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Fact Finding Report: Sexual Violence on Women in the Context of Anti-Maoist Operations in Jharkhand

Posted by Admin on August 19, 2011

Fact Finding Report Sexual Violence on Women in the Context of Anti-Maoist Operations in JharkhandTo Download Fact finding Report click on the image

Sexual Violence on Women in the Context of Anti-Maoist  Operations in Jharkhand

A Fact Finding Report by Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS)

May 2011

Suggested contribution: Rs. 25.00

 

Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) is a non funded grassroots effort started in November 2009, to put an end to the violence being perpetrated upon our bodies and societies. We are a nationwide network of women from diverse political and social movements comprising of women’s organizations, mass organizations, civil liberty organizations, student and youth organizations, mass movements and individuals. We unequivocally condemn state repression and sexual violence on our women and girls by any perpetrator (s).

Email: againstsexualviolence@gmail.com

Contents

Background

Introduction to the current investigation

I Arrest of three minor school girls in Khunti district, presenting them as women Maoists, and detention under UAPA, Arms Act, Explosives Act

II Kandrakuti and Raijama Village, Block Kharsawan, Saraikela Kharsawan

III The investigation of two teenage girls alleging rape by the Maoists

IV General Issues and Concerns regarding

situation of women in conflict areas

 

BACKGROUND

Jharkhand, carved out of Bihar, became the 28th State of India on 15th November 2000. Jharkhand means land of forests and true to its name, the State is replete with natural resources and is home to 30 scheduled tribal groups like Mundas, Oraons, Hos, Santhals, and 9 most vulnerable tribes, or as the official term goes Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs). In fact, Jharkhand registers an Adivasi population of 26.3% and Dalit

population of 11.8%. It is however a tragedy that today only 20.4% of the total area of the state is under forest cover, and much of that too are secondary forests with only a miniscule area remaining as virgin forests.

The above denudation of forests and acquisition of vast tracts of fertile land is the result of speeding up of industrialization process initiated in colonial India and extended with great zeal in post-colonial India. This was further scaled up in a rampant manner with the advent of New Economic Policy in the 1990s. Every state opened its economy to

Indian and foreign industrial agencies whose only purpose was to engage in extractive industrialization without any regard to rights of the tribal population. Like in the states of Orissa and Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand launched a similar drive through its ‘Jharkhand Vision 2010’ and ‘Jharkhand Industrial Policy’. Since then the tribal people’s lands and

forests have been under attack from companies and their agents, for land, forests and the great mineral wealth lying under these. Between 2006 and 2008 the State Government has signed 66 Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) under which from the many companies vying for land and mines, Jindal Steel gets 3000 acres and Tata Steel 25,500 acres. According to Human Rights Law Network, as of 2011,

Jharkhand Government has pledged away 84,340 acres for mining and industrial units in 14 of its 24 districts (see Annexure I).While the Government has been facilitating acquisition of land for corporates, it has failed miserably to protect its people’s interests and rights. As a result in the last few years, Jharkhand has been a strong upsurge of tribal and peoples resistance movements against this.

A study1 of land acquisition drive in five sample districts of Jharkhand reveals that the land acquisition drive has left more than 8.2 lakh persons displaced of which 85% are tribals.

* Of 1035 land acquisition notifications, people under 81 projects got one eviction notification while people under 840 projects got two notifications meaning that these people were evicted twice.

* Of 1035 notifications, in 96 projects land was acquired under Land Acquisition Act 1894 and its amended version of 1984 while in 937 projects land was acquired under Forest Acts of 1846, 1894, 1927 and 1946.

* As per Government documents, total land acquired for 14 different kinds of projects is 549776.15 acres. Highest acquisition is for water resource projects (390280.83 ac) followed by industrial projects (90244.32 ac) and environment protection (48058.69 ac) while it is the lowest for Government offices (81.66 ac).

*Of the total 549776.15 acres, private land acquisition was highest (415983.2 ac). Followed by forest land (63818.77 ac)

As a further develpment, the Operation Green Hunt was launched in Jharkhand in March 2010 and in August 2010 about 12,000 CRPF personnel had been deployed for anti-Naxal operations (www.igovernment.in/site/crpf-jharkhand). In March the security forces decided to extend Operation Green Hunt against Left Wing Extremists

(LWEs) to 4 districts of Jharkhand bordering West Bengal and Orissa. It is important to note that Jharkhand trails in all human development indicators like literacy and health, the most startling being that anemia amongst rural women is as high as 73.8% as compared to the national figure of 58.2%. Almost half of the women in rural areas have a below normal body mass index (BMI) that is below normal (18.5) pointing to high levels of under-nutrition. And it is this population that is now, in addition to the struggles of life and livelihood, pitted against rapid corporatisation and state interventions like the Operation Greenhunt.

Introduction to the current investigation

There have been several reports/ allegations of police and other security forces inflicting brutal violence on villagers during their anti-Maoist operations in areas under Operation Greenhunt, including rape and sexual violence against women, which rarely, if at all, get reported. To give just one instance: an earlier investigation by WSS revealed the case of a 17-year old from Gajapati, Orissa, who was picked up during a combing operation in February 2010 and subjected to gang-rape and is languishing till date in jail. In a pilot visit to Jharkhand we were told of news reports of rape by security forces in Jharkhand in some areas where there was large deployment of security forces, which had not been sufficiently investigated.

At the same time in March 2010 there were news reports from Jharkhand of a young Maoist woman being raped by Maoists and then shot at when she filed a complaint (Teen girl who alleges rape by Maoist shot at – The Times of India,  http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/

Teen-girl-who-alleges-rape-by-Maoist-shot-at/articleshow/5645977.cms#ixzz1DFgYp4uP). In May 2010 there were news reports of rape by Maoists of a surrendered female Maoist cadre, who was in police custody (http://www.indianexpress.com/news/girl-rapedfor-leaving-Maoist-ranks/613829/).

