Ruled by the Indian National Congress party, Jharkhand continued to face onslaught of the Naxalites, also known as the Maoists, who were reportedly active in 16 out of the 22 districts. According to the estimate of Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR), 95 persons including 20 civilians, 41 security forces and 34 alleged Naxalites were killed in the Naxalite conflict in the State during 2006. Both the Naxalites and the security forces were responsible for serious human rights violations inlcuding extrajudicial killings and torture.
The vigilante groups were also responsible for killings. On 18 September 2006, six Adivasis identified as Kumar Surin, Roche Bage, Delo Munda, Samuel Kandulana, Demra Surin and Sanika Kongari were killed by a self-styled “armed group” known as the Shanti Sena headed by Tileshwar Sahu, which was created to resist the Naxalites menace in districts like Simdega and Gumla. After realization of power, the Shanti Sena started extorting money. The State Government announced a compensation of Rs 3 lakh and a job for the next of kin of the victims.
Victimising, torturing and killing tribal women on the false charges of being “witches” were regularly reported in Jharkhand. According to former Chief Secretary Lakshmi Singh, more than 600 such cases were reported in the State. Out of these, 142 women were killed on the charges of being witches in four years from 2001 and 2005.
Trafficking of tribal girls was common. Tribal girls were trafficked to northern parts of India especially to Delhi, Haryana and Punjab for sexual slavery.
The Dalits also continued to face violence. On 22 June 2006, a Dalit woman identified as Sukari Nayak of Chora village in Ranchi was reportedly beaten up, stripped and paraded through the village by the villagers for allegedly killing a 12-year-old boy Balchand Bhagat.
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children), 2000 was hardly implemented. In a glaring case, in March 2006, officials of the Jharkhand State Electricity Board (JSEB) reportedly lodged a complaint at Sukhdeonagar police station against one-year-old Harsh Chaudhary, son of Suresh Chaudhary, on the charge of stealing electricity for a long time in Ranchi. Besides, the officials also slapped a fine of Rs 4,000 on the boy. The boy's father filed a petition in Ranchi court seeking anticipatory bail for his son on 3 April 2006.
The security forces were responsible for human rights violations including killing, torture, rape, etc. In 2006, the security forces killed at least 27 alleged Naxalites in Jharkhand, according to the estimate of ACHR.
On 27 March 2006, one Haru Dey was beaten to death by the police in full public view at Chandankyari near Bokaro. When the victim asked for water, the policemen abused him and offered to urinate on him. The State Government ordered a magisterial inquiry and released a compensation of Rs 10,000 for the decesed's family.
On 15 August 2006, Sukra Munda was killed in police firing when about a dozen villagers attacked the Gonda police station in Ranchi after some persons were arrested for assaulting the security guards of the Rock Garden on being refused free entry into the Haunted House. However, the magisterial inquiry report claimed that an attacker was accidently hit by the bullet in the melee when some people entered the barrack and tried to snatch the rifles from the policemen.
There were also reports of torture by the security forces. On 22 May 2006, Om Prakash Tiwari, a handicapped hawker at Tatanagar Railway Station, was reportedly beaten up by Railway Protection Force (RPF) officer Kalika Pathak for refusing to pay a bribe. When the victim lodged an FIR at Bagbera police station on the following day, some RPF personnel reportedly beat up six other hawkers, Ashok Kumar, Mahendra Yadav, Mohammad Subhan, Sanjay Kumar, Ratiman Thakur, Upendra Kumar with lathis that evening and sent them to the railway court at Chakradharpur on charges of unauthorised hawking on railway premises. The court imposed a fine of Rs 1,600 on Subhan and Rs 1,100 on the remaining five before letting them go.
In some cases of human rights abuses the perpetrators included top police officials. According to media reports, six Indian Police Services (IPS) officials were facing inquiries for various charges including rape and corruption as in early January 2006. The officials included Inspector General of Police (IG) PS Natarajan who was caught on camera in a compromising position with a lady named Jyoti Badiak (name changed); Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Parvez Hayat who was facing rape charges in the Jyoti Badiak case; DIG of Hazaribagh Range Neeraj Sinha who was found guilty of violating the police manual while arresting a girl of Ranchi in an X-rated CD case; Sampant Meena, who was the then City Superintendent of Police (SP) of Ranchi, was facing departmental proceeding as she had raided the house of the girl; DIG VM Diwakar who was facing bribery charges and SP Anurag Gupta who was accused of helping his wife in seeking Post Graduate degree from Magadh University of Bihar without appearing in the examination.
The armed opposition groups were responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian laws.
