States Round Up Issue-01 July to September 2010 Index Page
Full version of the report

Jharkhand



I. Highlight: Endangered tribe disappears, forest rights denied

The Particularly Vulnerable Tribal groups have been facing extinction due to official apathy towards the tribal communities. An endangered groupnamely Kumarbhag Paharia disappeared from Santhal Pargana region. The Kumarbhag Paharias once inhabited the Rajmahal hills in Santhal Pargana. According to the 1971 census, the population of the tribe was 7,568 in the area. However, there was no mention of them in the 1981 census.  Today there is not a single Kumarbhag Paharia to be found in Santhal Pargana region. The administration is totally clueless about the disappearance of Kumarbhag Paharia tribals from Santhal Pargana region! [1]

Another endangered tribe is on the verge of extinction. Between 24 August and 30 August 2010, at least 10 members of the endangered Paharia tribe, including four children died at Duggu Karma Toka village in Barhet block of Sahebganj district due to lack of basic medical facilities. Deputy Commissioner K. Ravi Kumar stated that the first case came to light on August 24th, when Gram Pradhan (Village Head) Dharma Paharia (45 years) died of various diseases. The next day the Block Development Officer issued written orders to local health officials to send a team to Duggu Karma Toka for inspection and organize a health camp. But the medical officers did not act till August 28th. [2] In his report to the State Health Department, Deputy Commissioner K. Ravi Kumar stated that the doctors at the Barhet primary health centre and at the additional health centre at Bodobandh did not heed to the orders and organized a medical camp only after deaths of 10 tribals. Mr Kumar recommended stringent departmental action against the doctors for the deaths of 10 Paharias in Bodobandh panchayat in Barhet block. [3] But no action was taken till date.

On the other hand, the government failed to implement the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act. According to N.C. Saxena Committee constituted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, only 7,207 forest dwellers have been granted land rights under the Forest Rights Act while as many as 11,054 claims were rejected as of August 2010. [4]

II. Violations of civil and political rights

There were reports of serious human rights violations from Jharkhand during July – September 2010.

On 5 July 2010, joint forces comprising of Jharkhand Armed Police and CRPF’s Special Action Force allegedly picked up and extrajudicially killed 45-year-old Etwa Munda of Papirdah village under Tamar Police Station in Ranchi district. The joint forces team under the leadership of E.H. Siddique, the officer-in-charge of Tamar Police Station, arrived in Gunti village and picked up Etwa Munda when he was in the house of his relative Manav Munda. The police also picked up a girl, Bengi Kumari, and took them towards Jabla pahari (forest). After sometime, the villagers heard the sound of firing and rushed toward the spot. They found the body of Etwa Munda lying on the ground. The police claimed that Etwa Munda was a hardcore Maoist cadre and was killed in an encounter with the police. The villagers approached a local activist, Xavier Soy, and told him about the fake encounter. When the police came to know this, they arrested Xavier Soy and his school-going son accusing them of keeping Maoist literature in their house. [5]

On 1 August 2010, the police picked up Rajesh Singh Munda of Papridah village. They took him near the Koja river in Heso forest and allegedly shot him dead after accusinig him as a hardcore Maoist and aide of the Maoist Zonal Commander, Kundan Pahan. The Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arjun Munda raised the issue and demanded a CBI inquiry alleging that the police had killed Rajesh Singh Munda in cold blood. [6] It remains to be seen whether Mr Arjun Munda who became the Chief Minister of Jharkhand on 11 September 2010 fulfills his own demand to bring the culprits to justice. [7]

III. Abuses by the AOGs

The Maoists, who are also known as the Naxalites, were responsible for violations of international humanitarian law.

