Asian Centre for Human Rights

Dedicated to promotion and protection of human rights in Asia



I. Overview

Ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party, Jharkhand has become infamous for abusing the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002. Jharkhand, which faces low intensity conflict with the Naxalites, had more detainees under POTA than Jammu and Kashmir, the central focus of India’s war against terror. Though about 145 POTA detainees involved in 59 were released in June 2004 because of the lack of sheer evidence, many of the released POTA detainees continued to remain in prison under various offences filed under normal laws like the Criminal Procedure Code and Indian Penal Code. Many were too poor to pay the bail bond money and have little access to legal aid. However, those police personnel who had abused POTA have been given complete impunity.  Hundreds of people continued to remain in the First Information Reports filed under the POTA.

On 20 June 2004, the People’s War Group (PWG) in response to Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda’s call for dialogue on 12 June 2004, offered to hold peace talks with the government. The PWG put forth nine conditions including immediate withdrawal of paramilitary forces from Naxal-infested areas, probe into cases of fake encounters and action against guilty police officials, withdrawal of the POTA and lifting ban on the outfit. [1] However, Jharkhand government did not respond positively and no talks were held at the end of 2004. On 7 November 2004, the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) and PWG reportedly merged into a single group - Communist Party of India (Maoists). [2] The PWG is reportedly active in 18 out of the 22 districts. Nearly 495 persons including 188 policemen have been killed in the Naxalite related violence since the creation of the state in November 2000. [3]

The security forces have been responsible for serious human rights violations while countering the Naxalites. The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) in its inquiry report released in May 2004 held the members of the Nagarik Suraksha Samiti (NSS), a counter insurgency group floated by the police, responsible for lynching to death of about 13 alleged activists of the Naxalites at Longo in Dumuria block in East Singhbhum district between 7 and 22 August 2003. The PUCL alleged that district police and the NSS members continued to harass innocent villagers accusing them of being Naxalite sympathisers. [4] There were reports of torture and arbitrary deprivation of the right to life in 2004. [5]

Jharkhand, the heartland of India’s indigenous peoples, registered sharp decline of the percentage of Adivasis. The State government recommended inclusion of the Kurmis, presently considered as upper Caste Hindus, into “Scheduled Tribes” list [6] which evoked vehement protest. [7]

The Adivasis have been disproportionate victims of displacement by development projects, land alienation and extreme poverty.

[1] . PWG proposes talks, Munda still cautious, The Indian Express, 21 June 2004

[2] . Police a mute spectator to MCC-PWG merger, The Pioneer, 11 November 2004

[3] . PWG offers conditional talks with Jharkhand Govt, The Pioneer, 21 June 2004

[4] . Human rights jab at cops, NSS, The Telegraph, 10 July 2004

[5] . Rights rap on Longo rebel-hunters, The Telegraph, 12 May 2004

[6] . Inclusion of Kurmis in ST list causes dispute in Jharkhand, The Deccan Herald, 2 December 2004

[7] . 48-hour chakka jaam in Jharkhand, The Deccan Herald, 18 December 2004