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Delhi For Farmers had given a call to progressive and democratic people of Delhi to extend solidarity to Farmers on 14 December 2020.

The call was given to resident welfare associations, market associations, traders associations, transporters associations, bar associations, doctors and scientists associations, women collectives and organisations, trade unions, workers associations, teachers associations and individuals to support this call of solidarity.

Lakhs of farmers have assembled at the borders of Delhi demanding withdrawal of the 3 anti-farmer acts and electricity amendment bill. These laws not only adversely affect the farmers but also will endanger the food security of the nation. These laws will give unbridled control of big profit hungry corporates over agriculture, land and produce. Many rounds of discussions have brought about no respite to them because of the adamant, pro-corporate stand of the Modi government. The protesting farmers have stated that repealing of these laws is the only way they will call off protests. This is because the basic design of these laws is to handover agriculture n\and land to corporate and amendments will not change its basic philosophy.

Although the government is going all out to propagate that it has agreed to amendments, and the laws are to protect farmers, the fact actually is otherwise and the government has not been able to answer a single question raised by farmers. The people of the city of Delhi are concerned over the plight of the farmers, and the refusal of the Central government to respond to the genuine demands. This treatment to the ‘annadata’ – the food giver – of the nation on par with the enemies by using force, coupled with misinformation spread by BJP leaders and sections of the media about the farmer’s protest, are against the ethos of the country. After the successful call for Bharat bandh on December 8th and the standoff with the government which virtually called off the discussions, the ‘Samyukta Kisan Morcha’ and AIKSCC has given another call for ‘Delhi Chalo’ from nearby states and Nationwide protest on December 14 to mount pressure on the government. Delhi For Farmers, a platform of organizations and progressive individuals calls on all democratic and justice-seeking people of Delhi to join the call and extend solidarity to the protesting farmers on December 14, at Shaheedi Park, ITO.

Your support to the farmers Cause will definitely force the government to repeal the New Farm Laws and withdraw the Electricity bill 2020.

Dear Friends,

We are pleased to invite you to the fourth session of Ajit Roy Centenary Year Webinar Series on Marxism and Contemporary Politics; Remembering the life and works of the Marxist Reviewer

The session is titled  “Engagement with the Social: Dalit-Bahujan, Caste-Class, Patriarchy and Genders” and will be held on 12th December, 2020 from 5:00 pm to 7:30 pm.

Moderated by: Uma Chakravarty

Speakers:
Gabriele Dietrich
Sunny M Kapicadu
Sobhanlal Dattagupta

Respondents:
Kavita Krishnan
Ruby Hembrom

When: 12th December 2020, Saturday from 5:00 pm to 7:30 pm

Where: Zoom link for the meeting is https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86374179980?pwd=RExHbUxGMHk5elpGRkVHY0tMb0t6QT09

Meeting ID: 863 7417 9980
Passcode: 226415


It is our hope that the webinar will attempt to give the younger generation a feel for the period in which Com. Ajit Roy lived and worked and will help to reflect in newer ways from a progressive perspective, on present challenges that we in India face today.

The session will be open, there will be no formal registration. There will be simultaneous translation in Hindi. You will be able to watch the session on https://facebook.com/delhisolidaritygroup/live_videos/?ref=bookmarks&mt_nav=0

Yours sincerely,
Nalini Nayak, Dileep Kamat, Alex Tuscano, Babu Mathew, George Chira, Philip George, J. John, Gabriele Dietrich, Ajitha George, Vijayan MJ, Aashima Subberwal, Anil Varghese, Shankar Mahanand, Evita Das

Be it the Bhopal Survivors or the Farmers – People’s Resistance Against Corporations Remains the Same

This year, the 3rd of December marks the 36th Anniversary of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy

On the 3rd of December 1984 the fateful day in the history of India – Bhopal witnessed the world’s largest industrial disaster which led to the death of more than 20,000 people and left tens of thousands more injured. More than half a million people were exposed to the horrific gas leak during that tragic night and thirty-six years later, at least one person dies every day in Bhopal from the injuries they sustained on that night. Union Carbide Corporation, the company responsible for this incident was acquired by Dow Chemical in 2001, but Dow Chemical has refused to owe any liability towards paying just compensation to the Bhopal survivors. 

