PUCL , February
preliminary fact finding on POTA cases in Jharkhand
an all India team, Delhi
Jharkhand all the laws of the land are replaced by POTA
see, 12-year-old boy arrested under Pota
All India fact-finding team consisting of Hari Singh Tark, President,
Association For Democratic Rights (AFDR), Punjab, G. N. Saibaba, General
Secretary, All India Peoples Resistance Forum (AIPRF), Balbir Singh Saini,
Sr. Advocate at Chandigarh High Court from Haryana, Sashibhushan Pathak,
Secretary, Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL),
Jharkhand and Convener POTA Virodhi Jan Morcha & Anil Sharma, AIPRF,
Delhi, Chayan Sen Gupta, Member, AIPRF, Assam toured several districts
of Jharkhand between 29th January and 3rd Feb., 2003 to collect first
hand information about the POTA accused in Jharkhand.
team visited the following districts: Garhwa, Palamu, Latehar, Gumla,
Hazaribagh, Giridih, Chatara and Ranchi and met about 30 families of the
POTA accused mostly from the interior villages. The team met the Chief
Secretary of Jharkhand Government, the Home Secretary and the DGP apart
from a DSP and SP of Gumla district where the highest number of POTA cases
have been booked compared to all other districts. We had elaborate discussions
with all the officials. We also met a number of organisations, the leaders
and activists of parties like JMM, RJD and CPI and advocates, journalists
and democrats to ascertain and cross check the facts and information we
Indiscriminate Use of POTA
POTA is being indiscriminately used in Jharkhand on ordinary citizens,
mostly illiterate tribals, and Scheduled Caste and OBC sections of the
people. Minors under 18 were booked under POTA. A number of women including
Adivasi Women have been also charged under POTA sections. For example:
Jata Bhuiya (30) from Tikuldiha village in Miral block of Garhwa district
was booked under POTA after a complaint against him was filed by some
of his cousins in a land dispute over a small stretch of land. In fact
it is only a petty civil dispute. Jata Bhuiya and his family have no idea
of any underground organisation or party.
Marandi (20) of Madhuban Mod, near the foot hills of Parasnath Hills in
Giridih district was picked up by the police when he was going for work
Damodar Valley Project as a daily labourer. He was arrested on 18th Oct.
2002, tortured for 3 days in illegal custody and produced in court on
21st October and bailed out on 30th January 2003. The misery and torture
experienced by him and all of his family members speaks for the havoc
created by the POTA on an innocent Adivasi youth who does not even know
the names of the banned organisations under POTA, which for the first
time he heard in the police interrogation and later in jail. Now he has
been cursed to go around the courts facing POTA sections.
site another painful incident of repression against simple villagers
particularly women, a girl Ropni Kharia seventeen years of age of Tira
Toli village in Gumla district under Palkot police station limits was
by the police and slapped POTA. Her only fault was that she is the only
educated women in the village who passed matriculation and is enlightened
on social and other patriarchal oppression in the village. She used to
educate the women of the village on patriarchal oppression on them and
how to resist it. At this some male chauvinist of the village started
feeling worried about her knowledge and activities and started backbiting
and accusing her of being a member of a banned outfit namely MCC. They
informed the police and police searched her home several times but did
not find any documents of banned organisations from her house. The police
also beat her father and other male members of the family. Due to this
continuous repression she surrendered before the police going along with
other members of the family and the villagers. But strangely even after
her surrender she has been implicated under POTA without any concrete
evidence of her involvement with the banned outfits. The police did not
stop at that and are continuing with their brutal repression.
POTA is Creating Panic and Terror in the Villages
the course of our visits to a number of villages, we have come across
a number of youth who have been named in different FIRs under POTA. We
have been reported in almost every village that such and such person is
being already named and he is avoiding arrest for fear of not getting
bail for months or years. We acquired some copies FIRs in which their
names are mentioned. Some more names are being mentioned in the case diaries.
Such people are also making all efforts to avoid arrests. They don't sleep
in their homes. They left their jobs or agricultural work or small business.
Some leave the villages and go to far off towns and pull rickshaws to
eke out a living. Some hide in the nearby forests. Hundreds or even thousands
of families have been suffering as the bread-earners of the families are
not able to look after the families out of fear of arrests under POTA.
Some FIRs mention one main accused and then some names and after that
also mention and other so and so numbers. All the villagers from where
a case is being booked feel the threat of use of POTA any day. People
say that anyone can be picked up any time and can be produced under the
same case. People are panicked and terrorised. They can not sleep. They
can not work. For example, the villagers Batuka in Keredari block in Hazaribagh
district, Jheridih in Dumari block of Giridih.
mention few incidents of torture, repression and arrest by the police,
one Mr. Deo Saran Mahato of village Madheya in Palamu was picked up by
the police at 12p.m. on 18/06/2002 while he was busy feeding the cattle.