Several WSS members strongly felt that there should be an objective investigation into these reports. While we are well aware that the state and the media tend to turn the story of many women who are arrested as a source of information of sexual violence against women within the cadre, we are keen to make sure that we do not dismiss it entirely but investigate and see for ourlelves the context in which this happens. We assume women are prone to violence in conflict situations by the state, police and army, but also in the various other situations that conflicts impose on their life, safety and mobility. And we assume that this can happen within organisations or mass movements. But given the atmosphere of conflict, intense repression, intimidation and misinformation, we felt that such news needed to be investigated. It is against this background that a team of women visited Jharkhand from 12th to 16th November 2010. The objective was (i) to look into above mentioned specific news reports of rape; and (ii) to get an understanding of the overall situation of women in the Operation Green Hunt areas of Jharkhand, with specific attention to sexual violence. On 11th November, in Ranchi, we heard of the arrest on 30th October of three minor school-girls from an encounter site in Khunti district, presented in media as women Maoists and hardcore Naxalites (news report in Annexure 2.) The team decided to first look into these arrests. This report is in four sections. Section I reports arrest of the three minor school girls in Khunti district, the action initiated by WSS by lodging a complaint with National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), and subsequent release of the girls in January 2011. Section II describes the facts and issues around violence on women during search / combing operations by security forces. Section III reports the investigation into the news reports of the two incidents of alleged rape by Maoists. Section IV raises some concerns and issues relating to the situation of women in areas of conflict.

I

Arrest of three minor school girls in Khunti district, presenting them as women Maoists, and detention under UAPA, Arms Act, Explosives Act

 

On 30th October 2010 three adolescent school-going girls were arrested by the police during an alleged encounter with a Maoist squad in the forest near Eeti village, Khunti, and presented before the media as

‘hardcore Naxal women’. The three girls were later presented in court as adults and remanded to judicial custody.

I. We learnt of this arrest on 11th November, when we were in Ranchi as part of a larger fact finding into incidents of violence against women in Jharkhand as part of Operation Green Hunt, as well as press

reports of rapes by Maoists. A press conference had been held by the Superintendent of Police (SP), Khunti at the police station on 30th October, where the four persons were produced (a video recording of

the press conference was given to us by local journalists). Two team members met the parents of one of the arrested girls (Juliani) when they (the parents) had come to Ranchi on 11th to meet the DIG, Police.

They were marginal farmers from Ulihatu, a village that is about 20 kilometers from the main road. It is well-known as the village of Birsa Munda. Their daughter, Juliani, was studying in Murhu, on the outskirts of Khunti, a district town 40 kilometers from Ranchi. The two spoke very little Hindi and conversed mostly in Mundiyari. They said that they had heard of the arrest only when it started appearing in the news. The police had not informed them and they had not been present when

the girls were presented before the magistrate. In fact they did not even know whether the girls were presented in court at all, whether an First Information Report (FIR) had been filed etc. They only knew that at that moment their daughter was in Khunti jail. They were very distressed and had been running from pillar to post. It was with the help of a journalist following the case and a school teacher and her husband that they had got come to meet the DIG Police Ranchi. The school teacher of the girl, who was much disturbed by the arrest, had come to vouch for the girl’s innocence and to protest against the wrongful arrest since the girl was a juvenile and not an adult. They said that she was 13 and half years old. The mother was also very worried because they hadbeen informed by the journalist that he had seen their daughter wrapped up in a blanket and was very ill; and that she was taken to the hospital before being sent to jail.

When asked why their daughter was picked up and under what circumstances, they said, “Our daughter had gone to see a hockey match with two friends, Jasmani and Magdali. Magdali had relatives in that village and so the girls went for mehamani (as guests). They were picked up by police from those people’s house”. The DIG heard the parents and said they should give a written application and he would

look into the matter.

II. The team decided to visit Khunti and village Eeti, from where the girls were reported to have been picked up. On the 12th evening the team met local reporters and townspeople in Khunti town, and

visited the village on the 13th.

According to two local reporters we spoke to on 12th evening, the three girls, Jasmani, Magdali and Juliani were from three different surrounding villages. They were living in Khunti town in rented

accommodation (dera in local parlance) and attending school there; all were in class eight. Two of them – Juliani and Jasmani – stayed together, while the third Magdali stayed with her younger brother. They told us that all three were below 18 years of age, as per the school records which they had checked. On 29th October the girls had gone to watch a hockey match during the ongoing hockey tournament (25.10.10 to 1.11.10) in nearby Sarvada village and then stayed with Paulose in Eeti village, who was the brother-in-law of Magdali Soy. They were picked up the following day by the police.

OBSERVATIONS AND CONCERNS

* If there were strong indications that the girls were minors and were arrested as adults, then in itself the arrest was wrong and a clear violation of the Juvenile Justice Act. At the time of the arrest and before they were produced in court police made no attempt to verify their age. This could have been done since they studied in schools very close to the thana in Khunti.

*The fact that even after ten days of the arrest, no immediate action was taken even by the DIG, and even when there were witnesses vouching for the fact that the girl was a school student, and when verification of age could be done immediately through school records.

* According to the DK Basu Guidelines the police needs to inform the family members of any one they arrest as soon as possible, within 8 to 10 hours. But this had not been done.

* The same guidelines also stipulate that the arrest memo is to be attested by either a family member of the arrested or a trusted member of the community. This had not been done.

 

 

 

Police Version (from SP’s Press Conference Footage and FIR/Self Statement of Officer who made the arrest)

At the press conference on 30th October the SP reported that that morning they received information about presence of Naxalites in the area (Panghu P.S.), to plan land-mining or some major operation. A

team of policemen went there around 10.30 AM, and there was an  exchange of fire in the forests near Eeti-Pangura villages, wherein the police fired 53 rounds while the Naxalites fired more than 100 rounds. Several items were recovered: cartridges, explosives, and a bag, and above-mentioned four people were arrested from a spot.

