Jharkhand Human Rights Violations Report

August 1, 2016

jharkhand

Report from Jharkhand State towards The Universal Periodic Review of UN Human Rights Council.

One-day consultation on 29th July 2016 at Bagaicha, Ranchi, Jharkhand, with the participation of 12 human rights activists representing eight organizations [Dalit Adivasi Jagriti Sansthan, Land Rights Campaign, AIKMKS-CPI (ML),Vistapan Virodhi Janvikas Andolan,Jharkhand Nagrik prayas,Adivasi Women’s Network,Persecuted Prisoners Solidarity Committee,Bagaicha ]

Co-ordinator of the Programme: Stan Swamy

Jharkhand, truly a ‘Police State’

Jharkhand, a land inhabited by Indigenous Adivasi People, rich in minerals and natural resources …so far local companies have been exploiting the resources and displacing people without rehabilitating them… now national & multinational companies are being red-carpeted to come and invest… an economically self-sustaining agrarian community is being converted to a landless casual labour class, forced to live in urban shanties and reduced to the point of destitution… those from among them who question this exploitative process and lead resistance movements are labeled ‘naxals’ / ‘maoists’ and are thrown into jails…those from the rest of the civil society (intellectuals, writers, journalists, legal professionals, human rights activists) who express solidarity with people’s struggles are dubbed as ‘naxal/maoist-sympathisers’ and are held as ‘suspects’ … even those not dubbed as naxals but are part of specific resistance movements are jailed on trumped-up charges… Jharkhand State, in short, is a veritable ‘Police State’.

Forcibly displaced without consent and without rehabilitation:

The fundamental question is why Adivasis do not want to give their land for the so-called ‘development projects’. The instant answer can be found in the history of pains and sufferings of the displaced people, which suggests that after the independence, 17,10,787 people were displaced while acquiring 24,15,698 acres of their lands for setting up the Power Plants, Irrigation Projects, Mining Companies, Steel Industries and other development projects in Jharkhand. In every project approximately 80 to 90% of those affected are Adivasis and local people. Sadly a mere 25 % of them have been rehabilitated partially and no one has any idea about the rest 75 % displaced people. The benefits of these development projects are enjoyed by the Landlords, Project Officers, Engineers, Contractors, Bureaucrats, Politicians and outsiders, while those who sacrificed everything for the sake of the “development” are struggling for survival. If this process of indiscriminate displacement continues unabated the indigenous people may lose their very identity which is closely linked to their land.

‘Public Hearing’, neither public nor a hearing:

This is a legal requirement through which the to-be-affected people are informed about the project requiring their land and getting their consent (70% for Public Sector and 80% for Private Sector projects). In most cases they are manipulated:

– the contractors and company people assemble early, occupy the bulk of the venue, leaving the affected people standing around the edges or outside;

– the company people are given the mike first and speak strongly in favour, and go on and on promising benefits. There is no two way discussion. When local people want to speak, it is late, they are cut off, the whole PH is brought to a quick conclusion;

– we have seen a short distance away, country liquor was set and being sold at a cheap price, attracting the locals;

– a disturbing fact is that instead of being a neutral judge, the Pollution Control Board is openly in support of the Company. This is the same with govt, it sets itself up as sponsor of the Company, even to the point of police intervention in their favour.

– in instances where affected people are already made aware, they have stormed the venue in big numbers and asserted their decision not to give their land to the project, the meeting was called off, but subsequently the police filed cases against the leading members.

Forced migration and trafficking:

-Migration of young Adivasi women to metropolitan cities. The reason is that there is nothing in the house or village to occupy these women in a profitable meaningful way. After the mono-crop paddy is harvested in their tiny plots of land they find it will last only for a few months. So instead of sitting at home idling and starving it is better to go to a town or city and work as house-keepers in urban middle-class families. They are not aware of the risks, dangers involved. They get in touch with some middle-men/women and take off often without even informing and getting the consent of their parents. They land up in metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai completely at the disposal of placement-agencies and have no choice of future employers, type of work, wages, living conditions etc. Their number is estimated to be around three-to-four lakhs.

-Seasonal migration of whole families to northern states. June to December is the monsoon-fed agricultural season. As the food produced is insufficient to feed the family for the whole year and there is no possibility of a second crop because of lack of irrigation, hundreds of Jharkhandi families leave their hearths and homes temporarily during January to May. Only some elderly members are left to attend to the cattle. The govt neatly ignores this annual tragedy.

– Recent exodus of Adivasi youth to the Southern States as casual/contract labour. Thousands of them are in the states of Karnataka, Tamilnadu (mostly in construction work in cities) and Kerala (in cities as well as in farms and plantations). They go there either through contacts with persons who are already there or they are taken in batches by contractors/middle-men. In short it is a story of the poor making the rich to live more comfortably.

How explain this new phenomenon? There are two main reasons:

(i) Deepening poverty : while the Indian economy is said to be growing at the fastest rate, poverty is deepening in the Adivasi belt of central India. Blessed by nature with rich mineral wealth has now become a curse to them. The Indian State, controlled and directed by the Corporate Sector, has decided to excavate the minerals at all costs. The protective constitutional provisions, laws, judicial verdicts meant to protect the Adivasi have been thrown to the winds. Meager cash compensation for their land is thrown at them and they are forced to vacate their hearths and homes. Hence the younger generation looks elsewhere to survive, and the sourthern States seem to offer limited chances in terms of casual/contract labour.