But the struggle of Bhopal Survivors against Dow Chemicals is not just about one evil Corporation. Corporations across the world have been murdering and uprooting many lives of people across the globe by being involved in unjust acquisition of land, oppression of factory workers, pollution of environment, reckless mining, deforestation, extraction of ground water, control of seeds of farmers and privatization of agricultural produce disregarding the people of the earth.

The struggles of peoples’ movements against Corporations are not isolated struggles against specific Corporations per se, but point towards the larger issues associated with the Corporate Structure. Unless we come together to resist the onslaught of Corporation, powerful Corporations will continue functioning at the cost of lives and livelihoods of people.  

In spite of the struggle for the fair and just compensation for Bhopal survivors for several years, along with prolonged efforts made at international level continue to hold Dow Chemical accountable for taking full responsibility of the incident, we still witness the harsh arrogance of Multi-National Corporations (MNCs) in suppressing larger interests of people, for the sheer pursuit of their profits. What happened in Bhopal is not an isolated case of wrong doing by one lone Corporation which refused to take due responsibility for its actions. This is a visible manifestation of growing Corporate Power globally, with Corporations under the bandwagon of neoliberalism actively suppressing people’s movements, acquiring natural resources like land, water, minerals, forests, oil, etc. and colluding with Governments across the world to concentrate the power in the hands of a few elites. 

Multinational Corporations have become so powerful with the passage of time that their annual revenues are exceeding GDPs of several nations and their lobbying activities in the respective government bodies are enabling them to dictate the agenda and policies of the State, favouring interests of Corporations than its citizens thereby continuing to grow at a rapid rate. We very well see in the case of last two decades of liberalization as how Indian Government has allowed dis-investment of a large number of Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) and privatizing basic services like electricity, water, health care and agri-produce.

The ownership of mainstream media by Corporations amplifies the message of development but in reality, they sabotage democracy by keeping elected governments as their puppets. Governments give them full-fledged support, including use of military and police wherever needed to make sure that regular business of Corporations goes uninterrupted. 

Under the guise of Corporate Accountability, as in the case of Bhopal Tragedy, Dow Chemical blatantly refused to give the due compensation to the survivors, so that it can continue to post more profits for its shareholders. Corporations have abused the term ‘accountability’ to the extent that they are neither accountable to the communities where they operate, nor accountable to the State. Corporations’ sole accountability rests with their shareholders, who invest money in a Corporation to get higher returns, without bothering much about the negative externalities generated due to the running of Corporations. The larger responsibility of the business towards people, communities and environment is totally ignored and the term ‘sustainable development’ becomes a Public Relations tool in the hands of Corporations, claiming that they are deeply concerned about the long-term sustainability of the people and communities. In the context of India, we get to hear several examples of human rights and labour rights violations by Corporations, along with severe violations of environmental regulations. 

The ongoing protests of farmers in Delhi who have gathered from all across India to protest the recent enacted farm laws are also largely towards the concerns that the government is making way for big corporate houses to dictate the terms by deregulating the sale of crops and dismantling of Minimum Support Price system. The outrage of farmers is not just a recent phenomenon but farmers have come together from time to time to resist the corporatization of agriculture and opposing corporate greed whether in the form of opposing forcible land acquisitions by corporates in the name of industrialization or urban development, or the onslaught of Multinational Corporations such as Monsanto and Syngenta who have leave no stone unturned in bringing GM Crops to India along with forcing farmers to use more pesticides and hybrid seeds. Moreover, companies like Reliance, ITC, Adani, PepsiCo and many others are getting into more and more of contract farming snatching away the independence of farmers. 

