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  • Bihar

    1. Overview.. 1
    2. Human rights violations by the security forces. 3
    3. Violations of international humanitarian laws by the AOGs. 3
    a. Violations of the right to life. 3
    b. Kangaroo justice through Jana Adalats. 4
    c. Destruction of infrastructure. 4
    4. Violations of rights of the Dalits. 5
    a. Physical attacks. 6
    b. Violence against Dalit women. 6
    5. Violations of rights of the child. 7
    6. Judiciary and administration of justice. 8


    1. Overview

    Ruled by Janata Dal (United) and Bharatiya Janata Party alliance, Bihar continued to be the most lawless State in India. Many serving State police officials had serious criminal charges against them. According to a list prepared by the Bihar Home Department and submitted to the Patna High Court in December 2006, 264 policemen, including three Indian Police Service (IPS) officers, faced serious criminal charges including murder and kidnapping. The IPS officers in the list included Bettiah Superintendent of Police Bachchu Singh Meena, Buxar Superintendent of Police Paresh Saxena and Railway Deputy Inspector-General Ajay Kumar Verma. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar even awarded a police medal to Meena for “excellent performance in carrying out investigations, encounters, arrests and the rescue operations”.[1] The Patna High Court directed the State Government to complete investigation which were pending against the police officials within one month if the cases were over five years old and in two months if the cases were not more than five years old.[2]

    In a situation where law enforcement officers were themselves involved in criminal activities, the common citizenry was bound to feel highly insecure. Abductions continued to be an industry in Bihar. In August 2006, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar admitted in the State Assembly that 1,618 murders and 97 kidnapping cases had been reported during January-June 2006 while 1,688 murders and 117 cases of kidnapping had been reported during the corresponding period of 2005.[3] In September 2006, the State Government informed the Patna High Court that 904 children had been abducted since 2001. Of this, 766 were rescued, 40 killed by kidnappers and 98 remained missing.[4]

    The State witnessed increased Maoists violence during 2006. According to the estimate of Asian Centre for Human Rights, 45 persons including 12 civilians, 12 security personnel and 21 alleged Maoists were killed in the Naxalite conflict in Bihar during 2006.[5] The Ministry of Home Affairs reportedly allocated an annual budget of Rs 23,000 crores to address the Naxal conflict. The Bihar Government alone sought  Rs 21,000 crores![6]

    The Dalits continued to be victims of caste-based violence and discrimination. Extreme poverty and discrimination especially in the administration of justice accentuated the violations against the Dalits. In a rare case in November 2006, District Judge Avinash Kumar Sinha sentenced 28 persons to ten years' rigorous imprisonment in connection with a case of attack on Dalits in a land dispute at Bela village under Jamalpur police station in Darbhanga district on 25 November 1992.[7] However, justice continued to elude the victims of several other past attacks/massacres of Dalits such as the Narayanpur massacre of 10 February 1999 in which 12 Dalits were killed by the Ranvir Sena, an outfit of the upper castes.[8]

    Dalit women were specifically targeted by upper caste men. Traditional social practice of “Sati” was still prevalent in the State despite banning it decades ago. On 21 April 2006, a 77-year-old Sita Devi allegedly committed Sati by jumping into the funeral pyre of her husband at Imamganj in Gaya district. The Bihar State Women's Commission on 25 April 2006 directed the Gaya district administration to investigate her death.[9]

    Social activists continued to be targeted. On 8 April 2006, social activist Monica Tiwari was reportedly killed by unidentified men at her home at HIG Housing Colony under Agam Kuan police station in Kankarbagh.[10]

    Judicial delay was further compounded due to large number of vacancies in the judiciary. There were 15 vacancies of judges as against the sanctioned strength of 43 in the Patna High Court as on 1 October 2006.[11] The vacancy in the High Court decreased to 13 by the end of December 2006.[12] In the District and Subordinate Courts, 519 posts of judges were lying vacant as on 30 September 2006. While there were a total of 92,582 cases pending before the Patna High Court, a total of 12,85,379 cases were pending before the District and Subordinate Courts as on 30 September 2006.[13]

