union (PSEB) Bathinda