The police 150 in number came and gheraoed his house and picked him up
at gun point without even telling the reason for his arrest. When his
wife (Buddhiwati Devi) tried to resist, the police beat her up with the
gun which not only let to the fracture of her hand but also had to misconceive
as she was four months pregnant. The police also took eight thousand rupees
and ransacked everything in the house. Likewise many other villagers were
picked up and slapped POTA without having any concrete evidence of their
involvement in anti-national activities.
many other villagers who were innocent and have nothing to do with any
activities of any banned outfits were booked under POTA. The villagers
are in continuous fear and are traumatised as they never know when and
who will be picked up by the police.
Special Massive Terrorising Operations to Book POTA Cases
Palamu alone we covered eight cases and in Gumla another nine cases. The
people, we found, were running away at the sight and sound of the vehicles
in which we were travelling. This made us curious to know the reason,
to which we found that the people are worried that it might be the police
vehicle and they will be again harassed. In most cases we found that the
people are being vindicated and arrested on charges of being involved
in anti-national activities to which they have no relation. They are simple
and busy villagers struggling for day-to-day survival quest.
Police, Jharkhand Armed Police and CRPF together in 500 numbers according
to the villagers of Khapia, Batuka and Salga cracked down upon these three
villages on 29th Jan. 2002 between 4 A.M. and 12 noon. Houses were smashed.
Rice, wheat reserves were spoilt. Women, children and the old were dragged
out and brutally beaten for hours. Youth were tortured. They surrounded
these villages stealthily from all the four corners. And finally picked
up 13 people including a minor boy of 15 named Shankar Karmali. All 13
were placed under POTA and jailed in Ranchi. An unconfirmed piece of news
reached the villagers when we were talking to them that POTA clauses were
removed on them. Exactly after one year, the villagers hear this news
but did not seem to believe it. Many more names from these villages are
already mentioned in different FIRs.
1st Dec. 2003, the village called Mangal Tilayya in Pirtand block, Giridih
district was ransacked by about 300 heavily armed police forces belonging
Jharkhand Armed Police and the local civil police. Some families were
looted. Hundreds were beaten up and injured. This was shortly after the
arrest of Sanjay Kumar Mehto (26), a school teacher in the village along
with 2 other friends of his. 2-3 year old children were stamped upon and
brutally crushed by the police nder their boots. The old women were also
beaten up. Young women were used in the most vulgar language. Some houses
were looted including Nanki Devi's 66). Only one Kambal (Blanket) which
her only son who is a worker in Mumbai sent to her was stolen by the Daroga.
She madly cried to usesjk dacfeysxk ;k ugh a (??)
youth were named under POTA after this operation. But none is arrested
though continuously the police come to the village to pick them up. Some
left for Mumbai. Others wander outside the village. Two young women have
been also under this list. Some boys came and met us, though the police
camped on the outskirts of the village while we were taking down information
in the village.
Advocate, Journalist, Hotelier, and Munsi Jailed Under POTA
Prakash Bhasin, an Advocate at Daltonganj was arrested from his house
on 28th June 2002. Two revolvers were supposedly recovered by Mr. Anil
Palta, he Palamu SP from his Almari. Shushil's father, a freedom fighter
and wife, a teacher tell us that Mr. Anil Palta himself by forcefully
sending them out from the room searched the only Almirah in the house
purposefully and with a conspiracy. The Advocate is now languishing in
the Ranchi jail.
Sharma, a reporter of Hindustan, a Hindi daily was arrested under POTA
case No. 11/02 SPL from Sadbahini village in Palamu district. His only
fault is that he has been regularly covering on the activities of the
Sahu of Palkot village in Gulma district was arrested on 2nd Feb 2002
under POTA. Some members of the banned organisations used go to take tea
at his small restaurant on the road side.
Family Members, Relatives, Guests Arrested Under POTA
Bhuiya, minor boy of 14, along with two guests/relatives from Badkigaon
in Hazaribagh district, was arrested in the last December. The only mistake
of his was that his father might be working with MCCI. This was not confirmed
by Janki Bhuiya's mother or any other member in his family do not know
if his father is really working in MCCI. But his father has not been coming
home for the last 3 years. His mother was arrested before and jailed for
3 months. Later on, on one terrible dark night the police raided the house
in dozens and picked up Janki Bhuiya (14) and two more relatives belonging
to his mother's side, who came for a courtesy visit and were booked under
POTA. The whole village was terrorised in such a way that his mother and
younger brothers are not even spoken to by their neighbours today. Janki
Bhuiya is a silent sufferer behind the bars under POTA, although the POTA
designated court sent him to a juvenile home after months. The relatives
have also become the victims of POTA. They could not even engage an advocate
to plead their case.