On the night of 13 August 2010, Maoists killed one Dusashan Mahto (35 years) on the charges of being a police informer near Chowka in Seraikela-Kharsawan district. The deceased was first abducted at gun point by the Maoists when he was heading home to Bansa village under Chowka police station, and later shot dead. Police found the mutilated body of Mahto near a culvert at Juru, around eight kilometres from Chowka. A leaflet recovered by the police allegedly left by the Maoists claimed that Mahto was killed in retaliation of the killing of Van Raksha Samity member Sukhlal Majhi eight months ago. [8]

On the night of 4 September 2010, three villagers were killed by Maoists in three separate incidents in Khunti district. The deceased persons were identified as Pradeep Kumar (25 years), Jago Lohra (35 years) and Puran Chand (40 years). Pradeep Kumar was allegedly stoned to death at Umangdiri under Tapkara police station and a poster left beside the body claimed that Kumar was killed as he was an “eve-teaser”. Jago Lohra was beheaded at Jenadih under Arki police station and Puran Chand was shot dead at Maranghada, about 30 km from Khunti Sadar police station. [9]

On 13 September 2010, the Maoists killed  a chowkidar (watchman) identified as Rajeshar Paswan at Panchadumar in Garhwa district alleging that he was a police informer.

On 21 September 2010, suspected Maoists killed two persons on the charges of being “police informers” at Gumharia under Adaki police station in Khunti district. Their bodies were found near Gumharia. The Maoists left a letter warning villagers not to inform the police about their activities. [11]

The Maoists were accsued of stalling the welfare schemes in the tribal areas. On the night of 17 July 2010, the Maoists set on fire eight earthmovers, two tractors and a road-roller at Bhadua village under Ghatshila police station in East Singhbhum district. The equipment was being used to construct a 20-kilometre-long stretch from Mahisduba in Ghatshila to Pungora on the West Bengal border as part of the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. [12]

On 26 September 2010 armed Maoists abducted three employees of a construction company “Abhay Enterprises” from Babandih, 2 km from Barwadih police station in Latehar district. The workers of Abhay Enterprises were engaged in a 25 km road project connecting Barwadih to Mandal. Those abducted were identified as company accountant Manoj Yadav, JCB operator Firoz Khan and his helper Dhananjay Mehta. [13]
The Maoists also targeted schools. On the night of 8 August 2010, Maoists reportedly blew up a school building at Kanda village in Palamau district. [14]

IV. Violations of women’s rights

The rights of the women were violated in Jharkhand. Killing, torturing and obstracizing women after branding them as “witches” continued unabated. The National Crime Records Bureau under Ministry of Home Affairs recorded deaths of 249 persons, mostly women, between 2001 and 2008 for “practising witchcraft” in Jharkhand. The Jharkhand Criminal Investigation Department figures maintain that as many as 1,200 witches managed to survive torture and attacks between 2001 and 2009. The figures suggest that there has been a rise in the number of attacks on women after accusing them of being a “witches”. [15]

On the night of 15 August 2010, an elderly widow identified as Durga Ravidas was hacked to death after being branded a witch by a neighbour at Bhuiyandih under Sitaramdera police station area in Jamshedpur district. According to the police, Samar accused the victim of casting a spell to kill his wife. [16]

On the night of 25 September 2010, two women identified as Guruwari Devi and Mukta Devi were beaten up, after being branded as “witches”, by the villagers of Joshi Colony, Sector 9, under Herla police station at Bokaro Steel City. One of the victims, Guruwari Devi died on the spot while Mukta Devi was admitted to a hospital with multiple injuries. The villagers alleged that the victims had put another woman Sunita Devi on fire. Police officials also said that Sunita alleged that the both women were practicing witchcraft which was responsible for her child’s death. [17]

V. Violations of ESCRs
a. Violations of the right to food

During July-September 2010, ACHR documented deaths of several persons due to starvation. It was reported in April 2010 that poverty-stricken parents plunged red-hot iron rods into their malnourished and diseased children’s bodies to mitigate hunger and disease at Mirgitand village in East Singhbhum district. Several children died when fatally injured or infected during this primitive procedure. [18] The State government remained indifferent to media reports.

