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  • Jharkhand

    1. Overview. 1
    2. Human rights violations by the security forces 2
    3. Violations of international humanitarian laws by the AOGs 3
    4. Violence against women. 4
    a. Sexual violence. 4
    b. Cultural cruelties: witch-hunting. 4
    5. Violations of the rights of the indigenous peoples 5
    6. Violations of the rights of the child. 6
    7. Violations of the prisoners' rights 7
    8. Status of the Internally Displaced Persons 7


     

    1. Overview

    Ruled by Bharatiya Janata Party-led Arjun Munda government, Jharkhand witnessed serious violations of international humanitarian laws both by the law enforcement personnel and the Naxalites during 2005. The Maoists problem continued to plague the state of Jharkhand with the guerrillas reportedly being active in 16 of the 22 districts. More than 500 people were killed in the State in the last four years in the Naxalite conflict.[1] In a glaring example of violation of the right to life by the Naxalites, at least 15 villagers were killed and six others injured during an attack by alleged Naxalites at Bhelbadari village under Deuri police station in Giridih district on the night of 11 September 2005.[2]

    The Adivasis, indigenous peoples, of Jharkhand continued to be victims of development projects and land alienation. Jharkhand Government had signed over 42 Memorandum of Understandings (MoU) with investors including Mittal Steel, Tata Steel, Jindal Steel and Power Company Limited since Jharkhand became a state in 2000.  These projects could displace large number of Adivasis.[3] But the government failed to rehabilitate even those displaced between 1951 and 1991, nearly half of whom were tribals.[4]

    In many parts of rural Jharkhand, a large chunk of tribal population did not have access to health care and still depended on Ojhas (exorcists).[5]

    Many tribals also suffered from starvation. On 16 September 2005, one Samal Lohra of Tilaipidi village in the Bundu block under Ranchi district in Jharkhand reportedly died of starvation. Despite repeated appeals by the deceased's son, the administration instructed the local Public Distribution System vendor to give 10 kg rice to the family only after the death of the deceased.[6]

    The conditions of women and children were deplorable. While women were killed and tortured for practicing witchcraft, the conditions of child labourers in the tribal belt of Jharkhand continued to be grim.[7]

    The prisons were overcrowded with the Jaiprakash Narayan Central Jail having 3,445 inmates against its actual capacity of 1,130 prisoners[8] and Birsa Munda jail housing 3,000 convicts against its capacity of 605 by the end of 2005.[9]

    The juvenile homes also remained overcrowded. The Human Rights Committee formed by the Jharkhand High Court found the living condition of inmates of the Deoghar Remand Home for girls as “extremely deplorable and inhuman”.[10]

    Violence against the Dalits continued to show its ugly head with the killing of four members of a Dalit family who were shot dead at Saidpur village under Kako police station area in Jehanabad Assembly constituency on the night of 6 February 2005 allegedly for exercising their franchise in the first phase of the State assembly elections on 3 February 2005.[11]

    2. Human rights violations by the security forces

    The security forces were responsible for human rights violations including arbitrary deprivation of the right to life. The NHRC reported 5 deaths in police custody and one death in encounter in Jharkhand during 2004-2005.[12] The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) of the Government of India failed to record any case of death in police custody in the state during 2005.[13] On 16 November 2005, Ali Hussain died in the custody of Palajori police station in Deogarh district after being arrested from Matiara village on the previous night. The police claimed that he committed suicide by using his shirt to hang himself from the ceiling at the custody.[14] 

    In April 2005, the Human Rights Committee established by Jharkhand High Court ruled on 33 different cases of human rights violations perpetrated by the police, including the alleged custodial death of Kuldeep Singh Chero, a Scheduled Caste, in the Manatu police station in 2003. According to the petition filed before the Human Rights Committee by the Adivasi Uthan Kendra, Chero was brutally tortured in the police station after he was arrested from his house on 21 November 2003. The petitioner alleged that the police had tried to hush up the matter. Taking cognizance of the complaint, the Committee directed Palamau Superintendent of Police to conduct a proper investigation in the alleged custodial death of Kuldeep Singh Chero.[15]