The self-statement of the officer-in-charge (O/C) Murhu P.S. recorded on 30th October gives more details of the incident. According to this statement written in Gudukocha forests near Eeti village, on the morning of 30th October when he was at the police station he received secret information that an armed group of 10-15 MCC cadres including some women, all belonging to the Kundan Pahan group, were in the area, planning to lay land-mines in the road under Murhu thana area and conduct some major operation. Paulose Purti of Eeti village was sheltering them and was also active himself. After recording this in the thana diary a team was constituted to verify this and take necessary action, and this team of 10 armed police left for Eeti village.

“Around 9.00 A.M. when we were proceeding north from Baredih tola, making enquiries along the way, we saw some people move ahead of us. As we moved quickly towards them, there was firing at us. About 14-15 people were firing at us, of which about 10 were in black and there were some women too. We immediately took safe positions and loudly warned them that we were policemen and that they should surrender. However, they continued to fire at us, at which we also fired back, after I told my men to observe controlled firing for selfdefence. When we started firing, they slowly started retreating into the forests behind them. There was intermittent firing from both sides for nearly an hour. In the meanwhile more police support reached us. On seeing more armed police arrive the ‘ugravadis’ fled into the jungle. With the support of the armed police search operation was undertaken. During this search the above mentioned four people were found hiding. On questioning they said that they belonged to the MCC (Maoists) Kundan Pahan group; and that they had come to that area ‘to expand their activities, to put pressure on the police, and to conduct some major operation there to place land-mines on

roads; they also had to kill some person. After this encounter 11 people (names of 6 given) of their group ran away. That Paulose Purti, brother-in-law of ugravadi Vishwas Mundu, gave us shelter and food’. As there was no independent witness available in the jungle, two of the armed police personnel were made witness to the arrest and search of Paulose Purti. The following items were found on him: (i) from the left pocket of his half pant seven live cartridges of INSAS rifles; (these cartridges were of prohibited bore); and (ii) 28 packets of Power Gel explosives from his shoulder bag. Paulose could not produce any papers, nor gave any satisfactory reply, in connection with the possession of these cartridges and

explosives. On contrary, he said that they were going to use the explosives for land mining. Clearly, they were possessing arms illegally; hence these items were confiscated from them in presence of the two witnesses. A copy of the list of confiscated items was given to Paulose and his signature taken. The four of them were arrested on charges of possessing illegal arms after making the arrest warrant as per procedure. In this encounter the ugravadis fired 150 rounds while the police fired 53 rounds from INSAS rifles. It is my contention that the above four arrested people and those who escaped had been set by the banned MCC (Maoists) to obstruct official tasks of the police, and to fire upon us with the intention to kill. Further they were in possession of prohibited cartridges and explosives. Therefore, I am charging Paulose Purti, Jasmani alias Phulmani Soy, Juliani Purti, Mariam alias Magdali Mundu, Vishwas Mundu, Nirmal Soy, Aamuru Soy, Marthal Mundu, Neeraj, Krish and five unnamed persons, under Sections 147/148/149/ 353/307 of IPC, 25[1A] /26(2)/27 of Arms Act, 3/4 of Explosive Substances Act, and 10/20/19/38 of UAP Act 1967 amended in 2008 and submitting self-statement (swabayan)”.

The Version From Village Visit

On 13th morning in Eeti village we met Karuna, wife of the arrested Paulose Purti in her hut. According to her, Paulose was chopping wood  in the school (there is a school in the village about a kilometer away)

when he was taken away by the police. When asked about the three girls, she said that she was not at home when they came to her house. Karuna had gone to police station the day after they were arrested

(31st, Sunday), and once again later to meet Paulose. She says the first time she could not meet her husband neither was she told why her husband was picked up. She did not have papers with her regarding Paulose’s arrest, what the charges were etc. We met the members of the house from where the girls were supposed to have been picked up. It was the house of three brothers – Isaac Samad, Paulose Samad, and Marshal Samad. Their wife told us that the girls were brought to their house by Paulose Purti. And they were staying with them. They were helping in the cooking, when they were picked up from the house.

The men told us that on the day of this incident they were working in the fields, and they heard some firing. Soon after that the police fell upon them and started beating them up because they could not tell the names of the girls. The police was asking for Paulose, and as one of them bore the name Paulose he was beaten up. They were then taken away by the police along with the girls and Paulose Purti to police station on 30th. One of them was beaten up at police station too; the three were let off on 1st November. According to them a hockey match was going on in the village and the three girls had come to their house on Friday 29th and said they would spend the night there (‘mehmani karne aaye’), and so they let them stay on; police came and arrested them the following morning. We were told that Paulose Purti had brought these girls.

The girls were all in the hut with the family when they heard some firing in the forest. It was after the firing the police arrived to pick up the girls. They also reported that at the same time a relative of theirs, who was a hockey player participating in the tournament, was staying in their house. His bag and the purses of the men of the house were taken away by the police. The police also took some of their implements like spade, axe, etc. On talking to other people in the village too, it was confirmed that

the police had seized things from peoples’ houses during search but was showing completely different things in their seizure report. No proper panchanama or seizure list was made of any of the objects

seized from the village. The villagers were themselves making a list of all the items that had been taken by the police to be submitted to the police.

OBSERVATIONS AND CONCERNS

This version clearly contradicts the police report. While the police version says that the three girls were picked up from the site of the alleged encounter in the forest, talking to this family and others indicates that they were picked up from the village. If the police found Paulose and the girls in the forest during the encounter with the maovaadis, then why were they looking for Paulose in the village, and why did they pick up the other man named Paulose and his brothers too?

