Citizens shot, village terrorised in Latehar, Jharkhand – A Fact-Finding Report

August 27, 2010

Translated from Hindi by Poonam Srivastava, Sanhati

A fact-finding committee of ‘Citizens against Operation Green Hunt, Jharkhand’ visited Ladi village under block Barwadi of district Latehar of Jharkhand state, on 13th June 2010.

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Members of the fact-finding committee:

1. Stan Swami
2. Shashibhushan Pathak
3. Gladson Dungdung
4. Sunil Minz
5. Gopinath Ghosh
6. Damodar Turi
7. Rajeev Pandey
8. Iliyas Ansari
9. Subhash Gyali
10. Tirthraj Biruli
11. Mahadev Uranv

On 27th April 2010, an incident was reported in Ladi village where a woman from Kharwar tribe was shot dead and a cattleman was injured. The local police had claimed that the incident was a result of an encounter between the Maoists and the police. The fact-finding committee investigated the following points:

1. The real story behind the incident
2. Situation of the family after the incident
3. Police and administration’s attitude towards the incident.
4. Help provided by the government to the deceased’s family.
5. Legal action taken on the incident.

Description of the Victim’s family:

1. Jairam Singh, 28 years (M) Temporary Forest Guard, husband of the deceased
2. Amrita Kumari, 5 years (F), daughter of the deceased
3. Suchit Kumar, 3 years (M) son of the deceased
4. Vibha Kumari, 1 year (F), daughter of the deceased
5. Kamleshwar Singh, 48 years (M), temporary trekker guard, father-in-law of the deceased
6. Bajva Devi, 40 years (F), farmer, mother-in-law of the deceased
7. Sitaram Singh, 14 years (M), student, brother-in-law of the deceased
8. Baleshwar Singh, 12 years (M), student, brother-in-law of the deceased
9. Sarita Kumari, 10 years (F), student, Sister-in-law of the deceased
10. Champa Kumari, 8 years (F), student, Sister-in-law of the deceased

Click here for original Hindi report [PDF]

Introduction

Ladi village is situated about 60 kilometers from the district headquarter of Latehar and around 22 kilometers from the block headquarter of Barwadi in the middle of the forest. The post office and bank of the village are in Chipodahar, 2 and 15 kilometers away respectively. The majority population of the village is Kharwar. Out of the 83 families in the village, 58 are Kharwar, 2 are Oraon, 11 are Parahaiya, 10 are Korwa, 1 is Lohra and 1 is a Savar family. The population of this village is approximately 400. The economy of the village mainly depends on agriculture and forest produce, which solely depends on the monsoon. The other traditional occupation of the Kharwar tribe is stone cutting; a family earns an average of about Rs 60 per day from this.

There is a primary school in the village, where two teachers have been appointed, but most of the time the school remains closed and students do not get midday meals regularly. This village is still deprived of basic amenities like roads, electricity, drinking water and basic health care facilities. This village has 21 families from aboriginal tribe Parahaiya and Korwa. There are special government schemes for these tribes. The Supreme Court had ordered implementation of Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) for these tribes, however these orders are openly violated in Jharkhand. People of Ladi village have not been benefited by the Government’s poverty eradication schemes (Garibi Unmoolan Yojna).

Description of the Incident

In 2006 Prime Minster Mr. Manmohan Singh had declared Maoism as the gravest internal security threat to the nation and biggest challenge for capital investment. The 92,000 square kilometer area inhibited mostly by the indigenous population was recognized as the Red Corridor. Subsequently, in the name of eliminating Maoists, a special police operation named ‘Operation Green Hunt’ was launched. This operation could not take off in Jharkhand due to strong resistance. But finally on March 5th 2010, Operation Green Hunt was systematically started in Singhbhoom region of the state.

During this time Operation Green Hunt started in Latehar district too.

On 27th April 2010 some policemen entered into Ladi village of block Brawadi after an encounter between the Maoists and the Police. It was around 7:30 in the evening and the villagers were getting ready for sleep when they heard the gunshots. After sometime the police surrounded the Gram Pradhan (village head) Mr. Kamleshwar Singh’s house. The police then started yelling and shouting that they would burn down the house if people did not come out. The family members of Kamleshwar Singh panicked and came out of the house. Kamleshwar Singh and his son Mr. Jairam Singh are temporary employees in the Forest Department and were not in the house at that time. After hearing the shouts of the police, the younger son of Kamleshwar Singh, Vishram Singh (18), opened the door and came out of the house. The police tied both his hands behind his back and pointed a gun at him.