    On 19 May 2005, 19-year-old Pintu Singh, a college student in Hazaribagh, was reportedly shot dead by constable Manu Yadav at Chouparan in Hazaribagh district. According to relatives of the deceased, Pintu and his friends decided to visit a hotel on the highway to drink in the night of 18 May 2005. While returning they had an altercation with a bus driver. The bus driver mistook them as robbers and informed the police. Following which officer-in-charge Radheyshyam Das and constable Manu Yadav chased Pintu inside a hotel and shot him dead although he was visibly unarmed. Later the police reportedly admitted that the deceased was innocent.[16]

    The police high-handedness came to the fore in the case of Mohammed Israfil, a ‘government witness' in a case (216/2003) related to the Dumaria police station. On 28 April 2005, Mohammed Israfil and his family members were roughed up by the police in Dumaria police station area under Ghatshila subdivision in East Singhbhum district. According to Israfil, the police led by officer-in-charge of Dumaria police station Bhola Nath Singh stormed into their house at 5 am on 28 April 2005. When such behavior of the police was objected, the police personnel manhandled the family members, including Israfil's wife. Israfil was dragged from his house and produced before the court of Ghtashila sub-judicial magistrate handcuffed. It was only in the court that Israfil came to know that he had been made a government witness. Israfil had not been served court's summon by the officials of the local police station, despite his residence being only 30 feet away from the Dumaria police station.[17]

    3. Violations of international humanitarian laws by the AOGs

    Jharkhand faced a serious problem of Maoists violence with the  guerrillas active in 16 of the 22 districts. More than 500 people had been killed in the Naxalite conflict in the State in the last four years.[18]

    The Maoists killed at least one legislator and one panchayat secretary in 2005. Three suspected Maoists allegedly killed Mahendra Prasad Singh, Communist Party of India-Marxist Leninist (CPI-ML) legislator from Bagodar while he was talking to some physically challenged persons at Durgi Dhowaiya village in Giridih district on 16 January 2005.[19]  A panchayat secretary was killed and three others were injured when alleged Maoists opened fire at the Kanker Collector SK Raju's carcade while they were returning from Koileebara on 11 November 2005.[20]

    Others who were killed by the Maoists during 2005 included six police personnel and a driver who were killed in a bomb blast by suspected Communist Party of India (Maoist) rebels on 3 February 2005 while enforcing the Assembly polls boycott at Maraiya Bhalai village under Chattarpur police station limits in Palamau district,[21] a constable on 7 February 2005 who was killed in an alleged Maoist-triggered landmine blast at Manatu area of Palamau district,[22] two villagers identified as Hazibullah and Mohammad Quasim by alleged Maoists during a raid at Tarwadih village in Latehar on the night of 18 May 2005,[23] killing of 15 villagers and injuries to six others during an attack by alleged Naxalites at Bhelbadari village under Deuri police station in Giridih district in the late night of 11 September 2005[24] and killing of a street vendor identified as Md Neyaz at Mohanpur on 11 November 2005.[25]

    The Maoists also continued to deliver Kangaroo justice through their “Peoples' Court”, Jana Adalat. On 23 July 2005, Maoists reportedly killed one John Hembrom, chopped off the hands of two other persons and an ear of another, all of them hailing from different villages in Giridih district, following their convictions in the Jana Adalat conducted by the Maoists somewhere in the adjoining Jamui district in Bihar.[26]

    4. Violence against women

    The NCRB recorded 2,544 cases of violence against women in the state during 2005, including 753 rape cases, 293 molestation cases, 283 kidnapping cases and 257 dowry deaths.[27]

    a. Sexual violence 

    Women continued to be victims of sexual abuses in Jharkhand.