 

Meeting with SP, School Teachers and Hospital Staff on 18th November

The team visited Khunti again on 18th November, along with two members of PUCL-Jharkhand. The girls were still in jail, and we were informed that after the first visit of the team on 11th, electronic media had been highlighting the issue of the girls being minors.

Two of the team members verified the details later with the respective  schools and talked to some teachers. We met teachers of Jasmani and Juliani. They vouched that they attended school regularly and were not absent for long periods. There were no indications of engagement with a lot of activity outside school. Jasmani, the oldest among the three, was described both by her headmistress and class teacher as an obedient and hardworking child. She was also described as a child who was “slow” in understanding things. She was the one who did most of the work for the teachers and there was nothing in her behavior that verify the allegation that she would be involved in any activity that demanded too much of her attention. The teacher said they could not imagine her being involved in the activities that she was being charged with. The teachers said they got to know about the arrest of the girls only after it

was flashed in the news and their name started floating in town. On being asked if the schools took any action on behalf of the students they said they had not done so. The school on its own did not take up

the issue of the students being minors. They also informed us that the police had come that very morning (18th Nov) and taken photocopies of the school records.

Visit to Government Hospital Khunti

On meeting with the hospital staff and checking the hospital records we found that at the time of their arrest Juliani was very ill and was admitted to the hospital that evening with malarial fever. According to

hospital records (in-patient register entry) she was thirteen and half years of age. She was ill and very scared. Nurses who we spoke to said though the girl was very scared and ill she did not have any physical

injuries. She was extremely frightened by her arrest and all the parading by the police. They also said she informed them of the age that was entered in the hospital register, and that she was a student of St Mary’s School. They also said that by that time everyone knew that they were students from schools in Murhu.

Meeting with SP, Khunti

The SP denied he had any information or inkling at the time of the arrest that they were minors. When asked why he did not verify the ages of the girls he said it was not his job. He confirmed that one girl

was ill and had been admitted for a night in the hospital after the arrest.

When the team asked him why nothing had been done so far (till 18th November), now that everyone, including the police knew that they were school girls, he said they were waiting for the parents. When asked whether the police had informed the parents, he said it was not his job. According to him police was not expected to inform the family; and moreover the villages where the family lived were very remote villages, and that they would have to go in there with adequate security forces. When told about the D.K. Basu guidelines, the SP finally conceded that they would send information through the village chowkidar. The SP also told us – “In the past week your team and the news channels were raising this issue” and that police was looking at it. He said a DSP had investigated the issue and taken the school records that morning (18th November) to the court but the judge had turned it down saying it was a judicial matter now.

The SP informed us that the judge had said that the girls had also given their ages as 18 and 19. And therefore now only if the parents were to give an application to the court they would be sent for a bone test.

Version of Three Arrested Girls

The girls told one of the members, a Ranchi-based lawyer, who met them on 22nd November that they reported their ages as above 18 as the police told them to do so – they were told that they would be

shifted to Ranchi if they said they were below 18. Hence there seems to be a false reporting of age by the three girls under pressure. The SP himself in his talk with us said that it was quite possible that even the

youngest girl Juliani, who clearly is and looks a child, also must have told the judge that she was 18 or above for fear that she would be separated from the other girls and be sent to Ranchi.

The girls said that they had gone to Eeti to watch the hockey match. They reached Eeti on 29th October, at 4:00 PM in the evening. The three of them had come to visit Paulose and his wife, who was a relative of one of the girls. They were arrested from the house on 30th October at about 10:00 AM. The girls state that the police beat them up in the house, and questioned them if they were Maoists. Despite their

desperate pleas that they were not Maoists, and that they were school going girls and had come to Eeti to watch the match, police arrested them. At the police station the police told them that if they said they

were below 18 they would be sent to Ranchi and hence it was best to say they were above 18.

OBSERVATIONS AND CONCERNS

* The girls had given their full addresses and also this could have been easily confirmed from the school. Yet, the parents of two girls had not been informed by the police till the 18th November when the team met the SP regarding the arrests. This is in clear violation of the DK Basu guidelines, and it was very important that the parents be informed considering that the girls were minors.

 

* Further, according to him the police recorded their ages as above 18 as they looked like adults and hence no efforts were made to ascertain their correct age. While even the hospital records show Juliani’s age as 13 and a half. It has to be noted that it was the police that had admitted her in the hospital. Therefore they were aware of her age.

 

III. On 14th December 2010 two WSS members met the Chairperson, National  commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) Delhi, apprised her of the case and filed a complaint . Based on this complaint NCPCR issued a letter to the District Collector and other concerned officials. The SP was summoned by the NCPCR to which he sent in a written reply in February 2011. (Annexure III)

 

The demands to the NCPCR were: Given the above facts and circumstances, Women Against Sexual

Violence and State Repression, would like the NCPCR to:

1. Investigate why the girls were shown to be above 18 and not sent to the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB). NCPCR should meet the children and investigate the matter in Eeti and Murhu PS.

2. Intervene in and expedite the process of transferring the three girls from Khunti jail to the charge of the JJB.

3. The police should be held accountable for arresting these girls as adults and not following the procedures as per DK Basu guidelines as well as Juvenile Justice Act (JJA).

4. Undertake an inquiry into the very arrest of the girls and charging them with Sec 302 and such draconian laws such as the UAPA, and Arms and Explosives Act.

5. In the absence of any strong evidence linking the girls to the crimes they have been charged with, the charges should be dropped and the girls released and united with their families.

6. Review status of implementation of the JJA, especially in the current situtation where there was an intensification of Operation Green Hunt in several districts of Jharkhand.

IV. The police did not press any charges against the three girls, when the charges were finally framed in the case on the 3rd January. The girls were finally released on 3rd January, after having spent over two months in jail.