After that, the police asked Vishram Singh’s sister-in-law, Jasinta Devi, about the presence of other people in the house. She told them about one cattleman Puran Singh (62) sleeping inside the house. The police asked her to bring him outside. When Jasinta Devi was getting the cattleman outside, the police opened fire at her. A bullet hit her on her chest and she died on the spot. The police fired again, this time a bullet hit Puran Singh injuring his arms. When family members started to cry on seeing the dead body, the police threatened to shoot them if they did not keep quiet. The police also told them that they feed the Maoists.

After the incident the police took away the dead body of Jasinta Devi and injured Pooran Singh along with other family members. They also forced them to tell everyone that Jasinta Devi had died in an encounter and threatened them with dire consequences if they organized any rally protesting the incident.

Villagers did not know where the body was taken. That is why they jammed the Mahuatand-Daltonganj main road on 28th April 2010. After the postmortem of the dead body, the police asked Vishram Singh to sign on a plain paper and gave the body to the relatives for last rites. Vishram Singh hired a vehicle for Rs 4000 to get the dead body to the village. Under family welfare scheme, the family received Rs 10 thousand from CEO Barwadi.

The relatives of the deceased went to Barwadi police station to file a complaint against the murder of Jasinta Devi but the station officer Ratanlal Saha did not lodge the complaint. He just wrote down the information in a diary, threatened them and sent them back.

The Administration had agreed to pay a compensation of Rs 3 lakhs to the family after the protests from the villagers. Police used a local journalist Manoj Vishwakarma (Hindustan) as an interlocutor for this work. On 14th May, Manoj Vishwkarma came to the Barwadi police station with the deceased’s husband Jairam Singh. Station Officer Virendra Ram asked Jairam Singh to sign on plain paper and take Rs 90 thousand cheque. When Jairam Singh refused to sign on plain paper, station officer refused to give him any compensation amount and sent him back.

After the cold-blooded murder of Jasinta Devi, her husband has to take care of their kids all on his own apart from earning a living. His three little kids Amrita Kumari (5), Suchit Kumar (3) and Vibha Kumari (1) have lost their childhood and now there is a big question mark on their future too.

Facts Found

1. After carefully examining the deceased’s house, it becomes clear that there is just one entrance door to the house. Inside the house, there are two gunshots on the wall, which were fired from the entrance door. If it had been a case of encounter, there would have been firing towards the entrance from inside the house too. After killing Jasinta Devi, police entered inside and raided the house. In that case if the Maoists had been hiding inside, police would have caught them. Since there is no other door in the house, the possibility of their escape is highly unlikely. After examining the spot, talking to the relatives, the cattleman, and the villagers, it becomes clear that Jasinta Devi was shot and killed by the police and there was no encounter.

2. The police is trying to cover-up this incident as an encounter and that is why they did not register the case lodged by the family members of Jasinta Devi. At the same time relatives of the deceased receive continuous threats from the police.

3. Administration had agreed to give Rs 3 lakh, but when the husband of the deceased went to collect the compensation, he was asked to sign on a blank paper. He was also asked to take just 90 thousand rupees. It simply means that Barwadi police wants to usurp the compensation money.

4. All the villagers of the Ladi village are horrified after this incident because police comes to the village anytime and harasses them. And also whenever villagers go to the market, the police there harass them.

5. The cattleman of Kamleshwar Singh, Pooran Singh has become invalid due to the shooting and he is undergoing treatment in the civil hospital of Latehar. He has been kept under the surveillance of armed policemen. The civil surgeon of Latehar was not even aware of the incidents leading to Pooran Sing’s injury.

Recommendations

1. There should be a high level judicial inquiry of this incident
2. A case should be filed against the policemen who are involved in this killing and they should be punished accordingly.
3. Legal action should be taken against the station officer who refused to lodge the complaint.
4. A case should be filed against the Police officers who tried to usurp the compensation money.
5. The D.S.P who tried to cover up the case, then station officer Ratanlal Saha and current station officer Virendra Ram should be suspended and legal actions should be taken against them.
6. The relatives of the deceased should receive Rs 10 lakh compensation money, government jobs and free education for their kids. Injured cattleman Pooran Singh should also receive compensation money of 5 lakhs.
7. Security should be provided to the deceased family members.
8. Provide basic amenities to the village.
9. The harassment of villagers by the police should be stopped immediately.
10. This is not a single incident; there are several such incidents of police atrocities regularly reported in Jharkhand. If you want to stop these incidents then halt Operation Green Hunt immediately.

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