    On 26 March 2005, Abinash Gurung and Rakesh Viswakarma of the Jharkhand Armed Police while undergoing a refresher course at the Traffic Training Institute in Burmamines reportedly went to a Harijan (Dalit) basti in plain cloths and picked up a teenaged girl and tried to rape her at a nearby vacant room during the middle of Holi festivities in Jamshedpur. The girl was rescued by the neighbours and the soldiers were arrested.[28]

    On 13 September 2005, a 19-year-old young woman was allegedly gang raped by seven persons, including three Railway Protection Force personnel, a train ticket examiner Mr DN Upadhyay and three catering unit staff Md Aslam, Md Zafar and Md Nayem inside a first-class compartment of the Howrah-bound Toofan Express between Kiul and Madhupur Junctions in Jharkhand. A complaint of rape was lodged with the Madhupur Government Railway Police under Section 376G of the IPC.[29]

    Eloping with tribal girl could invite the wrath of the village panchayat. On 12 April 2005, a 50-year-old woman was reportedly paraded naked at Baski village under Mandar police station limits on the outskirts of Ranchi after her son eloped with a tribal girl. Failing to track the eloped pair, the village Panchayat was convened, wherein the village elders decided to “punish” the woman for her son's conduct.[30] 30 persons were arrested in this connection by the police on 14 April 2005.[31]

    b. Cultural cruelties: witch-hunting

    Women in Jharkhand continued to be targeted as “witches”. Many of the alleged witches were meted out inhuman and degrading treatment. In early August 2005, 70-year-old woman Batti Devi was reportedly beaten up and forced to eat human excreta by a father-son duo after being branded a witch at her home in Chaibasa.[32] In another incident on 19 November 2005, a septuagenarian woman identified as Panchami Devi was dragged out of her house on the suspicion of being a witch, beaten up and forced to eat human excreta in front of the public at Jhopapatti village in Dhanbad district of Jharkhand. A villager accused Panchami Devi of killing his son by using black magic. The police arrested two villagers identified as Kartik and Sanjay Sao.[33]

    Many of the victims were murdered. On 8 August 2005, a woman identified as Salge Hembram was allegedly hacked to death with an axe in front of her son Jayaram by the villagers for unable to pay the fine of Rs 10,000 imposed on her on the charges of practicing witchcraft on one Vikram in Ranikunder village in Jamshedpur. The villagers reportedly burnt her body to wipe out any evidence despite pleading by her son for his mother's body to perform the last rites.[34]

    Sometimes even men were targeted as witches. On 12 January 2005, a tantrik (occult practitioner) identified as Silbanis Toppo was hacked to death by villagers at Turbunga village under Raidih police station limits of Gumla district. The villagers accused him of killing an eight-year-old boy as part of a sacrificial ritual.[35]

    5. Violations of the rights of the indigenous peoples

    The National Crime Records Bureau recorded 483 cases of atrocities against the tribals in the state, which amounted to 8.5% of all the crimes against the tribals in India during 2005. By the end of 2005, 291 cases of atrocities against the tribals were pending investigation by the police and 442 cases were pending trial by the court. The rate of conviction for the crimes against the tribals in the state during 2005 was only 22.9%[36]

    According to the 2001 Census report, the tribal population in Jharkhand has declined by 12 per cent in the last seven decades from 38.20% in 1931 census to 26.30% in 2001 census.[37] There were at least nine vulnerable tribes who were on the verge of extinction. The population of these tribes, which include Birhor, Ho, Savar, Kharia Sauria, Paharia, Birajia, Korba, Asur and Bal Paharia, was stated to be less than 10,000.[38]

    The literacy rate among the nearly extinct tribals was also less than 10 per cent. In December 2005, the Jharkhand government issued a notification to induct members of the most primitive tribes directly in government jobs. Under the policy, graduates from the primitive tribes would not have to go through fresh examination to get jobs.[39]

    The tribals were victims of “development projects”. A study by People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), a human rights organisation, showed that over 74 lakh tribals were displaced in Jharkhand by different projects between 1950 and 1990. Only 18.45 lakhs were rehabilitated and the rest, 56.26 lakhs — over two-thirds of the displaced — have been left to fend for themselves. According to the report, industries had displaced 2.60 lakh tribals while different animal sanctuaries had forced about 5 lakh tribals to leave their homes.[40]