 

On 19th January two of the team members met the three girls again after their release. The girls had all just rejoined their schools, and we met with them in their respective schools. The girls spoke of the trauma that they had undergone. All three reported that they were badly beaten by the police (all male police) at the time that they were picked up in the village. They kept asking them to admit that they

were Maovaadis, while the girls denied it. In the thana two of the girls were taken up to the terrace, while the youngest one was tied up in the room downstairs. They were again beaten with batons by

male police on their hips and buttocks. They had injuries which lasted for many days and it was difficult to even sit in that period. ‘The marks have gone only now’, they said. Even more serious is

the fact that police kept pointing guns at their chests and threatened to shoot them if they did not confess. ‘We kept crying and said we did not know anything’.

 

They stayed at home after they were released, and two of the girls said that they had thought of giving up their studies because of what had happened. But in both cases the parents had been encouraging and

had insisted that they go back to school. One girl had found it difficult to find a dera (place to stay) when she came back, and for the time being she had been accommodated with her relative. Another one was

shifted out of the dera that she was staying in with the other girl and was now with her grandmother. Her family was planning to shift her to a hostel in the new school session. We were also able to meet guardians of one of the girls. It was extremely heartening to know that the parents were quite supportive of the girls and have had the courage to encourage the girls to pursue their education.

There has been no attempt by the administration to get in touch with either of the girls, their families and their school to check on their well being or help in re-adjustment. The support has come only from their families, local activists and school teachers.

ISSUES IN THIS ARREST

Arrests of minor school-girls and their subsequent treatment raise several serious issues, as listed below:

1. Even though the girls have been released after two months without any charges against them, the serious issue of arbitrary arrests and detention remains. The questions that come up are – if the police did not have any reliable evidence against these girls then why were they arrested in the first place, why where they charged with such grave crimes, and why were they paraded in the media as hard core Naxalites? What effect will all this have on their education and future? Will the state take responsibility

for injuries that could possibly have been caused to young girls during their severe beating with batons? Will statebear responsibility for these gross violations by police personnel, and if yes, how will it compensate for what the girls have gone through?

2. The girls were clearly below 18 years of age and rather  than abiding by the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act, their age had been falsified and they were kept in jail for nearly two months.

3. The hostility of the SP when this issue of their being below 18 was pointed out, and his response that they will contest this matter when it comes up, and go for bone-test, etc. In other words, his attempt to defend his action of showing them as adults when in reality they were minors.

4. Gross violation of all the rules laid down regarding arrests, such as informing family members. As of 19th November, more than two weeks after their arrest, the SP said that it was not their duty to inform them, and that he was waiting for the parents to come and file an application.

5. The DK Basu guidelines clearly state that at the time of arrest someone other than the police has to be a witness to the arrest as well as seizures. In this case the arresting officer has written in his report that since the accused were arrested from the forest, there were no independent witnesses, hence two policemen have signed as witness. But the police did come to the village and also picked up men from there. The bag was also seized from the house in the village. They could have asked a villager to be a

witness. But that was not done.

6. The interaction with teachers indicated that the girls were attending school regularly, and therefore could not possibly have been moving with the Maoists squads, and could not have been present at the encounter site with guns and explosives.

7. Media coverage – At a press conference the SP produced the arrested four persons in front of audience, referring to them as belonging to a certain ‘Kundan Pahan’ faction of Maoists. Although their faces were covered, yet, is such a treatment necessary? Why should the young girls be publicly maligned?

 

8. No media person had actually gone to Eeti village to verify the police version nor was there any report of the people who were beaten up by the police. The people in the village were saying that they had drawn up a list refuting the zapti chalan of the police (seizure list). But that was not reported. The journalists also admitted that most of the news that they got was from the SP’s press conferences, and that much of the news and facts about these encounters were coming from the police.

 

V. While this is a specific case of violence against children by the police that we investigated and followed through, we were told of other serious incidents and issues concerning violence against children in Jharkhand. These are listed out in the complaint letter to the NCPCR (Annexure III).

II

We had been told of molestation of women by police/CRPF in some villages in Saraikela Kharsawan and Latehar during search operations. We visited a few of these villages.

 

Kandrakuti and Raijama Village, Block Kharsawan, Saraikela Kharsawan

 

These two villages are adjacent to each other, about 20 kilometers off the main road, located in a valley. There is no anganwadi in either of the villages, and there has been no immunization in the villages in the past five years. Further, there are no irrigation and drinking water facilities. People get water from a nearby stream. People have job cards but most have not got work; a few had got work for about 14

days on an average. There was one PDS center for the cluster of villages, and that too was situated at a distance from the village.

At Raijama we were told of a search operation conducted by the CRPF in 2009. On the 21st of March 2009 people of the village were getting ready to go to a rally in Ranchi. Nearly 500 policemen with guns

(bandook), from CRPF camps at Tamar and Vijaygiri approached the village from three sides, early in the morning. They started entering the houses and beating up the occupants. About 11-12 people from the village, including an old man and an old woman, were beaten up. The people who were leaving for the rally were beaten up as Maoists. On the pretext of asking for water, these men either grabbed hands of young girls or entered their houses and molested young girls (‘ladies par haath chalana’). Rice and grain were thrown out and food items destroyed. ‘They kept asking us about Maoists saying that we give

them food.’ One woman pointed out that ‘if they want to make inquiries, then why can they not ask us decently; instead they barge into our houses and start beating us up. The police told us that we

do not inform them about the arrival of the Maoists. However,what can we tell when they do not come here.’ The policemen remained in the village till about 12:30-1:00, beating up people and molesting women. They beat people with rifle butts. One young girl from this village was reported to have been raped by four security personnel during this combing operation. They took turns at blocking the door of the house while doing so.