According to the estimate of ACHR, the Naxalites killed 20 civilians during 2006. Some of those killed by the Naxalites included former Naxalite Jagdish Sao, who was killed at Bagra village in Chatra district on 23 April 2006; three alleged members of the Village Protection Group identified as Sukara Munda, Guruchan Munda and Soharia Munda who were killed by slitting their throats at Hadian village under Gurabanda police station limits in East Singhbhum district on 3 June 2006; Subodh Ravidas and his wife at Vishnugarh in Hazaribagh district on 22 October 2006; two villagers identified as Ajay and Hemant who were killed at Richughuta village in Latehar district on 26 November 2006; three civilians who were killed at Barkha village in Chatra district on the night of 7 October 2006 and Vijay Sao, a leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who was killed at Chatra town on 27 December 2006.
The Naxalites also killed alleged “police informers”. On the night of 3 June 2006, Yashen Ansari was killed by alleged Naxalites at Barwatoli village under Chandwa police station in Latehar district. On 8 September 2006, Chintaman Munda was killed at Kanduadih village under Dumri police station in Giridih district.
The Naxalites also continued to deliver kangaroo justice through their socalled Jana Adalats, Peoples' Courts. On 17 June 2006, a villager identified as Shyam Sundar Singh was allegedly killed after being tried in Jana Adalat in the forests of Banehesla in Lohardaga district. He was accused of being a “police informer”.
On the night of 12 April 2006, six men engaged in a bridge construction were kidnapped by alleged Naxalites after setting ablaze some vehicles on NH-23 bordering Gumla and Simdega districts.
In Jharkhand, the Naxalites had been systematically destroying all such buildings that could provide shelter to security personnel whether these were school buildings, panchayat bhavans, community centres or any house big enough to shelter a police picket.
The individuals and companies responsible for construction of roads and communications were specifically targeted. Suspected Naxalites set ablaze a machine and two motorcycles of a construction company, Classic Company, in Gola near Ramgarh in Hazaribagh district. Classic Company was involved in renovation of the Rajrappa-Gola Road at Jobia village, 75 km from Hazaribagh on the night of 18 April 2006. The Naxalites left behind pamphlet, which warned middlemen and informers to face the wrath of the Naxalites and demanded 90 per cent participation of lower class in every project.
The vast railway network of the country has been the worst victim of Naxalites' rampage on development. On 15 October 2006, Maoists blew up a portion of the railway track at Chengdo halt station in Giridih district.
In addition, the Naxalites also targeted school buildings. On the night of 2 November 2006, Maoists blew up Herhanj Primary School under Balumath police station area in Latehar district. This was reportedly the third attack by the Maoists on the school. On the night of 24 May 2006, suspected Maoists blew up a school building at Meghania village in Chatra district.
Women continued to face violence including from law enforcement personnel. On 4 February 2006, Geeta Devi, a mother of three, was brutally beaten up with a baton when she had tried to stop the police led by Sub-inspector Satish Kumar Sinha from searching her parents' home to arrest her younger brother Sanjay in connection with a local quarrel in Devnagar. The National Human Rights Commission sought a report from East Singhbhum police on the incident following a complaint from the victim in May 2006.
Women also continued to be victimised after identifying as witches. According to former Chief Secretary Lakshmi Singh, more than 600 such cases were reported in Jharkhand. Out of these, 142 women were killed on the charges of being witches in four years from 2002 and 2005.
Those who were killed as witches in 2006 included Sukhada Singh of Kukdu village in Patamda who was beaten to death with an iron rod by Ragun Murmu for allegedly practising witchcraft on 25 May 2006 and Bandhani Devi, a resident of Samsera village under Bolbo police station of Simdega district, who was beaten to death by Hemnand Baraik on 21 December 2006. She was held responsible for the death of Hemnand Baraik's son by practising witchcraft.
On 17 November 2006, a tribal woman was paraded semi-naked by six men at Bumulda village under Bano police station in Ranchi district for allegedly practicing witchcraft.
The National Crime Records Bureau recorded 483 cases of atrocities against the tribal peoples in Jharkhand in 2005. These included 13 murder cases, 20 rape cases, four kidnapping cases, three arson cases, 160 cases under Protection of Civil Rights Act and 152 cases under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act etc.
Trafficking of tribal girls was common. Tribal girls were trafficked to northern parts of India especially in Delhi, Haryana and Punjab for sexual slavery.