    The tribals were also victims of land alienation through transfer of land to non-tribals in violation of the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act. The most popular method was by marrying tribal girls, buying tribal land in their names and acquiring the land by the non-tribals after dumping their tribal wives. In 2005, the government of Jharkhand identified 1,500 tribals in Ranchi who had lost their land to outsiders and decided to give back physical possession of their land under an action plan drawn up by the land revenue department.[41]

    The tribals were also victimised under various forest laws. They faced forcible evictions, harassment and imprisonment by the police and the forest officials. On 8 June 2005, the timber mafia in alleged connivance with the forest officials attacked and burnt the houses of Agaria tribe at Kumba Kurd village under Nagar Untari police station limits of Garhwa district in Jharkhand after the tribals opposed the activities of the timber mafia. One eight-month-old baby was reportedly burnt alive and 140 huts of the Agaria tribe were burnt to ashes. A case was lodged with Nagar Untari police station against 23 persons including 13 forest officials. On the other hand, the forest department lodged an FIR against the Agaria tribals on the basis of which the police swiftly arrested eight Agaria tribal villagers. But the police refused to take action against the accused forest officials.[42]

    6. Violations of the rights of the child

    The National Crime Records Bureau recorded 97 cases of crimes against children in the state including 33 murder cases, 22 rape cases and 11 kidnapping cases.[43]

    On the night of 1 November 2005, a 10-year old boy identified as Ravi alias Chhotu of Gandhi Nagar in Dhanbad, Jharkhand, reportedly sustained bullet injury on his thigh after the drunk bodyguard of the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Dhanbad opened fire at him.[44]

    Adivasi children continued to be disproportionate victims of discrimination and violence.  According to a report compiled by a social organisation called AID, an estimated 18,000 children were involved in mica mining in two districts of Koderma and Giridih in Jharkhand. Employing children in illegal mica mining by organized groups was commonplace. The impact of mica mining has been glaring on their health. Children go 20 feet below the ground, mostly in loose soil in search for mica. Many reportedly died due to collapse of the ground soil. Diseases such as silicosis, asthma and bronchitis, T.B and malnutrition were common among the child labourers. They were paid a meagre wage anything between Rs 6 and Rs 8 per day for a minimum of 10 hours work.[45]

    The Adivasi girls were also easy target of sexual violence. On 22 October 2005, four tribal girls, aged between 14 and 16, were reportedly gang raped by eight persons at gunpoint repeatedly for two-and-a-half hours while returning in the evening from a factory after work at Paharabad in Dhanbad district. The medical tests confirmed rape. All the accused were arrested and sent to jail.[46] The victims were given Rs 25,000 each under the provisions of the Scheduled Castes/ Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.[47]

    The juvenile justice system remained highly inadequate. Proceeding in a Public Interest Litigation, in 15 July 2005 the division bench of the Jharkhand High Court comprising Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya directed the government to speed up the process of constituting the Juvenile Justice Boards to look after the welfare of juveniles lodged in the different remand homes of the state. The court also told the government to form the State Advisory Committee and Child Welfare Committee as provided in the Juvenile Justice Care and Protection Act, 2000.[48] On 25 August 2005, Juvenile Justice Board was formed to dispose of the cases and provide justice to the juveniles who have been languishing in seven districts—Ranchi, Deoghar, Dumka, Hazaribagh, Chaibasa, Jamshedpur and Dhanbad.[49]

    The conditions of the juveniles were deplorable. According to the Human Rights Committee formed by the Jharkhand High Court, the living condition of inmates of the Deoghar Remand Home for girls was “extremely deplorable and inhuman.” There were 85 juveniles against the sanctioned capacity of 50 as on May 2005 and they were provided only rice and jaggery as food.[50] There were at least 500 juveniles  languishing in observation homes in the state including 200 (190 males and 10 females) in Ranchi observation home and 153 (148 males and 5 females) in Jamshedpur as on September 2005.[51]