Whether it is the struggle of people from Bhopal against Dow Chemical, the ongoing protests of farmers or the several struggles of various peoples’ movements in the past such as struggle of Adivasis of Niyamgiri against Vedanta, villagers of Plachimada against Coca-Cola, villagers of Jagatsinghpur against POSCO, factory workers against Maruti Suzuki, etc. the larger message which needs to go out is, that these are not segregated struggles of peoples’ movements against few specific evil Corporations. What needs to be challenged fiercely is the unaccountable power of the larger Corporate Structure, ready to use their muscle and money power to thwart any kind of resistance targeted at them.  Although local struggles targeting individual Corporations do dent their growth in a big way, we all need to stand together against these profit-hungry Corporations, so that the voices of the people at the ground amplify multiple times and that Government cannot keep favouring Corporations at the cost of people and environment. 

We, the peoples’ movements stand together in solidarity with the survivors of the injustices of the powerful Corporations and the struggle of justice for the Bhopal Survivors. 

In Solidarity with Bhopal Survivors
Delhi Solidarity Group (DSG)

The video can also be accessed at https://www.facebook.com/delhisolidaritygroup/videos/228619078692962/

Dear Friends,

We are pleased to invite you to the third session of Ajit Roy Centenary Year Webinar Series on Marxism and Contemporary Politics; Remembering the life and works of the Marxist Reviewer

The session is titled  “Counter-hegemony, Role of Religions and threats to Constitutional Secularism” and will be held on 5th December, 2020 from 4:00 pm to 6:30 pm.

Moderated by: Prakash Louis

Speakers:
Datta Desai
Dhanaji Gurav
Teesta Setalvad

Respondents:
Meenakshi Munda
Mujahid Nafees

When: 5th December 2020, Saturday from 4:00 pm to 6:30 pm

Where: Zoom link for the meeting is https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86374179980?pwd=RExHbUxGMHk5elpGRkVHY0tMb0t6QT09

Meeting ID: 863 7417 9980
Passcode: 226415


Please find below the planned webinar chart on AR Centenary Year Webinar Series on Marxism and Contemporary Politics; Remembering the life and works of the Marxist Reviewer.

It is our hope that these webinars will attempt to give the younger generation a feel for the period in which Com. Ajit Roy lived and worked and will help to reflect in newer ways from a progressive perspective, on present challenges that we in India face today.

The sessions are open, there will be no formal registration. There will be simultaneous translation in Hindi. You will be able to watch the session on https://facebook.com/delhisolidaritygroup/live_videos/?ref=bookmarks&mt_nav=0

Yours sincerely,
Nalini Nayak, Dileep Kamat, Alex Tuscano, Babu Mathew, George Chira, Philip George, J. John, Gabriele Dietrich, Ajitha George, Vijayan MJ, Aashima Subberwal, Anil Varghese, Shankar Mahanand, Evita Das 

DSG CONDEMNS GOVT’S ATTEMPTS OF CRUSHING PEOPLE’S VOICES AND VIOLENT ATTACKS ON FARMERS AND WORKERS MARCHING TO DELHI

FARMERS AND WORKERS ARE THE BACKBONE OF INDIA’S ECONOMY AND WORKFORCE; UNION GOVERNMENT MUST AGREE TO THEIR DEMANDS AND ROLL BACK THE FARM ACTS PASSED THIS YEAR

New Delhi | November 27, 2020: In solidarity with the 300 million farmers and workers of independent India who are on strike against the Union Government of India. Since 2014 and after coming to power, the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has been functioning at the behest of influential corporate families and lobbies. The government, in connivance with these corporate entities, has been dismantling the agricultural sector and labour unions of India. The agricultural sector includes various farmers and labour unions which play an integral part in celebrating the spirit of the Constitution of India and its socialist principles. The labour unions which are engaged in India’s agriculture sector are being operated directly by farmers and workers themselves. Since 2017, lakhs of farmers have been demanding that a remunerative Minimum Support Price (MSP) be guaranteed to all farmers and that all farmers be free from indebtedness. The Union Government of India has not been complying to this demand of the farmers and instead made false promises and launched schemes that remained unimplemented. In times of the global pandemic of COVID-19, the Union Government of India introduced and passed three agriculture bills which would lead to an increased liberalization of the agriculture sector and to the dismantling of the Mandi culture.