Family Dispute is being Used to Book a POTA Case
family in Getha village in Palamu district had a land dispute. The eldest
brother of the family Narvdeswar Singh was killed. The police used this
murder and dispute to book two of the younger brothers, Krishna Singh,
Anirudh Singh and Anirudh's son Kishore Singh, a student of intermediate
under POTA. In Jharkhand all the laws of the land are replaced by POTA.
These people merit only ordinary criminal case, but not at all POTA, the
extra-ordinary law made supposedly to control Terrorism.
Most of the cases under POTA were booked on innocent, illiterate, poor
Adivasi, Scheduled Caste and Backward caste people in the villages.
The police booked POTA cases to terrorise people.
Cases which only merit sections of ordinary law have been brought under
POTA is politically used by the BJP led Marandi Government to terrorise
and wean away people from all other opposition parties like JMM, and
No terrorist threatening the national integrity is booked under POTA
Jharkhand. No one among the 3 thousand and odd people named under POTA
in less than a year seems to be meriting the POTA clauses as there is
no anti-national among them.
is being used on revolutionaries, their supporters and mostly on the
common villagers from the villages where there exists some influence
of the revolutionary parties like MCC, CPI (ML) (Peoples War) and other
of the families of victims of POTA do not understand what the law is
and not able to arrange advocates.
The cases in which advocates are being arranged also, the poor families
are not able to bear the burden of expenses. They are selling cattle,
houses and small patches of land (those who have) and becoming pauperised
further. The POTA is a burden unimaginable on below the mere subsistence
economy of Jharkhand villages.
After the formation of the new state of Jharkhand, people did not get
any new facility or basic necessity or amenities but one thing that
is POTA is the only gift the people are forced to accept by both the
central and the state
governments led by BJP.
According to the information we could gather:
filed on more than 654
arrested so far 202
Enquiries began to file charge sheet 194
Bailed persons 004
POTA case accused died in jail 004
POTA clauses removed by courts 013
Total no. of persons named under POTA 3,200
All cases so far booked under POTA in Jharkhand should be immediately
reviewed by appointing an appropriate review committee as per clauses
Pending such a review, the Government of Jharkhand should immediately
withdraw POTA and other cases booked on the most obvious innocent persons
who constitute an overwhelming majority of the booked cases under POTA.
Special designated Courts of POTA should be appointed in Gumla and Palamu
districts where the highest number of POTA cases have been registered
whereas now these designated courts are situated only in Ranchi and
Dumka where POTA cases are minimum in number in the state.
The police officials responsible for booking POTA cases on the innocent
villagers should be punished.
All the innocent people booked under POTA and jailed should be compensated
by the Government.
The rest of the cases should be converted to ordinary cases under Cr.P.C.and
other appropriate sections by removing POTA clauses in a phased way
on a number of cases.
arrest warrants on those who are named under different FIRs of POTA
cases should be withdrawn to ease out the tense atmosphere in hundreds
of the team:
All the case registered under POTA in Jharkhand should be withdrawn.
All warrants of arrest under POTA should be immediately withdrawn.
Proper compensation package should be announced for the POTA victims'
The Government of Jharkhand should immediately stop using POTA on all
The movement led by MCCI and CPI(ML) Peoples War and other organisations
in Jharkhand should be treated as a socio-economic question of the Jharkhandi
society and should be dealt with the movement accordingly and not by
using POTA by the Government.
POTA should be withdrawn.
Basic civil amenities like electricity, drinking water, roads, bridges
over rivers and rivulets and health care system should be provided in
the vast rural areas where basic facilities are totally absent.
Fact Finding Team Members:
Hari Singh Tark, President, Association for Democratic Rights
2. Balbir Singh Saini, Sr. Advocate, Chandigarh High Court, Haryana
3. G.N. Saibaba, General Secretary, All India Peoples
Resistance Forum (AIPRF)
Shashi Bhushan Pathak, Secretary, PUCL, Jharkhand and Convenor, PVJM
Anil Sharma, AIPRF, Delhi
Chayan Sen Gupta, AIPRF, Assam
67 A, Rameswar Nagar, Azadpur, Delhi 110033
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