    7. Violations of the prisoners' rights

    The NHRC reported 66 deaths in judicial custody in the State during 2004-2005.[52]

    In India, the punishment with life imprisonment was still ambiguous with controversies as to whether the life sentence was for the entire life or only 14 years imprisonment. All the 3,445 prisoners in Jaiprakash Narayan Central Jail in Hazaribagh reportedly launched an indefinite fast from 15 April 2005, which was spearheaded by the 38 life-convicts who had already spent 20 years or more in jail.[53]

    The prisons were overcrowded with the Jaiprakash Narayan Central Jail having 3,445 inmates against its actual capacity of 1,130 prisoners[54] and Birsa Munda jail housing 3,000 convicts against its capacity of 605 by the end of 2005.[55]

    During 2005, at least six prisoners reportedly died in Birsa Munda Central Jail in the state capital Ranchi. Some of them died on their way to the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) allegedly due to inordinate delay in the process of shifting the patients. On 15 November 2005, Indira Munda died on her way to RIMS. On 25 December 2005, one Malua Oraon, suffering from multiple disorders, died while he was being taken to RIMS for treatment. On 20 December 2005, another patient identified as Shyam Oraon died from diarrhoea at RIMS. Earlier, Bheega Ghagrai had died in the jail hospital on 8 November 2005.[56]

    The jail hospital had only two doctors to look after 300-odd patients admitted there against a capacity of 100. According to a doctor of the jail hospital, some of the inmates “even have to stand and sleep” due to lack of space.[57]

    8. Status of the Internally Displaced Persons

    Mining remained the largest cause for land alienation and displacement in Jharkhand. The Jharkhand Government signed over 42 MoUs with investors including Mittal Steel, Tata Steel, Jindal Steel and Power Company Limited worth about Rs 1,69,198.26 crores since Jharkhand became a state in 2000. These would require approximately 47,445 acres of land for the projects in mineral-rich Kolhan Region, which could affect about 10,000 families and cause deforestation of 5,715 square kms land.[58]

    However, the State government did not rehabilitate most of the people displaced between 1951 and 1991. Over 34% lands were acquired for development projects between 1951 and 1991 for mining and about 7% of Jharkhand's population was displaced, of which nearly half were tribals.[59]

    In June 2005, the government of Jharkhand had reportedly proposed to acquire a total of 113 village areas for the Koel-Karo project for the building of two dams, one at Basia on the south Koel River and another at Lohajimi on the north Karo River. The project would displace thousands of tribals.[60]

    A survey conducted by a team led by nuclear physicist Surendra Gadekar showed a sharp rise in the number of congenital deformities in children in villages around Jadugoda, where the Uranium Corporation Of India Limited's uranium mines had been functioning since 1968.[61]



    [1]. Alarm in Bihar, Jharkhand after killing of SP, The Economic Times, 7 January 2005

    [2]. Naxals massacre 15 in Jharkhand, The Assam Tribune, 13 September 2005

    [3]. Jharkhand tribals up in arms against projects, The Hitavada, 16 November 2005

    [4]. State Pulse: Jharkhand: Poised for confrontation, The Central Chronicle, 18 January 2006 

    [5]. In the domain of ojhas, The Statesman, 22 April 2005

    [6]. Man `starves' to death in Ranchi - Father had not eaten for three days, says son, The Hindu, 21 September 2005

    [7]. Tribal kids in mica snare - tribes at crossroads, The Telegraph, 1 June 2005

    [8]. Prison fast for overstay - Hazaribagh hunger strike as govt sits on lifers' release, The Telegraph, 16 April 2005

    [9]. Inmate death hits Birsa jail, The Telegraph, 29 December 2005

    [10] Remand homes violating human rights: panel, The Deccan Herald, 6 May 2005

    [11]. Four dalits gunned down in Jehanabad, The Kashmir Times, 8 February 2005

    [12]. 2004-2005 Annual Report of NHRC of India

    [13]. 2005 Annual Report of National Crime Records Bureau, Government of India

    [14]. Custody death, The Statesman, 17 November 2005

    [15]. Rights whiplash for cops, The Telegraph, 21 April 2005

    [16]. Trigger-happy cops gun down student, The Telegraph, 20 May 2005

    [17].  ‘Witness' faces cop torture, The Telegraph, 30 April 2005

    [18]. Alarm in Bihar, Jharkhand after killing of SP, The Economic Times, 7 January 2005

