Human Rights Defenders’ Alert India (HRDA) is a Tamil Nadu based Human Rights forum that works towards initiating actions on behalf of Human Rights Defenders under threat or with security concerns. In addition to National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), HRDA India has also appealed to Bihar Human Rights Commission, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders and Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly.
They have recently expressed their concern over the use of force, firing, illegal arrest, threats and intimidation of HRDs in Kaimur district by the Bihar police. The HRDs were attending a two-day peaceful sit-in demonstration at the Birsa Munda Smarak Sthal in front of the forest department office in Kaimur district’s Adhaura block on September 10 and 11, 2020, to press on long-standing demands and protest against the forest department destroying houses in tribal hamlets and digging pits in farmlands during the lockdown.
The HRDA took cognisance of the brutal assault and firing by Bihar Police officials on Kaimur Mukti Morcha Activists were aggrieved over instances of forced eviction of Adivasis from their land in Kaimur district’s Adhaura block since the beginning of the lockdown in March 2020. The organisation has also cited the fact-finding report by a four-member civil society (members of Delhi Solidarity Group and All India Union of Forest Working Persons) that visited Kaimur in the last week of September.
The report provides documentation of several instances of police and paramilitary forces abducting and/ or illegally arresting KMM activists in Kaimur the aftermath of the incident. The complaint further mentions the instance of some HRD’s like Mr. Sipahi Singh and Mr. Ramshakal Singh, both residents of Goiyan village in Dumrawan panchayat and activists of KMM, who were asked to meet the Subdivisional Officer and the Superintendent of Police on September 12, 2020, at around 5.00 PM under the pretext of having a dialogue, but were arrested upon their arrival.
Finally, they have appealed to the NHRC to undertake an independent transparent enquiry into this incident as it believes that the Police officials have violated the freedom to peacefully assemble under Article 19 of the Constitution of India. Depending upon the conclusions reached upon following an independent investigation, they have also requested for direct legal actions against all officials involved in firing and lathi-charge of the peaceful Adivasi protestors.
HRD Alert India has also humbly requested the NHRC to direct the State Government to monetarily compensate all Adivasis who have been subject to state excesses and direct the forest and police officials to not harass, threaten or arrest Adivasis when they venture into forests to pluck tendu leaves (used in bidi-making) and other medicinal plants from the forest for selling them for survival.
On September 30, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) and All India Union of Forest Working Persons (AIUFWP) had also moved NHRC against the illegal firing of Bihar Police Officers on peaceful protesting Kaimur activists and other forest dwelling communities violating their human rights. The findings of the detailed report, co-published by CJP, were released in an online press conference on October 23 by Ms Brinda Karat, Polit Bureau member of the CPI(M) and Vice President of Adivasi Adhikar Rashtriya Manch.
Since March 2020, the forest department officials of Adhaura block, Bhabua subdivision, Kaimur District, Bihar have been employing means such as encroaching upon agricultural lands of the Adivasi people with the intention of evicting them from their villages.
These villages include: Gulu, Goiya, Dighar, Bahabar, Pipra, Sodha, Bahera, Dumrava, Sarainar. In Sarainar, they allegedly destroyed 50 houses of the Agariya Adivasi villagers in a bid to evict them. When the aggrieved Adivasis decided to mobilise themselves to protest against this, they were met by bullets and lathis.
The entire HRDA India complaint may be read here:
CJP-AIUFWP move NHRC against firing on peaceful Adivasi protesters in Kaimur
Kaimur Firing: Fact-finding report released
Kaimur firing: Fact-finding report makes startling revelations!
Bihar Govt has worst record on Land Rights to Adivasis: Brinda Karat