    2. Human rights violations by the security forces

    The Bihar Police were responsible for gross human rights violations including torture and violations of the right to life. On 16 June 2006, Ramjatan Ram and Rajesh Kumar Singh were allegedly tortured to death at Shahpur police station in Samastipur district after their arrest. The police claimed that they committed suicide with their shirts. Mr BK Mishra, the Officer-In-Charge of the police station, was suspended.[14]

    The police also resorted to indiscriminate firing at civilians in the name of controlling angry protestors. On 1 March 2006, one Krishna Singh, a resident of Fatehpur under Belaganj police station, was reportedly killed and two others identified as Vikas Kumar Sharma and Chhotu Kumar were injured when the police opened fire at a group of students who were reportedly demanding to know the revised date of the Mathematics test of an examination being conducted by the Bihar Intermediate Education Council at Jagjivan Ram College campus at Manpur village in Gaya district. The government announced ex gratia compensation of Rs 50,000 and a shop under Public Distribution System for the kin of the deceased and medical aid to the injured victims.[15]

    In a rare case, the Patna High court in  March 2006 directed the State Government to pay a compensation of Rs 5 lakh within three months to Ramavtar Swarnkar, whose son Sheo Kant Kumar had died at the Digha police station on 4 June 1998 after his arrest in connection with a criminal case. The deceased was forced to lie down on hot sand in the peak of summer and when he asked for water, the police inserted hot sand into his mouth.[16]

    3. Violations of international humanitarian laws by the AOGs

    The Naxalites were responsible for gross violations of international humanitarian laws including killing, abduction, torture, summary executions after trial by its so-called Peoples' Court, Jana Adalat etc.

    a. Violations of the right to life

    According to the estimate of Asian Centre for Human Rights, 24 persons including 12 civilians and 12 security personnel were killed by the Naxalites in Bihar in 2006.[17]

    Among the Maoists' victims were political activists opposed to the Maiosts' activities. The political activists killed by the Maoists included former MLA Hari Prasad alias Ghamari on 2 January 2006[18] and Janata Dal (United) leader Ashok Singh and six of his supporters in Aurangabad district for defying panchayat poll boycott on 24 April 2006.[19]

    The Maoists also targeted civilians through explosive devices. On 29 July 2006, two persons were killed in a powerful explosion in a Howrah-bound bus near Sulebatta ground on the Grand Trunk Road near Barachatti, about 50 km from Gaya.[20]

    b. Kangaroo justice through Jana Adalats

    The Naxalites continued to deliver kangaroo justice through so-called Jana Adalats, Peoples' Courts. Often, trials were arbitrary and those found guilty were awarded capital punishment. The Maoists also awarded punishments like chopping off body parts like ear, nose and hands of the accused. An estimate stated that since 1991 the Maoists beheaded at least 18 people, limbs of over 37 persons were amputated, at least 5,900 persons were fined and houses of about 127 persons demolished by bombing in Jehanabad district alone during or after the proceedings in Jana Adalats. People suspected of acting as police informers, supporters of the private army Ranvir  Sena and deserters from Naxalite groups, were most likely to be awarded capital punishment in the Jana Adalats.[21]

    In November 2006, a CPI (Maoist) leader who identified himself as Manish issued a statement from Gaya saying that “the central committee of the CPI (M) has decided not to award death sentences or chop off noses, ears and hands as punishment.” The statement said that the villagers would decide on the quantum of punishment to be awarded.[22]

    c. Destruction of infrastructure

    The Maoists acted as major obstacles to development. The vast railway network came under attacks of the Maoists. On 25 April 2006, they attacked the Narganjo railway station on the Jhajha-Asansol railway line in Jamui district and blew up a railway cabin and railway tracks after tying up the staff of the railway station.[23]

    Some other attacks on government properties included bombing of a rest house at Bhim Bandh, a tourist spot in Munger district on 25 May 2006,[24] blowing up of Bansi Nala halt railway station in Gaya district on 9 April 2006,[25] and destroying railway tracks at Narkatiagunj and an office of the forest department in Champaran district on 30 October 2006.[26]

    On 31 October 2006,  the Maoists set ablaze three private buses at Balua-Gausnagar village under Runni Saidpur police station in Sitamarhi district.[27]

    4. Violations of rights of the Dalits

    Caste-based violence against the Dalits were common in the State. The National Crime Records Bureau recorded a total of 1,824 cases of atrocities against the Dalits in Bihar during 2005. These included 12 murder cases, 16 rape cases, 19 arson, 319 hurt and 1,141 cases under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act etc.