    [19]. MLA killed in rebel hotbed - Mahendra Singh shot dead in Giridih, The Telegraph, 17 January 2005

    [20]. Maoists attack Kanker Collector's carcade, 1 killed, The Pioneer, 12 November 2005

    [21]. Seven killed in Jharkhand poll violence, The Deccan Herald, 4 February 2005

    [22]. Constable killed in blast in Jharkhand, The Hindu, 8 February 2005

    [23]. Innocents die in rebel hunt for cop aide, The Telegraph, 20 May 2005

    [24]. Naxals massacre 15 in Jharkhand, The Assam Tribune, 13 September 2005

    [25]. Bloodspill in rebel raid for arms, The Telegraph, 12 November 2005

    [26]. Naxalites kill 15 in Jharkhand, The Tribune, 13 September 2005

    [27]. 2005 Annual Report of National Crime Records Bureau

    [28]. Jawans held for attempt to rape, The Telegraph, 28 March 2005

    [29]. 3 RPF men among rape rogues, The Statesman, 15 September 2005

    [30]. Mother is paraded naked after son elopes, The Asian Age, 14 April 2005

    [31]. 30 held for parading woman semi-nude in Jharkhand, The Deccan Herald, 15 April 2005

    [32]. Woman branded witch, humiliated, The Asian Age, 2 August 2005

    [33]. Woman forced to eat human excreta, The Central Chronicle, 22 November 2005

    [34]. Woman branded witch, cut into pieces & burnt, The Shillong Times, 19 August 2005

    [35]. Tantrik hacked to death, The Deccan Herald, 14 January 2005

    [36]. 2005 Annual Report of National Crime Records Bureau

    [37]. Decline in tribal population points to flaws in census, The Pioneer, 27 December 2005

    [38]. Tribes to get government jobs directly, The Times of India, 26 December 2005

    [39]. Ibid

    [40]. Homeless in rush for progress - Alarm over displacement, The Telegraph, 25 April 2005

    [41]. Tribals to get back lost land - Task force formed, 1500 identified, The Telegraph, 7 June 2005

    [42]. Torching incident: 8 villagers arrested, 13 forest officials absconding, The Deccan Herald, 21 July 2005

    [43]. 2005 Annual Report of National Crime Records Bureau, Government of India

    [44]. Drunk guard shoots boy in Diwali frenzy, The Telegraph, 3 November 2005

    [45]. Tribal kids in mica snare - tribes at crossroads, The Telegraph, 1 June 2005

    [46]. Four minors raped at gunpoint, The Pioneer, 29 October 2005

    [47]. Tribal girls raped, repercussion stymied, The Times of India, 29 October 2005

    [48]. HC prods govt on juvenile justice, The Telegraph, 16 July 2005

    [49]. Faster juvenile trials, The Telegraph, 26 September 2005

    [50]. Remand homes violating human rights: panel, The Deccan Herald, 6 May 2005

    [51]. Faster juvenile trials, The Telegraph, 26 September 2005

    [52]. 2004-2005 Annual Report of NHRC of India

    [53]. Prison fast for overstay - Hazaribagh hunger strike as govt sits on lifers' release, The Telegraph, 16 April 2005

    [54]. Ibid

    [55]. Inmate death hits Birsa jail, The Telegraph, 29 December 2005

    [56]. Ibid

    [57]. Ibid

    [58]. Jharkhand tribals up in arms against projects, The Hitavada, 16 November 2005

    [59]. State Pulse: Jharkhand: Poised for confrontation, The Central Chronicle, 18 January 2006

    [60]. Dam displaced, The Telegraph, 18 June 2005

    [61]. Protests against proposed uranium mine, The Hindu, 20 December 2005

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