(ii) Increasing State repression: However, the Adivasi People are not taking this exploitative situation lying down. Resistance movements against the unjust, illegal, forcible acquisition of their jal, jangal, jamin have found an echo among people at large and some umbrella organizations vs displacement have played a significant role in turning away most companies empty handed. This includes industrial giants like Mittal, Vedanta, Posco. This people’s resistance has been enhanced by Maoist/Naxal presence and very many Adivasi youth have joined these forces. Therefore state repression is increasing to the extent that a small state like Jharkhand has thousands of men & women in its prisons accused as Maoists/Naxals. Any young man/woman in naxal-affected areas can be labeled a maoist/naxal and can be thrown into jails. At the same time, the laws which are in favour of the Adivasi/ Moolvasi, such as The Panchayats (extension to Scheduled Areas) 1996, The Forest Rights of Scheduled Castes and other traditional forest dwellers Act, 2006, are not implemented. So the principle seems to be “starve them, shoot them and finish them”! This precarious situation makes lot of these young men to get away from this situation of insecurity at least for a while and try and earn something for the family. So they are going South like a wave.

Functioning of the State in the guise of tackling ‘Left Wing Extremism’

Egalitarian traditions of the indigenous people being destroyed: Jharkhand is witness to a number of resistance struggles of the people, and movements aimed at bringing about changes in the state of affairs, both through reforms and through radical means. Some of these struggles and movements may be of the spontaneous variety, others organized with a definite political and ideological orientation.

Some may view themselves as a defense of the precious, egalitarian traditions of the indigenous people, while others may prefer to forge broad alliances in class terms to break the existing structures. Some may adhere to the democratic norms defined by the constitutional frame-work, but others may attempt to redefine democracy beyond the horizons of the statutes. Some may be financed institutionally, others by adopting an array of self-generating schemes. The common problem before many of these struggles and movements today is that as the scramble of the state-sponsored corporate forces for the natural resources of Jharkhand has intensified more than ever over the last decade, the state, shedding all pretensions, has come out to confront many of them with an increasingly heavy hand and intolerant bent.

Basic questions related to the life and livelihood, and the dignity and survival of the oppressed majority have been completely overshadowed by the pre-eminent question of law and order that, incidentally, also catches the imagination of the rising middle classes.

Dissipation of day-to-day life by deploying police and paramilitary forces: the policing tasks of the state have diversified, multiplied and magnified manifold, and the increasing deployment of the paramilitary has drastically dented the reign of peace and tranquility, while the space for independent avenues within the judiciary, the media, and human rights agencies have shrunk enormously.

As a result, what we commonly come across in different parts of the state are allegations about: an infusion of central and state police/paramilitary camps and pickets along the major road routes and rural connecting roads, right into the tranquil countryside; an alien and repressive intervention and intrusion of the state forces into the daily lives of the impoverished and increasingly distressed rural folk; forcible occupation by the counter-insurgency forces of public premises, including schools (which has reportedly been withdrawn, but not before a PIL was filed in the High Court this regard); targeting of non-combatant peasants during patrolling, combing and combat operations in the name of curbing left wing extremism, through verbal, physical and sexual abuse; intimidation; beatings; illegal detention, torture in custody, plunder of livestock and other meager means; destroying huts, crops and rations, etc.; setting fire to forests, reducing both flora and fauna to ashes; poisoning streams and other sources of drinking water likely to be used unsuspectingly, especially during the hottest peak of summer; extra-judicial killings (fake encounters) of cadres and supporters of radical outfits; murder of innocents; abduction of wandering children, producing them before a pliant media as rescued from militant’s camps, and confining them to some remand home under the custody of so-called child welfare committees;

Vigilante groups being sponsored to create fissures, divisions and conflicts between one section of the local community and the other, both in the name of peace-maintaining civic bodies as well as armed squads thriving on extortion, such as TPC, PPC, JJMP, JLT, PLFI, etc. constituted from among self-seeking social rebels, anti-social elements, and militants who would have reneged and surrendered, meaning deserted and defected to the opposite side, many of whom may be found functioning as state-sponsored touts to facilitate the field operations of companies engaged in the construction, mining and power sector; arrests in hundreds and thousands in false cases, often with multiple cases foisted serially after long intervals; prolonged detention of social activists and ordinary peasants mostly from the indigenous communities under draconian laws like Section 17 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1908; Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1967 as amended at least thrice since 2004; proscribing dissenting organizations, their literature and their social or political activities of every kind; using the vice-like grip of a criminal justice system, already biased against the poor, to isolate and demoralize the recalcitrant among the indigenous communities, and so on. The impunity and immunity from the rule of law enjoyed by the state’s police and paramilitary forces knows no bounds.

Conclusion:

It is our considered opinion that no meaningful remedy to the present system is possible given the overall dominance, control of corporate houses over the Indian State. The only solution then is empowerment of people at the bottom of society through people’s movements and struggles with Gram Sabha as the ultimate authority.

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