The villagers told us about the beating and general assault on villagers, as well as assault on women. However, they were hesitant to identify specific victims. They said that though the incident should be brought to light, there was no need to keep marking the girls, since the girls were very young and there was a stigma attached to rape. Further, much time had elapsed since the incident and they had got no justice.However, we did get to meet the three young women.

The girls who had been molested and raped were very young. They spoke of the incident as molestation. According to one young woman (about 15-16 years), one m policeman with a gun entered her house

and asked for water. When she gave it to him he tried to grab hold of her. They were giving galis (verbal abuses) all the time that they were there. Another woman said she was hit with a rifle butt by a oliceman

who got into her house. One girl reported to have been raped, (about 19-20 years), said that five men entered her house; two held her while two were at the door and one police man assaulted her (‘kuchch karne ki koshish kiya’). At that time there was no one in the house and she was too ashamed to scream; but she did manage to hit them. They were in the house for half an hour. She appeared quite uneasy about describing what actually happened during that half an hour. She said though they attempted to rape her, they were not actually able to do so because she struggled. She was quite ill after this incident and had to be taken to the hospital by her parents.

We spoke to one young woman who said she had taken the lead to mobilize the village people for a rally at District Commissioner’s office to protest against the violence on them in the name of looking for

Maovadis. She hinted it had now become a village decision not to speak of the rape because of the stigma and now that so much time had passed there was no need to keep marking the girls. It seems this

was a large operation in which many neighbouring villages were searched and that there were instances of people being beaten up from those villages too. Those people had also participated in the rally at Kharsawan.About a week after this combing operation the villagers held a protest rally at the District Commissioner’s office against the misbehavior of the police with the women. People from surrounding villages joined in solidarity. They were stopped on their way to the thana by CRPF and police, five men were arrested on charges of being Maovadis, kept in the police station and let off the following day. But with some help from local journalists they were able to get a lot of attention. We were told that the protest was reported in the local press but we could not get any press reports. However, no formal cases were filed or any formal action taken by the administration. However, villagers feel that the removal of the concerned battalion from the area might be a consequence of this protest. We were told that no such incident had occurred since then. There are small stray incidents that keep happening.While there was some talk of some compensation being given to the victims, this could not be confirmed. We were told by the villagers that the force had come to their village 3-4 times over the past one year.

At Kandrakuti people spoke of arbitrary violence during searching and patrolling by security forces. We were told about some incidents that had taken place in April 2010. One person of Kandrakuti said he had gone out of the village area towards a small hill to make a mobile phone call to his pregnant wife as there was better network connectivity on the hill. He was caught by the CRPF and beaten up saying he was a MCC cadre. They held a gun to his head and when he resisted the bullet went off and just missed him. He was beaten so badly that he had to be taken to hospital. He said, “I had gone to make a phone call to my pregnant wife. They said I was calling the Maoists and started to beat me up. I was tied and beaten up with rifle butts. I resisted and one of the bullets went off and went past my head. I

lost consciousness”.

 

A 50 year-old man had also been beaten up by the CRPF, while he had gone to herd cows and was beaten by the CRPF. “I was grazing my cows in the forest when they came and tied me and took me to

Raijama village. They kept me tied for hours and then they took me back to the jungle. Then they left me. The force set fire in the forest so that people hiding in the forest would come out”. The police or the force, as it is called, come in large numbers 60-70 and even 400-500. The force does come up to these villages at least once a month but they have not done anything on such a largescale although people do get beaten up. The people are scared of something happening every time the police comes to their village.

Sarju and Other Villages, Garu Block, Latehar

Incidents similar to the above one in Raijama took place in Sarju village during combing operations of November 2009. Womenfolk of the village were harassed. The force had come on a search operation in a cluster of four or five villages. In Sarju they entered the basti behind the main market, “Sabhi gharon mein ghuse, aurat bacche sab so rahe the,unhe utha utha kar bahar kiya. Keise pakad rahe the aurat o

uska koi kadar nahin. Buri tarah se kapdo se pakad kar kheench rahe the” (they demonstrated how the women were pulled out from their homes by grabbing their blouses from the front). One old man

was beaten up so badly that his hand was fractured. In this case also the village people held a rally in Latehar against such police highhandedness but nothing concrete came of it except that such search

operations were stopped for the time being.

Some women from Sonvaar village told us that during a combing operation in December 2009 women were threatened. The security forces, all men, caught one woman and attempted to rape her inside her house; she managed to pick up an axe and threatened to attack them at which the men fled. In another incident the police hit an adolescent girl and tore her clothes; she somehow managed to escape.

In yet another incident, 2-3 policemen entered a house and began beating up the occupants – a couple and a girl. The wife picked up an axe and threatened them at which the police ran away. According to these women, similar incidents had taken place in Chachu and Rol villages. In Chachu, one old woman was badly beaten along with her family members. Police also broke some huts and belongings such as utensils and trunks. It was reported that this old woman was so shocked that she died a few days later (‘woh gham se mar gayi’).

Kurid Village, Manika Block, Latehar

 

There was a combing operation at Kurid by police personnel in November 2009. Several people we spoke to said women had been sexually assaulted during the operation. Specific victims were named

by other women but they themselves refused to confirm this. However they all said police had come into the village and had sexually assaulted and molested women. In our conversation with them it was conveyed that even though they had protested immediately after the incident, no action had been taken by the administration; there was a feeling that nothing would come out of identifying specific women as victims. The police arrived in the village early in the morning. One woman narrated her experience – ‘my husband had gone out to attend call of nature; I ran out of the house leaving my son and two daughters behind.The police kept questioning my children and when they saw me they called out to me. When I came into the house they kept asking me where I had hidden the guns and ransacked our house during the search. They took away Rs 2000 that I had kept in the house from the sale of pigs. When my husband returned they took Rs 5000 from him and his mobile phone. They kept abusing me when

 

I said I did not have any guns’. While she said that they did not molest her, some of the men, including her brother-in-law, said she was sexually assaulted and we found she herself was uncomfortable telling us about it.