The farmers and workers who have been protesting all across the country understand the hidden agenda behind the malicious practices of the Union Government of India, which intends to sabotage the liberated ethos of the farmers of India. The 300 million farmers and workers who are on a nation-wide strike on the 26th of November 2020 are reminding the government of India that their liberated ethos is not dead yet. The farmers and workers of India are reminding the government of India that the empty stomachs of the 1.3 billion populaces of India are being fed by the farmers and workers of independent India every day.

Delhi Solidarity Group (DSG) salutes all the protesting farmers and workers from across the country who are being subjected to water-cannons, tear gas and barricades. DSG stands in complete solidarity with the farmers and workers of India in the whole struggle and resistance against the oppressive and exploitative state. DSG condemns each and every act of the government of India to muzzle the voices of oppressed farmers and workers. It should be remembered that in 1943, an estimated 3 million people died due to starvation and malnutrition in colonial Bengal. The liberated ethos of the farmers and workers of India remembers that year particularly. They remember how few handful oligarchs, due to their greed, murdered millions of innocent people. The farmers and workers of India are sharing this history with their representatives who are enjoying a cup of tea with the oligarchs, in order for them not to forget the historical past of the oligarchs as mass murderers. The government, hand in gloves with the corporates, should remember that whenever in history there is an anti-people actions taken by the government without their consent, people always stand united to smash such attempts.

Dear Friends,

We are delighted to invite you for the second session of Ajit Roy Centenary Year Webinar Series on Marxism and Contemporary Politics; Remembering the life and works of the Marxist Reviewer  – titled  ‘Agrarian Question in the Age of Structural Crisis’ on Saturday, the 28th November 2020, 4 pm to 6.30 pm.

Moderated by: Madhuresh Kumar, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)

Speakers:
P. Sainath, People’s Archive of Rural India (PARI)
Sukalo Gond, All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP) 

Respondents:
Nicholas, Tamil Nadu Land Rights Federation (TNLRF)
Vijoo Krishnan, All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS)
Jesu Rethinam, National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF)

28th November 2020, Saturday from 4:00 pm to 6:30 pm

Zoom link for the meeting is https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86374179980?pwd=RExHbUxGMHk5elpGRkVHY0tMb0t6QT09

Meeting ID: 863 7417 9980
Passcode: 226415


Please find below the planned webinar chart on AR Centenary Year Webinar Series on Marxism and Contemporary Politics; Remembering the life and works of the Marxist Reviewer

It is our hope that these webinars will attempt to give the younger generation a feel for the period in which Com. Ajit Roy lived and worked and attempt to reflect in newer ways from a progressive perspective, on present challenges that we in India face today.

The sessions are open, there will be no formal registration. We hope you will share this message with your friends and like-minded persons interested in these topics.

There will be simultaneous translations in Hindi and Tamil.

You will be able to watch the session on https://facebook.com/delhisolidaritygroup/live_videos/?ref=bookmarks&mt_nav=0

Yours sincerely,
Nalini Nayak, Dileep Kamat, Alex Tuscano, Babu Mathew, George Chira, Philip George, J. John, Gabriele Dietrich, Ajitha George, Vijayan MJ, Aashima Subberwal, Anil Varghese, Shankar Mahanand, Evita Das

Session theme: The Politics of Development, the Fate of the Earth and Unity of the Working classes and the Left

Moderator: Babu Mathew
Speakers: Amarjeet Kaur & Dinesh Abrol
Respondents: Clifton D Rozario & Nalini Nayak
When: 20th November 2020, Friday from 4:00 pm to 6:30  pm

Dear friends and comrades,
November 14, 2020 marks the birth centenary of Com. Ajit Roy. He was ‘Ajit da’ for  many who were fortunate to know him. In his demise in June 2011, we lost a true Marxist visionary, who inspired generations of social activists in the latter part of the 20th century, especially in India. Some of us have come together to organise a memorial programme in his honour and a webinar series is being planned to bring back some of the ideological questions and debates he pursued.