    Discrimination against the Dalits was omnipresent. Even the State Police were reportedly divided on the caste line. The Dalit policemen had separate kitchens in the police line across the State while Yadavs, Rajputs, Bhumihar and others maintained their own separate kitchens.[28]

    In a rare case in November 2006, District Court Judge Avinash Kumar Sinha sentenced 28 persons to ten years' rigorous imprisonment in connection with a case relating to an attack on the Dalits at Bela village under Jamalpur police station in Darbhanga district on 25 November 1992.[29]

    However, justice continued to elude other victims. The prosecution of the culprits of Narayanpur massacre of 10 February 1999 had virtually collapsed simply because of the unwillingness of the State to establish accountability. All the accused in the massacre, where 12 Dalits were killed by Ranvir Sena, were out on bail. The State Government failed to set up a special court for speedy trial and provide protection to the witnesses who were being threatened by the powerful accused in the case.[30]

    The violence and killings by the criminals and the armed opposition groups like Ranvir Sena, Peoples War (PW) and Maoists Communist Centre (MCC) in Bihar could be considered at the same level as the violence caused by the armed opposition groups elsewhere in India. Yet, the Central Government and Bihar Government continued to maintain double standards. While the Centre had declared the MCC and PW as “terrorist organisations” under section 18 of the Prevention of Terrorist Act, 2002 and under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 2004, the Ranvir Sena, private army of the landlords, which was allegedly involved in 33 massacres claiming over 280 lives, was never banned.[31]

    a. Physical attacks

    On 1 January 2006, a Kahar caste woman and her five minor children were burnt alive at their home at Rampur-Shyamchak village in Vaishali district after her husband Bijendra Mahto refused to withdraw a complaint of theft of a buffalo against Jagat Rai, his son and nephew. Bijendra Mahto had to be admitted to the Patna Medical College with 90 per cent burn injuries. According to the police, about 10 persons attacked Bijendra Mahto's family, tied them up with ropes and set fire to their thatched hut at midnight. Earlier, Jagat Rai, his son and nephew were arrested on the basis of Mahto's FIR but were released on bail. According to witnesses, Jagat Rai led the mob that torched Mahto's house and also fired in the air to prevent others from coming to the rescue of the family. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar immediately ordered a probe into the incident and suspended Raghopur police station Officer-in-charge, N. Khan, and assured adequate compensation to the victims' kin and a house under the Indira Awas Yojana scheme.[32]

    Even the Dalit village chiefs did not command any respect from the upper caste villagers. They were humiliated by their subordinates. On 5 July 2006, Sughar Paswan, a Dalit village head, was beaten up for sitting on a chair in front of upper caste men while presiding over a Village Council meeting to review the list of those living below poverty line at Haswadih village in Bhojpur district.[33]

    Refusal to follow the diktat of the upper caste resulted in disastrous circumstances. On 10 August 2006, the eyes of 10-year-old Ajit Kumar of Dhabouli village in Begusarai district were reportedly gauged with a pointed grass-cutting tool by upper caste persons as his parents had refused to vote for a particular candidate in the panchayat polls.[34]

    Similarly, on 22 August 2006, a 65-year-old Dalit man was reportedly blinded by upper caste men in Maner for allegedly stealing two bottles of liquor.[35]    

    b. Violence against Dalit women

    The Dalit women were extremely vulnerable especially to sexual abuse. On the intervening night of 6 and 7 August 2006, four Dalit women, aged between 20 and 40 years, were allegedly raped by six upper caste men at Ramnagar village under Suryagarha police station in Lakhisarai district following their relatives' refusal to vote for Bhumihar candidates in the panchayat elections. The State Women's Commission chairperson Manju Prakash alleged that Suryagarha police refused to listen to the victims and a case was registered at Munger's Harijan police station on 13 August 2006. Later the police arrested four accused identified as Shambhu Singh, Shankar Singh, Arun Sharma and Vipin Sharma. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar ordered an inquiry into the incident only after the Rashtriya Janata Dal raised the issue and staged protests.[36]

    On 24 August 2006, 30-year-old daughter and 25-year-old daughter-in-law of an old Dalit man were allegedly gangraped at gunpoint by a group of ten  upper caste men at Sarbahda village under Khilgersarai police station in Gaya district.[37]