The people from this village also held a protest against this misbehavior of the police soon after the combing operation by organizing a road blockage at Semanga Chowk. At the rally some men were thrashed by the police and then taken to Manika police station and made to sign blank papers. Cases were filed against three men and two women and even a year later, in November 2010, the case was still going on and they had to continue going to the court on summons.

People at Kurid said that a similar incident had taken place at Rewat (a nearby village) a couple of years ago (2008) when security personnel had indulged in mass molestation and rape. But there had had been no protest then. So when the Kurid incident took place, they decided to protest. They felt that if there had been strong protests after the Rewat incident maybe this would not have happened again. So they did a chakka-jam demanding justice. ‘Par tab bhi koi sunwai nahin hui.Bas dande marne lage itni buri tarah se’ (there has been no response;we were only beaten up severely).

We were told of a similar incident that had taken place in another neighbouring village Matlong in 2009. In 2009 before the election there was a picket in the school in Matlong. There was one incident that was

reported where one jawan got drunk and got into the house of a woman when nobody was at home. He tried to rape her but she escaped because she threatened him with a sickle and her father-in-law entered the house with his animals. So the jawan ran away. We were told that ‘when camps are set up in the village like this then there are always some such incidents. The soldiers eat and drink and they have the power of the gun so such things always happen’. We could not visit either Matlong or Rewat but this information was corroborated by people in Bishnubandh and Kurid villages when we went there for investigating similar incidents.

They also reported an overall atmosphere of fear. Men in some villages told us that when the security forces come in for search operations people just take their children and run away into the forest and return after they have gone. Because they fear violence and brutality. Apart from these instances of violence by security forces during combing-search operations that have not been documented or reported anywhere, there are several other cases we were told or documented about wherein ordinary villagers, including women and children who had died in police firing during search operations or encounters.

Some of these are: (i) We were told by local people in Khunti of a major encounter in May 2010 in Mamail village, Khunti district, where a large contingent of security forces had an exchange of fire with Maoists. As it was peak summer there was severe water scarcity in the area; the police reportedly got information that there was a Naxalite camp at the water nullah in Mamail and decided to launch an attack there. They went there during a function in the village and in the firing that followed a large number of Maoist cadres and villagers, including many women, were reportedly killed. The villagers were supposedly used as a shield (by whom it was not clearly told). We were also told that the police

had not reported this widely in the press as it does of other such encounters and operations; and it was a mystery as to why it did not do so. We were told that we should investigate and highlight such cases.

(ii) The shooting incident in April 2010 in Ladi village during a search operation, leading to instant death of a 28-year woman – Jacinta – outside her home has been documented and reported

(www.jharkhandmirror.org, www.sanhati.com).

(iii) In July 2010 one person – Etwa Munda – was picked up from his village Papirdah under Tamar police station and shot dead by security forces as a ‘hardcore Naxalite’; Rajesh Singh Munda of the same village was also shot dead in a similar fashion a month later in August.

(iv) In April 2009 five men in Barwadih, Latehar were picked up fromtheir houses by CRPF after a landmine blast by Maoists and shot dead after branding them as Maoists (Frontline May 23-June 5 2009). State government ordered an inquiry after protests by people and compensation was given although on grounds that they were killed in cross-fire during an encounter between Maoists and security forces.

(v) Four boys who had gone to pick mahua in early hours of 19.03.20 09 in Saramgoda forest, Sirka village, Murhu, were fired upon by a police party. While one boy died on the spot, two others were injured. This incident was reported in the press and local parties took it up.

ISSUES IN THESE CASES OF MOLESTATION AND VIOLENCE BY SECURITY FORCES

1. Several people we spoke to in Ranchi (who wish to remain anonymous) told us that ‘the security forces misbehave with women once they enter houses at will and with arms in order to search and in such a situation molestation and sexual violence may be taking place’. Both men and women said there were

incidents of rape and molestation in the village during combing operations in 2009, but no woman was willing to identify herself as the victim; in fact there appears to be a collective decision to maintain silence on such matters. Given the sensitive nature of the issue we also did not press the point to establish whether or not the crime had been committed. We could understand some of the reasons behind this attitude of people. It could be due to discomfort with us as strangers and outsiders, due to cultural factors affecting attitude towards sexual assault, due to the fact that they may have decided to get over these incidents and did not want us to re-open them; as well as the fact that women did

not want to talk of being a victim of sexual assault when no action follows a complaint. As women, we respect such decisions by these women. However, we feel that such silence would be detrimental in the long run as it would lead to security forces indulging in such crimes regularly and getting away with their lawlessness in these remote areas.

2. Most news reports are based on statements by police/security forces on combing/search operations in which alleged Maoists have been arrested, or arms have been discovered, or there is exchange of fire or deaths in ‘encounters’. Other operations,including those in which there have been allegations of violence

by security personnel go unreported. Protests by the affected village people against the high-handedness of these security personnel are also not adequately reported. This indicates that the press is largely reporting the information given to them by the police; and not making sufficient efforts to independently visit the affected areas, verify and collect facts.

3. While most of the cases of violence during search operations have taken place during general elections of 2009, before the official start of Operation Green Hunt (OGH), the intentions and attempts by security personnel to molest and assault women during each such operation raises a lot of concerns as to what will be the fate of the village women now that security forces have decided to intensify their operations under OGH to flush out Maoists (See Annexure IV for press reports). It indicates the pressing need to be alert and ensure that no violence takes place against innocent villagers in general, and against women and young girls, in particular, who are the most vulnerable during these search

operations and so-called encounters.