On 25 September 2010, 45 year-old Yugeshwar Bhuiya died of starvation at Semarhat Tola of Dokra village under Chainpur block of Palamu district. According to the family members of the deceased, there was no food in the house to eat for several weeks. They were too poor to buy any food and were surviving on some kind of “herb”. But the Block Development Officer, S.N. Upadhyay of Chainpur block refused to acknowledge any starvation death. He stated that the villager might have died due to illness. [19]

On 16 August 2010, a woman identified as Laxmi Devi (32) along with her three children jumped into a well to commit suicide to escape from hunger at Harlagora village in Bokaro district. Although Laxmi Devi was rescued by the villagers, her three children - two daughters aged 8 and 5 and five-month-old son, Rahul died in the well. The woman attempted to commit suicide as she had nothing to feed her children for the last one week. “There was nothing to feed my children. They had not eaten anything for seven days. When my children sought food, I felt humiliated and decided to commit suicide”, Laxmi told the local media after she was rescued. [20]

Obviously the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) failed to provide employment and food for the rural poor. Corruption and maladministration plagued the NREGS.

After months of struggle for wages, 78 villagers were paid a compensation of Rs 3,000 per person only on 9 August 2010 for their work under NREGS in 2007 and 2008 in Tirla gram panchayat in Khunti district. [21]
In September 2010, it was reported that a sign board put up by the officials announcing completion of a dam and pond for Janardan Yadav of Pagwara village, Saraiyahat block, Dumka district under the NREGS. The project’s code 3411002011 was also mentioned in the sign board. It was executed at an estimated cost of Rs 190,364 by 30 June 2010. But there was no pond, let alone a dam, to be seen around. When the matter was brought to the notice of the administration, it was stated that work was never undertaken, no money was disbursed, that the board was “a mistake”! [22]

Endnotes:
1. State watches as tribe disappears, The Telegraph, 28 July 2010
2 . Diarrhoea, delayed aid snuff out 10 Paharias in Sahebganj, The Telegraph, 3 September 2010
3 . Doctors blamed for tribal deaths, The Telegraph, 6 September 2010
4 . Lip service to land rights act, The Telegraph, 21 August 2010
5 . Gladson Dungdung, “Fake Encounters in Jharkhand”, Mainstream, Vol XLVIII, No 39, September 18, 2010
6 . Ibid
7 . Arjun Munda sworn in as Jharkhand chief minister, The Hindu (Online), 11 September 2010
8 . Maoists kill ‘informer’ near Chowka, The Telegraph, Kolkata, 15 August 2010
9 . Rebels spill blood thrice - Maoist killings in Khunti, ammo found at 2 sites, The Telegraph, 6 September 2010
10 . Maoist bandh claims eight lives, The Hindu, 14 September 2010
11 . Maoists kill two in Jharkhand, The Hindu, 22 September 2010
12 . Night of arson in Ghatshila - Maoists torch equipment being used to construct arterial road, The Telegraph, 19 July 2010
13 . Rebels kidnap road workers, The Telegraph, 27 September 2010
14 . Maoists blow up school building; two held, The Hindustan Times, 9 August 2010
15 . Poor, helpless woman branded ‘witch’, brutally tortured, Merinews.com, 27 August 2010, available at http://www.merinews.com/article/poor-helpless-woman-branded-witch-brutally-tortured/15829391.shtml
16 . Woman branded witch, killed, The Telegraph, Kolkata, 17 August 2010
17 . Witch-hunting takes one life; other critical in Bokaro, The Pioneer, 27 September 2010
18 . Hot rod horror brands children in Jharkhand, The Hindustan Times, 20 April 2010
19 . ACHR’s complaint filed with the NHRC dated 8 October 2010 (ACHR’s Reference No: JH/14/2010)
20 . Three kids die, mother survives hunger-driven suicide, The Hindustan Times, 17 August 2010
21 . REGA workers in Jharkhand compensated for delayed wages, The Hindu, 10 August 2010
22 . This NREG board was a mistake: Jharkhand, The Indian Express, 15 September 2010
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