    On 20 December 2006, a 10-year-old Dalit girl, daughter of Sukho Ram, was attacked by upper caste men and all the fingers on her right hand were chopped off by one Pankaj Rai with a sickle at Phulwaria village in Bhagalpur district. The victim had reportedly strayed into Rai's plot and plucked a few leaves.[38]

    Dalit women were also meted out degrading treatment. On 23 December 2006, a Dalit woman identified as Basra Devi of Balua Basanta village in Vaishali district was tonsured and paraded half-naked by the villagers at the orders of landlord Satyanarayan Chaurasia, who was also the husband of the village head, for allegedly stealing bananas.[39]

    5. Violations of rights of the child

    Children were targeted by abductors for ransom in Bihar. In September 2006, the State Government informed the Patna High Court that 904 children have been abducted since 2001. Of this, 766 were rescued, 40 killed by the kidnappers and 98 remained missing.[40]

    Apart from the criminals, the Maoists were also responsible for abduction of children. On the night of 28 December 2006, a group of nearly 50 armed men  suspected to be Maoists allegedly kidnapped five children during a raid at Jagjivanpur village in Bhojpur district.[41]

    Many children were employed in the police department. Vikas Kumar (12) was inducted as a “bal arakshi” (child constable) in the Bihar Police in December 2005 reportedly on compassionate grounds after the death of his father who was a constable. His appointment was not an isolated case.  There were reportedly about 228 child constables, mostly between 12 and 17 years, across the 38 districts of Bihar. They were used as errand boys by police officers, bringing files and tea.[42]

    6. Judiciary and administration of justice

    On 25 May 2006, Bihar created record when Rohtas District and Sessions Judge Arun Kumar Srivastava awarded life sentence to all nine accused in a kidnapping of a doctor and his driver and ordered recovery of Rs 15 lakh by disposing off the properties of the accused and payment of the same to the two kidnapped persons in a trial which lasted only for 18 days![43]

    However, not all cases met similar fate. There were cases which were more than 10 years old and yet pending investigations. On 24 February 2006, the State Government set up one-man judicial commission headed by retired Judge of Patna High Court, Justice NN Singh to re-investigate the Bhagalpur communal riots of 1989. The judicial commission was asked to submit its report in six months. Its terms of reference included investigation of the role of prosecuting agencies and pointing out the lapses on their part in producing evidence against the accused in court. It was also mandated to fix responsibility for lapses and recommend appropriate action against the guilty.[44] More than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in the Bhagalpur riots. 811 FIRs have been registered out of which charge-sheets were filed in 302 cases. 152 cases were disposed of by the lower courts and in 119 cases, the accused could not be brought to justice. In 33 cases, most of the accused were sentenced life term. Many have appealed to the High Court. Other cases are pending before special courts. In 27 cases, the accused were allegedly exonerated by then police officials despite having strong evidence against them. The Nitish Kumar government ordered re-investigations into these 27 cases.[45] However, the Justice NN Singh Commission was yet to start its function as of 9 July 2006.[46] In September 2006, the Bihar Police decided to lodge a complaint against the rioters who killed nine members of a Muslim family under Nathnagar police station in October 1989.[47]

    The judicial delay was further compounded due to large number of vacancies in the judiciary. There were 15 vacancies of judges as against the sanctioned strength of 43 in the Patna High Court as on 1 October 2006.[48] The vacancy in the High Court decreased to 13 by the end of December 2006.[49] In the District and Subordinate Courts, 519 posts of judges were lying vacant as on 30 September 2006. While there were a total of 92,582 cases pending before the Patna High Court, a total of 12,85,379 cases were pending before the District and Subordinate Courts as on 30 September 2006.[50]

     

     



    [1]. Many top Bihar cops have criminal cases against them, rediff.com, 8 December 2006, http://www.rediff.com/news/2006/dec/08bihar.htm

    [2]. Criminal charges on 264 Bihar policemen, The Asian Age, 6 December 2006 

    [3]. http://in.news.yahoo.com/060902/43/6779c.html

    [4]. Kidnappings, killings back in Bihar, The Pioneer, 24 October 2006 

    [5]. Naxal Conflict in 2006, Asian Centre for Human Rights, 10 January 2007 

    [6]. Get real with Naxal bill, Bihar told, The Hindustan Times, 20 April 2006 

    [7]. 10-year jail term to 28 for attacking dalits, The Sentinel, 22 November 2006 