Com. Ajit Roy (1920-20) was an active member of the Communist Party of India from 1940 to 1964, serving in different capacities as student organisation leader, journalist and district committee member, till the party split took place in 1964. He decided not to be with either of the factions and chose to build left unity from the outside. He, together with a small group of comrades, started publishing the Marxist Review in which he continued to give a studied analysis of happenings in India and all over the world for nearly four decades. This also served as a pivotal space for critical left thinkers and trade union activists. An economist by training and a socio-political analyst by engagement, his arena covered a host of subjects from the expansion of capitalism and its plunder of natural resources, government policies and schemes, the position of the Communist parties and their distancing themselves from the class struggle, the danger of rising communalism, and the machinations of the state to quell democracy. Over the years, he wrote extensively in EPW on all these issues, besides publishing several books. Ajit Roy was passionate and untiring in self-critically addressing the failures of the Indian Left to respond to the Indian situation. In his political journey, Ajit Roy also joined forces with the new breed of mass movements and engaged with the activists in making them understand Marxian tools of analysis. Until his last breath, he upheld Marxism as an integral world view. Ajit Roy’s tenacity in bringing out The Marxist Review under the most difficult conditions and his drive to address the Indian Left of different shades and interact with activists of mass organisations, had clearly to do with the “optimism of the will”, which was like an inspiring contagion for those who knew and loved him.

The planned webinar chart on AR Centenary Year Webinar Series on Marxism and Contemporary Politics; Remembering the life and works of the Marxist Reviewer is arranged in the order mentioned below: 

We are delighted to invite you to this webinar series. It is our hope that the webinars will not only highlight the specific contributions of Com. Ajit Roy to an understanding of left politics but will attempt to give the younger generation a feel for the period in which he lived and worked and  attempt to reflect in newer ways  from a progressive perspective, on present challenges that we in India face today.

We hope to see you soon in the first session – The Politics of Development, the fate of the Earth and Unity of the Working Classes and the Left on 20th November 2020 from 4:00 pm to 6:30 pm.

Zoom link for the meeting is https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86374179980?pwd=RExHbUxGMHk5elpGRkVHY0tMb0t6QT09

Meeting ID: 863 7417 9980
Passcode: 226415
We will be sending reminder emails for the other sessions closer to the dates with the zoom links
.

The sessions are open, there will be no formal registration.

Yours sincerely,
Nalini Nayak, Dileep Kamat, Alex Tuscano, Babu Mathew, George Chira, Philip George, J. John, Gabriele Dietrich, Ajitha George, Vijayan MJ, Aashima Subberwal, Anil Varghese, Shankar Mahanand, Evita Das 

27 अक्टूबर 2020, दोपहर 2.30 बजे से

बैठक से जुड़ने के लिए नीचे दिए Zoom लिंक पर जाएं,
https://zoom.us/j/99719051343?pwd=TFovSUdSVjRxU2pmY2dSbjhqZGU3Zz09

Meeting ID: 997 1905 1343
Passcode: 803006

साथियों जैसा कि आपको मालूम है कि हर वर्ष हम सभी संगठन मिलकर भारतीय रॉय चौधरी के जन्मदिवस पर महिलाओं से संबंधित मामलों पर खास तौर पर महिला आंदोलन पर चर्चा रखकर उनकी याद को ताजा करते हैं। इस वर्ष भी हम उन्हें याद करते हुए एक अहम परिचर्चा महिला आन्दोलन, पितृसत्ता, जाति और साम्प्रदायिकता पर आयोजित कर रहे हैं ।

