The following is an eye-witness report as narrated to Dr.P.M.Antony, Tribal Research & Training Centre, Chaibasa, West Singhbhum, Jharkhand. It relates to alleged instances of police brutality in Sangajata Village of West of Jharkhand.
Sangajata is a village about 23 kilometers from Goilkera block of West Singhbhum district. The villagers had planned a meeting, on April 8 2018, to discuss about pathalgadi in their villages. They had invited the mundas (village headmen) and other important persons of neighbouring villages to come to Sangajata to discuss the matter. They had printed and distributed leaf-lets about the same. However, the administration, especially the police, publicised the proposed meeting as being organised by Naxalites!
The meeting took place on April 8 as planned. On April 9, two groups of CRPF personnel came to the village. One of them caught hold of Mr. Bipin Gope, a villager who was collecting fire wood, and began to beat him up mercilessly asking him, “Where are the Naxalites?” He replied that he did not know anything about them. They kept beating him. When some women saw him being beaten up and they gathered others and approached the CRPF personnel with some sticks, surrounded them and shouted at them. The Jawans fired in the air to frighten the women. The women got frightened and ran back. While one of the women told others to stop and called her co-villagers to stop and see if the force wanted to tell them anything, the force said, “There, she is the leader of Naxalites.”
Then this group of the force went to another direction. Meanwhile, the women and men of the village had gathered in one place; they were filled with anger and fear. They wrote a note on a piece of paper saying, “If you want to talk to us, we are ready to talk.” This note was sent to the force through two women. The note reached the other group of CRPF and they came to talk. However, they started talking about development schemes, such as old age and widow pensions, BPL cards, etc. and they said till now there is no development in the village; and there were many development schemes with the government, etc.
An encounter with Naxalites in a patch of forest between Boroyi and Patung villages on 15th April 2018.
The villagers could hear the sound of exchanging fire between two groups on 15th April 2018. They also agree that there were some Naxalites staying in this patch of forest between Boroyi and Patung villages, near Nakahasa about 8 kilometres from Sangajata. They do not know anything more than this about the encounter between these two groups. However, the manipulation of fact the media (both Hindi and English) was obvious, all the newspaper reports said that the encounter was taking place in Sangajata village; either it was wrong reporting to target Sangajata and there is a proposal to put up a CRPF camp in Sangajata or they did not know the name of the place where the encounter actually happened. Moreover, one thing is very clear: CRPF camps in Adivasi villages have very disastrous consequences.
Arrest of four villagers from Kuida hat (market place at Kuida) on 1st May 2018
Four men, Premsingh Angaria, Junesh Tiu, Sukhram Gope (Village Education Committee Chairman) and Mangal Singh Angaria (Dakua’s son), had gone to Chakradharpur (CKP) and were coming back to their village (Sangajata) on 1st May. On arriving at Kuida, they went to take some rice-beer and some chana. While they were taking these, the police were there in plain clothes; inside the police vehicle, a person was sitting with his face covered. The police came and caught hold of all four of these men and put them inside the vehicle; Mr. Sakal Dev Oraon, the DSP of CKP, (who is said to be acting as the Khalluri of Kolhan) was there in the vehicle; he said, “chalo thana (come let us go to the police station)”; two other police men each took their two motorbikes; they rode the motorcycle to CKP police station and left them there. While they crossed Goilkera police station, Prem Singh asked the police officer, “This is the police station why are you not stopping the vehicle here since you want us to go to the Police station?” He replied, “This place is not good; there will be many reporters here.” The police took them to Sonua, from Sonua to Chakradarpur, to Jhinkpani and to Chaibasa. At CKP, near the railway gate there is a police camp-like place, where they made the four persons sit separately. They began to torture them and to get some clue about the whereabouts of Naxalites. On saying that they did not know anything about their whereabouts, they hit them thoroughly. This torture continued for an hour.
From CKP, two of them, Mangal Singh Angaria and Sukhram Gope, were taken to Chaibasa police station and then put in jail with an FIR filed on them under 17 CLA. They are in Jail now. Nothing has yet been done towards bailing them out.
The other two (Prem Singh and Junesh) were kept in lockup from 1st to 9th June (nine days) at Tonto police station Jhinkpani, near Chaibasa and were released on the ninth day. While all this transpired, the family and the other villagers did not have any information about what had happened to these four men who had gone to CKP on 1st may 2018 and had not returned for several days.
Finally, the villagers contacted the Zila Parishad member from Goilkera Mr. Lakshman Melgandi (mob. 9631840280) and with his help they found out what was going on with the four men of their village and got these two men out of illegal custody of the police. They were told to report once every week at Goilkera police station and at the SP’s office at Chaibasa which is about 45 kilometres from their village. However, their bikes are under police custody, how will they be able to do this reporting at the police station and SP’s office?
Some important points
- There is some valuable mineral in Sangajata and other neighbouring villages;
- There is a plan to set up a CRPF camp in Sangajata village; there have been very disastrous consequences in having a CRPF camps near Adivasi villages;
- The villagers are angry and distressed;
- The police has entered the village without first informing the village-headman as it should be done;
- The two men were kept under police custody without informing the court about it; such activities of the police is unlawful.
The plan of action
We discussed this entire issue with Mr. DN Champia an ex-MLA and former Dep. Speaker of Bihar LA and Mr. Ramesh Jerai of Johar office, Chaibasa. Champiaji has agreed to go and meet the DGP, Kolhan with the Zila Parishad member from Goilkera as soon as possible and to submit a written (formal) complaint to him about these happenings.
[date of above report – 21 May 2018. Names of informants withheld for their safety]