PUCL Bulletin, Feb., 2001

Police terror in the adivasi community in Kevadia

Atmosphere of panic and uncertainty prevails in the poor Adivasi community in Kevadia as well as villages surrounding the place. There is a strong feeling that any moment police jeeps may arrive and pick up any tribal and subject him to torture in the police custody. A PUCL team consisting of Dhiru Mistry, Shobha Shah, and Mansur Saleri visited Kevadia Colony, Rajpipla, and Dediapada on 17th October. It met Mr. Rajkumar, The District Superintendent of Police of Narmada District. His response was that the police had reports about the possibility of Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Ms Medha Patkar coming there and holding a massive rally to protest against the ongoing construction of Sardar Sarovar Project.

Mr. Rajkumar denied reports as baseless that police was inflicting third degree methods on those detained by them. According to the sources close to NBA one Kishor Minj and two other adivasis from Dediapada, namely Kandiyabhai and Somabhai were picked up by police late last week and were subjected to physical and mental torture in order to extract information if Medha Patkar was to visit the place. These detained pleaded ignorance about any such programme.

Kishor Minj is a tribal from Mangalore and has been carrying on research about Narmada Dam and allied issues. He told the PUCL team that he is not a part of NBA stir that he was picked up on 13th October at 7.45 in the evening and was kept under police custody up to 2 o'clock next morning. He was abused and grilled and pounded with cane first by police Inspector and then by DSP Mr. Rajkumar.

Similarly, Kandiyabhai and Somabhai from Dediapada were detained and tortured and beaten up for allegedly encroaching government. land for cultivation purpose. They were booked under IPC and produced before Valia court after four days. As the two tribals were detained their bullocks were confiscated and were handed over to a watchman for custody. The DSP, when asked about the safety of the bullocks under the care of watchman, could not offer any convincing reason for putting the animals under chowkidar's care nor could he furnish any legal ground for the action. This type of rash detention of innocent tribals has spread a sense of fear among tribals. Often policepersons were noticed shadowing tribal women.

The District Forest Officer (DFO) Mr. Sanjiv Tyagi, when contacted, told the team that as far as he was concerned no tribal was unduly harassed, beaten, or tortured by forest officials. On the other hand he saw to it that tribals were able to move freely without fear.

The PUCL demands that the Government should see to it that the poor tribals of the State were assured a sense of security and protected from torture from various authorities under any pretext. Their civil liberties and human right must be protected at any cost

-Dhiru Mistry, Secretary, Vadodara (PUCL), 19th October 2000

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