महिलाओं की सामाजिक समानता, बराबरी व मुक्ति की बुनियादी संघर्ष सदियों से चली आ रही पितृसत्ता को समाप्त करने से ही हासिल हो पायेगी। यह कोई आसान लड़ाई नहीं है बल्कि बेहद पेचीदा और कठिन संघर्ष है जिसे महिलाओं को खुद ही लड़ना पड़ेगा। इस संघर्ष को लड़ने के लिए पितृसत्ता की सामाजिक और राजनीतिक पहलू को बुनियादी रूप से समझना होगा तभी संगठित होकर इस लड़ाई को लड़ा जा सकेगा। इस संघर्ष की अगुआ महिलाएं होंगी लेकिन इस संघर्ष में प्रगतिशील पुरुष समाज, नौजवान पुरुष भी शामिल रहेंगे। भारती जी के जन्मदिन पर उनको श्रद्धांजलि देते हुए पिछले 9 साल से हम महिलाओं की शोषण व गैर बराबरी से मुक्ति के ऊपर महिला आंदोलन की भूमि और वन अधिकार संघर्ष से जोड़कर अध्ययन व चर्चा कर रहे हैं। इन चर्चाओं से काफी समझदारी साफ हो रही है कि महिलाओं के जब तक उत्पादन के साधनों जैसे भूमि, वन एवं प्राकृतिक संसाधनों पर मिल्कियत नहीं होती तब तक पितृसत्ता से मुक्ति नहीं मिल सकती। राजकुमारी भुइयां आदिवासी महिला कहती है कि “मैं भी माई यह धरती भी माई तो पितृसत्ता कहां से आई।” यह एक बहुत बड़ी समझदारी है जिस पर हमारे संगठन से जुड़ी महिलाएं विचार कर रही है। क्योंकि पिछले दो दशकों में उन्होंने संगठन से जुड़कर अपने बाप दादाओ की पूर्वजों की भूमि पर पुनर्दखल कायम किया और सामंतों, वन विभाग, पूंजीपतियों से जमीनों को छीना। इससे उनकी एक राजनैतिक समझ बनी कि जब तक महिलाओं के भूमि अधिकार स्वतंत्र रूप से उनको नहीं मिलेंगे तब तक गुलामी और शोषण से उनकी मुक्ति संभव नहीं है। पूरी विवाह संस्था उत्पादन के संसाधनों पर पुरुषों के एकाधिकार को स्थापित करने के आधार पर ही बनाई गई जिसमें भूमि, पशु, महिला, बच्चे व दलित तमाम उत्पादक शक्तियों को गुलाम और सम्पति बनाया गया। हजारों साल पहले समाज को वर्ण व्यवस्था में बदलने वाली मनुस्मृति भी यही कहती है कि ढोल, पशु, शूद्र, नारी सब ताड़न के अधिकारी। उसी तरह मशहूर दार्शनिक फ्रेड्रिक ऐंगल्स ने भी अपने लेख परिवार, निजी संपत्ति और राज्य की उत्पति में परिवार शब्द का उल्लेख करते हुए यह लिखा की परिवार का अर्थ ही है “गुलामों का जमावड़ा”। पूरी दुनिया में पूंजी पर एकाधिकार कायम करने के लिए पितृसत्ता की नींव रखी गई। इसलिए पहले यह समझना जरूरी है की महिलाओं की गुलामी परिवार के अंदर ही निहित है जिस से आजादी पाने के लिए परिवार जैसी संस्था मे व्यापत गैरबराबरी को ही निशाना बनाना होगा।

वर्ण व्यवस्था और धर्मो में बंटी महिलाओं के लिए इन जंजीरों की जकड़न से बाहर निकलना बेहद ही कठिन और पीड़ादायक प्रक्रिया है।