4. Finally there is the issue of the police and security forces using shameful tactics of branding those women as Maoists who raise the issue of sexual assault and rape by forces. This is used to instill fear of arrest and harassment among women who have the courage to expose sexual violence committed by the police. Like it was seen in many cases stated above, the fear of further violence and arrest instills in most women a fear and cases go unreported. And if women muster the courage and report the cases, the police most often uses media to brand these women as Maoists or its sympathizers and claim that the allegations are aimed atdiscrediting the security forces. These counter-accusations are in fact attempts at discrediting the women who have made the sexual violence charges. This again reflects on the character of the security forces and the state which does not consider sexual violence against women a culpable offense. Instead it engages in suppressing the truth, protecting culprits and further launching assault on women instead of doing justice.

III

We had read two news reports of two teenage girls alleging rape by the Maoists; in one case the girl had also been shot at. The team met the families of these two girls in Latehar district. In January 2011 two

of the team members met the two concerned girls, as we could not meet them during November 2010 visit. We had been told by SP Latehar that he had arranged for the two girls to study in another district

under supervision of officials there. We met the official who arranged for us to meet the girls and speak to them.

  1. 1.     Case of Rape and Attempt to Kill

 

The Times of India March 5 2010 Ranchi: A teenage girl was shot by Maoist rebels in Jharkhand’s

Latehar district for slapping rape charges on a Maoist leader, police said Friday. The victim is struggling for life in a hospital here. Maoist guerrillas shot three bullets into 17-year-old xxxx on

Thursday. She was injured critically and has been admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of Rajendra Institute of Medical Science (RIMS) at Ranchi. “xxxx sustained three bullets in her stomach.

Her condition is critical,” a doctor said.

 

 xxxx was shot when she was riding her bicycle in an area close to Latehar railway station. She was stopped by three motorcycleborne Maoist rebels including the Maoist commander Pappu Lohra,

who allegedly pumped three bullets into xxxx’s stomach and then fled, police said. According to police, xxxx was shot because she was bold enough to lodge a first information report (FIR) against Lohra for abducting and raping her.

 

“xxxx was shot because she dared to raise a voice against Maoists. She had lodged an FIR against Pappu Lohra. xxxx had accused Pappu of raping her for two days in a jungle after abducting her,”

a police official told IANS. According to local journalists, Maoist rebels alleged it was the handiwork of the police who used xxxx to lodge fake rape charges against Lohra.

 

(The Times of India March 5 2010 Teen girl, who alleges rape by Maoist, shot at – The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Teen-girl-who-alleges-rape-by-Maoist-shot-at/articleshow/5645977.cms#ixzz1DFgYp4uP

As no-one could tell us the whereabouts of the girl, we decided to talk to her parents first. We met her parents at their home. The family belongs to the Khairwar tribal community. Her parents are low-income peasants and she has three brothers and six sisters. Two brothers stay in an ashramshala and study. According to her parents, the girl was presently  in Latehar thana and preparing for tenth board exams; that she did not want to come back to her house as she feared for her life. According to her father, even before the shooting incident in March, she used to be very withdrawn and did not have much interaction with the family. They did not know very much about her activities when she left home to go to school. She was attending high school at Dudhwa and would return home very late from school. He said he would scold her for coming so late and once they had a quarrel over this and she left home. This was sometime in October-November 2009. He was not very clear about the exact date. For nearly two months they had no idea where she was (it is possible that the parents knew where she was but chose to not to tell us). According to her mother, she was possibly with the Sangathan (CPI Maoist). Then she returned home around January 2010, but shifted to a hostel (dera) in Latehar town. She visited her house often to take rice and other rations. It was during one such visit that she was taken

away by Pappu Lohra who was then a member of CPI Maoist. Two days later they heard that she had gone to Latehar PS and filed a case of rape against Pappu. However, she continued to live in Latehar and

visit her parents.

On March 4, while she was coming home, she was shot at by Pappu Lohra and two others near a railway crossing near Latehar railway station. She sought shelter in a small hotel nearby and the three left thinking her to be dead. She was taken by police to Latehar subdivisional hospital and then shifted to RIMS at Ranchi because of her critical condition. She was in RIMS till May and her parents visited her

regularly. While they did not pay for her entire medical treatment, they did spend Rs 1800 on medicines. In May, after she was discharged,  the parents took her to her sister’s place where she stayed till July. Her father said that they met the Latehar DSP regarding his daughter’s future and safety when she was with her sister. She was shifted to Latehar PS where she stayed till October. They met her there and she said she wanted to complete here studies and wanted to clear her board examinations. The parents claimed that they have not met her since October 2010 and did not know where she was.

When asked whether Maoists held any jan adalat (people’s court) on this matter of charges of rape and shooting, her father said that no jan adalat had been held. However, they got to know that Pappu Lohra

had been demoted/expelled from his position and sent away; however he was still living in this area but not as an active cadre. Further, he said, that once before the incident of the shooting he had been taken to the forest where he was asked by the Maoist leaders to give his version of the incidents. He was called once again in May by Pappu Lohra asking for withdrawal of the case of rape against him. The father said

that he had no say in this since it w as not filed by him.

It was quite understandable that under the difficult circumstances, the family was reluctant to talk to us and maintained silence on many of our queries such as whether she had shared anything with them about the time when she was away and about where exactly she was after her stay at the thana, whether they wanted her to return, whether they feared for her safety once she returned and whether they knew why she did not want to return home. As we were extremely concerned about whereabouts and safety of the girl and needed to get her firsthand account, we met SP Latehar, Kuldeep Dwivedi, to inquire about her since she was last reported to have been seen at the police station in October.

  To read rest of the FF report please click here

2 Responses to “Fact Finding Report: Sexual Violence on Women in the Context of Anti-Maoist Operations in Jharkhand”

  1. There doesn’t seem to be a download link on Google docs. Can it be emailed to me, please?

  2. […]  Fact Finding Report: Sexual Violence on Women in the Context of Anti-Maoist Operations in Jharkhand […]

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