They were forced into sex and abortions till they deliver male babies and were even killed for resistance. The Haryana State Social Welfare Department found a number of cases of trafficking. Rani Kumari (name changed), a resident of Darhi village of Ranchi was sold to Ajmer Singh of Dohla village of Jind district in Haryana in 2005. According to officials, Rani first delivered a male baby with Ajmer Singh, who enacted a farcical marriage with Rani. After delivering the baby, Rani was forced to undergo the same with brothers of Ajmer to beget male babies for them too. She was murdered in February 2006 for her refusal. In 2004, Sarita (name changed) was taken to New Delhi with assurance of a job. She was sold to a person in Haryana. She too had to bear a male baby for the man. Likewise, Ranki (name changed) was lured to New Delhi with a job assurance and sold to a person of Punjab where she was raped for a baby. She, however, managed to escape and later rescued by a women organization.
Alienation of tribal lands was on the rise in Jharkhand. A total of 2,608 cases of alienation of tribal land were registered under the Special Area Regulation Court in 2003-2004, 2,657 cases in 2004-2005 and 3,230 cases in 2005-2006. According to the 2004-2005 Annual Report of Ministry of Rural Development of the Government of India, undivided Bihar (including Jharkhand) topped the list of tribal land alienation in India with 86,291 cases involving 10,48,93 acres of land.
Tribal lands were snatched by the State forest department officials on the pretext that it belonged to the government. They were not allowed to hold meeting to discuss their rights. Besides, only 30 per cent of the government schemes meant for tribals reach the beneficiaries in the State.
Army firing ranges also create problems for the tribals. On 22 August 2006, thousand of people, especially tribals demonstrated before the District Secretariat demanding the closure of the army firing range in Netharhat town of Latehar district. The range covers 1471 sq km spread over 245 villages of Latehar and Gumla districts. The army was also engaged in other human rights violations of the tribals. As on 24 August 2006, 30 cases had been filed by the local residents against the Army relating to rape, attempt to rape, taking away animals forcefully among others.
Tribal lands were misused for commercial purposes. Several tribal lands were given to various housing cooperatives under the Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act, 1908 which allows tribal lands to be given for public use with permission from the Deputy Commissioner. However, a survey revealed that most of these housing cooperatives have diverted these tribal lands for construction of shopping malls, markets and other commercial purposes.
In January 2006, prisoner Praveen Munda was allegedly killed by other inmates who enjoyed the support of jail officials of the Central Jail in Hazairbagh district. Jail authorities claimed that the deceased committed suicide.
Diseases were also rampant in the jails. Due to overcrowding in the Birsa Munda jail, healthy prisoners were forced to share space with ailing inmates which was taking toll on the prisoners. There were 2,900 prisoners staying in the 18 wards of the jail against the capacity of just 620 as on mid-March 2006. The hospital did not have a medical wing, thereby, the inmates suffering from a disease shares the same space with the healthy one. According to the jail officials, there were more than 50 tuberculosis affected inmates.
Administration of justice in Jharkhand suffered from manpower shortage, infrastructural constraints and the procedural delays. By the end of December 2006, there were 2 vacancies in the High Court of Jharkhand, while there were 54 vacancies in the District and Subordinate Courts as on 30 September 2006. A total of 2,77,075 cases were pending with the High Court and 2,78,098 cases were pending with the District and Subordinate Courts as on 30 September 2006.
To speed up the delivery of justice mechanism, the State Government reportedly initiated some measures. These included a Judicial Academy to get adequately trained manpower, to strengthen the existing number of judges in the High Court, establishment of 12 new District and Sessions Courts to strengthen the institutional framework, creation of more posts for Sub-ordinate judiciary and administrative staff to overcome the manpower shortage. Besides, the State Government also embarked on an ambitious program for computerization of the courts to streamline their functioning and speed up the delivery of justice.
Thousands of children were working as bonded labourers, mostly in brick kilns. In January 2006, 99 bonded labourers were rescued by the police from different brick kilns in Ranchi. Of these, more than 40 were children, most of them below 14 years. These labourers were brought from Chhattisgarh by the brick kiln owners with assurance of payment of Rs 195 for baking 1000 brick. However, they were given only food and beaten black and blue whenever they asked for money.
The authorities made a mockery of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000.
In March 2006, officials of the Jharkhand State Electricity Board reportedly lodged a complaint at Sukhdeonagar police station against one-year-old Harsh Chaudhary, son of Suresh Chaudhary, on the charge of stealing electricity for a long time in Ranchi. Besides, the officials also slapped a fine of Rs 4,000 on the boy. The boy's father filed a petition in Ranchi court seeking anticipatory bail for his son on 3 April 2006.