    [8]. EXPRESS UPDATE : THE NARAYANPURI MASSACRE -See no evil?, The Indian Express, 8 January 2006

    [9]. Panel calls for 'sati' probe, The Telegraph, 26 April 2006 

    [10]. Political Activist Found Murdered at Her Home in Kankarbagh, The Patna Daily, 9 April 2005 

    [11]. Court News, July-September, The Supreme Court of India

    [12]. Court News, October -December, The Supreme Court of India

    [13]. Court News, October -December, The Supreme Court of India

    [14]. Lock-up deaths, The Statesman, 17 June 2006 

    [15]. Police firing kills man, The Telegraph, 2 March 2006 

    [16]. Custodial death: Bihar govt fined, The Deccan Herald, 2 April 2006 

    [17]. Naxal Conflict in 2006, Asian Centre for Human Rights, 10 January 2007 

    [18]. Ex-MLA killed, The Telegraph, Kolkata, 4 January 2006 

    [19]. Maoist kill 7 in Aurangabad, Central Chronicle, 26 April 2006 

    [20]. 2 die, 9 hurt in bus blast, Times of India, 30 July 2006 

    [21]. Naxal court pronounced sentence in Bihar, The Hitavada, 1 July 2006 

    [22]. Maoists drop capital punishment in Bihar, The Times of India, 27 November 2006 

    [23]. Naxalites blow up railway track, cabin, The Tribune, 27 April 2006 

    [24]. Naxals blast rest house, The Hindu, 26 May 2006 

    [25]. Naxals Hit Rail Tracks, The Asian Age, 10 April 2006 

    [26]. Naxals blow up track, office, The Deccan Chronicle, 31 October 2006 

    [27]. Maoists burn 3 buses in Bihar, The Asian Age, 1 November 2006 

    [28]. Caste kitchens in Bihar police, The Asian Age, 8 January 2006 

    [29]. 10-year jail term to 28 for attacking dalits, The Sentinel, 22 November 2006 

    [30]. EXPRESS UPDATE : THE NARAYANPURI MASSACRE -See no evil?, The Indian Express, 8 January 2006

    [31]. Voters panic as Ranvir Sena chief joins fray, The Statesman, 24 February 2004 

    [32]. Woman, 5 children burnt alive in Bihar, The Hindu, 2 January 2006 

    [33]. Mukhiya beaten up for using a chair, The Asian Age, 11 July 2006 

    [34]. 2 dalits gangraped in Bihar, The Asian Age, 26 August 2006 

    [35]. 2 dalits gangraped in Bihar, The Asian Age, 26 August 2006 

    [36]. Rape' victims meet Nitish, The Telegraph, 23 August 2006 

    [37]. 2 dalits gangraped in Bihar, The Asian Age, 26 August 2006 

    [38]. Dalit girl's fingers chopped off - Her crime - pinching a few spinach leaves, The Hindustan Times, 25 December 2006

    [39]. Dalit woman stripped, paraded for stealing fruit, The Pioneer, 26 December 2006 

    [40]. Kidnappings, killings back in Bihar, The Pioneer, 24 October 2006 

    [41]. 'Rebels' take five children, The Telegraph, 30 December 2006 

    [42]. Meet Bihar police's teen brigade, Child Constables Get Jobs on Compassionate Grounds, Used As Errand Boys By Officers, The Times Of India, 25 July 2006

    [43]. Bihar court awards life term to 9 in an 18-day trial, The Times of India, 27 May 2006 

    [44]. Nitish reopens Bhagalpur riot cases, The Times of India, 25 February 2006 

    [45]. Nitish puts past Govts in the dock, The Pioneer, 28 February 2006 

    [46]. Bhagalpur riots: More than 6 months later, commission yet to start work, The Pioneer, 10 July 2006 

    [47]. Bihar will file FIR in Bhagalpur riots of '89, The Asian Age, 10 September 2006 

    [48]. Court News, July-September 2006, The Supreme Court of India

    [49]. Court News, October -December 2006, The Supreme Court of India

    [50]. Court News, October -December 2006, The Supreme Court of India

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