Villagers of Giridih District Say No to Para-Military Camps: A Fact-Finding Report

Villagers here have been staging massive protests against this decision.

Image courtesy: Deepak Bara

On March 5 and 6,  2021 a human rights fact-finding team of Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisations (CDRO) and Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) visited three police station areas of the Giridih district – Madhuvan, Dumri and Pirtand. The central government has decided to set up para – military camps in these regions. Villagers here have been staging massive protests against this decision. The team met these villagers. 

According to several media reports of the country in December 2020 and January 2021 many CRPF camps are under construction in Giridih district, which the villagers here are strongly opposing. There has also been a confrontation between the villagers and the administration over this issue and many have been arrested and FIRs have been registered on several people. This region is rich in natural and mineral resources. The predominant population in the hilly terrain  is of Adivasis. 

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The Adivasi’s right to forest, land and traditional governance systems have been ignored by the government from the beginning. Till date, individual and community claim papers have not been granted under the Forest Rights Act 2006. Also, there is no means of employment for the local residents residing here. Medical and education of quality is absent. The lives of these people, who are facing economic, culture and social problems, were made to heel – when the police and CRPF started the campaign against Naxalites in this area. People say that they do not know why the government is running this kind of repression on the innocent tribal villagers here, due to which they and the coming generation will have to live a life of constant fear and terror. The fact-finding team received information from villagers, including women and children from a total of 16 villages in Chingiapahari, Tesfuli, Bariarpur, Jeetpur, Banpura, Karipahari, Belathan and Taratand areas.

Findings of fact-finding team

Rape – A case of rape by security forces was reported in Tesaphuli.

Sexual Harassment – 7 minor girls were sexually abused by security forces in Banpura.

Fake Encounter – A labourer was killed in a fake encounter in Dolkatta.

Custodial Death – A resident of Jharha village in Pirtand police station area was murdered in police custody. It is to be known that this person’s hotel was adjacent to the Pirtand police station where the security personnel visited regularly for tea and breakfast.

Custodial torture – Two youths from Taratand village were detained by the police and beaten up in SP Office, Giridih in an inhuman manner.

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The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (MGNREGA) worker of Kariphari village was brutally beaten up by the police in custody. Mobiles, bikes, bank passbooks and muster rolls of 15 MNREGA personnel were snatched by the police. Due to this incident, these workers have not been able to get 2 weeks salary till date.

Image courtesy: Deepak Bara

Cases of assault on women, children and innocent villagers were reported in almost all the villages. The houses of some villagers have also been ransacked. In between, the security forces have raided people’s homes both during the day and night. There have also been incidents of looting money and jewellery from homes. Often, crops and grains kept in homes are also destroyed during raids. There are no female police officers in this type of raids and almost during every raid, women are molested and abused.

Fake cases on innocent villagers – six people are still in jail in fake cases; There have been fake cases against two unknown people but no arrests have been made so far; and one person was sent to jail in a fake case who is currently out on bail. The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and Criminal Law Amendment Act (CLA) have been misused in these places and innocent villagers have been oppressed and this has created an atmosphere of fear amongst the villagers.

A shocking case has also come to light where a vegetable-seller in front of the Pirtand police station used to give vegetables to the police personnel on credit. When he asked for his money, the police station in-charge immediately levied a false UAPA case against the vegetable-seller. He was sent to jail and is currently out on bail.

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The fact-finding team has found that the villagers are widely opposed to setting up of the CRPF camps keeping in mind the persecution that has been perpetrated by the security forces. They say that the government is using their money to exploit them. The villagers are demanding hospitals, schools, employment and development instead of the security camps. Villagers also reported that the CRPF has forcibly built a camp in their traditional places of worship. Despite being the fifth scheduled area, permission has not been taken from the Gram Sabha to set up camp. The victims do not get any kind of legal aid in the area. Any kind of forest rights of the villagers living in the forests here, whether it is cutting firewood or picking fruits and flowers or hunting small animals has been stopped because of security forces.

Apart from these cases, laborers in Madhuvan are also facing severe hardships. The workers say that earlier there used to be a union of labourers. The union ran hospitals to provide free treatment to all people and safeguarded their labour rights. But the union was banned by levelling false charges against them and to benefit the outsiders and exploit the local laborers. Today, all places are discussing payment of lower wages to the labourers in all places. 21 workers of a Dharamshala are sitting on a strike regarding this issue. These workers are being expelled from their jobs and have no social security.

A cultural organisation of Giridih, Jharkhandi Aven was also banned by the government. This organization used to spread awareness about the dowry system, witch-hunting, superstition, education, etc. through its songs and plays. Today, many cultural workers are prosecuted in false cases and many are arrested.

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Demands of the fact-finding team from the government:

  1. All innocent villagers prosecuted under false charges should be immediately withdrawn and they must be released unconditionally.
  2. The violence against those detained should be stopped immediately. The custodial death should be investigated by the independent agency according to the directions given by the Supreme Court and the National Human Rights Commission.
  3. Being a signatory to the United Nations Declaration on Social Progress and Development, the government must fulfil its obligations towards community development.
  4. Under the Forest Rights Act, the government should immediately fulfill the community rights of the people on the forest.
  5. In a 5th schedule area, no work should be done without the consent of the Gram Sabha and government must follow the provision of PESA law.
  6. All the victims must be given free legal aid.
  7. Justice D.K.Base guidelines must be followed strictly.

 

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