On 18 December 2006, five-year-old Lak Murmu of Matrukha village filed a bail application and discharge petition before the court of Judicial Magistrate AK Pandey in connection with a criminal case. Lal was just over 14 months old when the FIR was filed against him on 18 September 2002 on the charge of destroying plants in the Purnanagar forestation area. A non-bailable arrest warrant was also issued against the boy.
In another case, a seven-year-old girl, Shoma (name changed), reportedly spent nine years instead of nine days at the government-owned Nari Niketan at Deoghar after she failed to pay a fine of Rs 350 imposed by the railway magistrate. She was picked up by the railway police on the charges of loitering without a valid ticket at a railway station. The girl might still have been languishing in the Nari Niketan, had the then Chief Justice of Jharkhand High Court not visited the Nari Niketan in 2005. By the time the judge noticed her; the girl had turned 16 and had lost all memories about her family and of her own identity.
There were about 239 inmates at Ranchi's Child Remand Home as of November 2006. Of these, about 109 inmates were in the 18-22 age group and 129 inmates below 14 years of age. These adult inmates exploit the children. The Home had a capacity of only 50 as such they have to sleep in shifts due to lack of space. On 10 November 2006, Jharkhand High Court's Chief Justice M Karpagavinayagam visited the home and ordered all adult inmates be shifted to the Birsa Munda jail, but they continued to be lodged there.
. Peace bows to brigade bloodbath, The Telegraph, 20 September 2006
. Poverty link to human rights, The Telegraph, 18 January 2006
. Women beaten up, paraded naked, The Tribune, 24 June 2006
. 1-yr-old charged for theft, The Times of India, 4 April 2006
. Custody death sparks bandh, The Telegraph, 29 March 2006
. Bias tag on firing probe report, The Telegraph, 9 September 2006
. Call to penalise RPF men, The Telegraph, 26 May 2006
. Six IPS officers face inquiry, The Pioneer, 9 January 2006
. Maoists gun down former militant, The Hindu, 24 April 2006
. Maoists butcher 3 in Jharkhand, The Deccan Herald, 4 June 2006
. Maoists behead couple in Jharkhand, http://www.indiaenews.com/india/20061023/25987.htm
. Jharkhand: Maoists kill two persons, The Hindu, 26 November 2006, http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/004200611261219.htm
. Maoists kill three civilians, The Statesman, 9 October 2006
. Leader is shot dead by Naxalites, The Asian Age, 28 December 2006
. Villager killed, The Statesman, 5 June 2006
. Rebels stab 'informer' to death, The Telegraph, 9 September 2006
. Maoists kill villager in Jharkhand, The Asian Age, 19 June 2006
. Naxals kidnap six men, set ablaze vehicles, The Times of India, 13 April 2006
. Security shelter on rebel radar- Maoists target and destroy buildings used by police to take cover and rest, The Telegraph, 3 May 2006
. Rebels raid on road builders, The Telegraph, Kolkata, 20 April 2006
. Blast and blaze in twin red raids, The Telegraph, Kolkata, 16 October 2006
. Maoist ultras blow up school in Jharkhand http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?NewsID=1066057
. Naxalites target construction firm in Jharkhand, The Indian Express, 29 May 2006
. NHRC seeks abuse report, The Telegraph, 26 May 2006
. Poverty link to human rights, The Telegraph, 18 January 2006
. Woman killed for'witchcraft, The Telegraph, 26 May 2006
. 'Witch' beaten to death, The Times of India, 22 December 2006
. Witch-hunt: FIR against six men, The Deccan Herald, 21 November 2006
. J'khand girls being sold for sexual slavery, The Hitavada, 12 March 2006
. Tribal land grab cases on rise in Jharkhand, The Pioneer, 14 February 2007
. Laws elude tribal rights, The Telegraph, 5 April 2006
. Close Netharhat firingrange, tribals demand, The Pioneer, 24 August 2006
. Protest over land misuse, The Telegraph, 2 September 2006
. Rage over jail death, The Telegraph, 27 January 2006
. Diseases rule in jail, The Telegraph, 14 March 2006
. Court News, October-December, The Supreme Court of India
. Strength judicial mechanism for speedy justice: Bei, The Kashmir Times, 14 March 2006
. 99 bonded labourers rescued from Jharkhand brick kilns, The Pioneer, 11 January 2006
. 1-yr-old charged for theft, The Times of India, 4 April 2006
. Criminal case against 5-year-old, The Hindustan Times, 21 December 2006
. For her, 9 days in prison lasted 9 yrs, The Hindustan Times, 26 June 2006
. Juveniles share remand home with rapists, dacoits, The Indian Express, 27 November 2006