Violence finger at security forces in Jharkhand
Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, a coalition of human rights bodies, has accused the security forces of unleashing violence on tribals in a village in West Singhbhum and abusing them during a search operation for Maoists last month.
A fact-finding team of the Mahasabha, that had visited the site on Thursday, submitted a memorandum to West Singhbhum deputy commissioner Ananya Mittal on Friday. The team claimed that tribal residents of Chiriyabera tola (hamlet) under Anjedbeda revenue village in Chaibasa Sadar block of West Singhbhum district faced violence and molestation by the security forces on November 11.
“The security forces beat up adivasis (including women), abused a girl with the intention of raping her, and destroyed people’s belongings. The forces entered the house of Noni Kui Jojo, an elderly widow, and flung her belongings around the house. Two jawans held her adolescent daughter Shanti Jojo’s hands and a third jawan molested her. They wanted to drag her towards the bushes but she somehow managed to escape. The jawans then brutally beat up Noni Kui when she refused to let go of her daughter. Shanti Jojo told the factfinding team that the manner in which she was abused clearly indicated the jawans’ intention of raping her,” said Elina Horo, who was part of the team.
“Even minors were assaulted. Bamiya Bahnda, 16, was brought down from a tree and beaten. When his mother Kadma went to rescue him, she was also thrashed. The jawans held Kadma’s hands, kicked her, beat her with a rifle butt and dragged her to her house. They grabbed her hair and swirled her in circles. The jawans destroyed paddy, clothes and utensils kept in houses,” Horo said.
According to local media reports published on November 12, the fact-finding team claimed, there was a combined operation of Cobra 209/205, Jharkhand Jaguar, CRPF battalion and the local police at Chiriyabeda, Lovabeda and Hathiburu, The security forces had defused bombs in forests and recovered Maoist posters, banners and items of daily use.
“However, the media reports did not mention the violence unleashed on the adivasis,” Horo said.
The Mahasabha had in 2020 alleged that the security forces had beaten up the residents of Chiriyabeda with sticks, batons and rifle butts on June 15 that year.
“The victims submitted written applications at many levels but neither has any action been taken against the perpetrators nor have the victims received any compensation. The investigating officer continues to avoid getting the testimony of the victims registered,” claimed Ramesh Jerai, a member of the team and a resident of Chaibasa.
“The inhumane and illegal behaviour of the security forces towards the adivasis during the search operation is wholly against the spirit of the Constitution and democracy. Instead of addressing the gross deprivations faced by the people of these villages, the state repeatedly unleashes brutal violence on them. It is also worrying that security forces are setting up camps in Saranda without the permission of the gram sabha,” Jerai added.
Mittal confirmed receiving the fact-finding team’s letter.
“I have held talks with senior police officials and we will start an investigation into the entire episode. We will also follow up on the 2020 incident,” Mittal added.