पितृसत्ता को चुनौती कैसे मिलेगी और कहां से मिलेगी इसके बारे में भी हमें स्पष्ट रूप से समझना होगा। यह संघर्ष भी वर्गीय संघर्ष है चूँकि जिस समाज की महिलाएं सामाजिक भेदभाव, जातिगत हिंसा, सांप्रदायिक भेदभाव और हिंसा, राजसत्ता की हिंसा झेल रही हैं (जो पितृसत्ता को मजबूत करने के लिए की जाती है) वो समाज ही पितृसत्ता को उखाड़ फेंक सकती है। इसलिए हम देखते है कि जब दलित समाज की महिलाएं शिक्षित हो कर सामंती गुलामी से बाहर आ रही है या फिर मुस्लिम महिलाएं नागरिकता विरोधी संशोधन कानून के खिलाफ सड़कों पर उतर आती हो या फिर दलित आदिवासी समाज की महिलाएं राज्य सत्ता को चुनौती देते हुए अपने जल, जंगल,जमीन पर दखल कायम करती हो तो यह उच्च-जाति उच्च-वर्ग समाज के गले नहीं उतरती। इसलिए वो यथास्थिति को बनाए रखने के लिए महिलाओं पर तरह-तरह से हमले कर रहे हैं। जिसका ताजा उदाहरण हमें हाथरस में नौजवान महिला के साथ रेप व हत्याकांड के रूप में देखने को मिला। यह घटना ऐसे ही अचानक नही घटी है बल्कि ये एक सुनियोजित आक्रमण है दलित या मेहनतकश आवाम के खिलाफ। दलितों के खिलाफ हो रहे हमलों में या न्यायालय में तमाम दलित के सम्बन्ध में लंबित मामले के पीछे भूमि विवाद ही मुख्य कारण है। हाथरस वाली घटना के पीछे भी पीड़ित महिला के परिवार का पुराना भूमि विवाद ठाकुर समुदाय के साथ कई वर्षों से चल रहा था। जिसमें मुक़दमे में पीड़िता के परिवार की जीत हुई थी वही खुन्नस लिए ठाकुरों ने इस घटना को अंजाम दिया। इस तरह का हमला करने की हिम्मत उन्हें सरकार से मिलती है चूंकि इस वक़्त उत्तर प्रदेश में भाजपा की सरकार है और उच्च जाति के हौसले बुलंद है। राजसत्ता में ही पितृसत्ता निहित होती है हाथरस की घटना उसका एक वीभत्स रूप है।

इस लिए हमें यह समझना जरूरी है कि परिवार से लेकर राजसत्ता तक पितृसत्ता की जड़े हैं, जिसके लिए हर स्तर पर संघर्ष करना होगा। यह संघर्ष वर्गीय चेतना के बगैर नही हो सकता। यह वर्गीय चेतना और वर्गीय संघर्ष परिवार की संस्था के ढांचे में आमूल-चूल परिवर्तन ला सकती है।

इसका क्या आधार होगा क्या स्वरूप होगा इसके बारे में कोई तैयार मसौदा नहीं है लेकिन एक दर्शन है कि परिवार में यह परिवर्तन मातृसत्ता के आधार पर ही परिवार का निर्माण करेगी। यह मसौदा भी संघर्ष से निकल कर आएगा। जिसमें परिवार के सभी सदस्यों को बराबरी का दर्जा मिलना, बच्चों के लालन-पालन में सामाजिक व सांस्कृतिक मूल्यों का होना, आजीविका के संसाधन जैसे जल, जंगल और जमीन का बाजारीकरण और निजीकरण के बजाय संसाधनों का समुदाय के लिए और समाज के लिए और पर्यावरण के लिए इस्तेमाल होना। ऐसे परिवार की स्थापना जहां महिलाओं के प्रजनन एवं शरीर पर महिलाओं की सोच के आधार पर नियंत्रण होना, जहां बलात्कार जैसे अपराध व अन्य यौन शोषण की जगह ही नहीं रहेगी। इस बुनियादी संघर्ष के लिए भी महिलाओं का एक बड़ा तबका जो कि उच्च वर्ग, उच्च जाति या मध्यम वर्ग से है शायद तैयार नहीं होगा क्योंकि उनके अंदर भी पितृसत्ता की जड़े मजबूत है और वह यथास्थिति को बनाए रखना ही चाहते हैं ताकि पितृसत्ता की व्यवस्था से उनको जो सुविधाएं मिल रही हैं वह मिलती रहे। लेकिन मध्यम वर्ग की प्रगतिशील महिला और आज की पीढ़ी की युवा महिलायें इस संघर्ष में ज़रूर शामिल होंगे।

इसलिए सब महिलाएं इस बुनियादी संघर्ष को लड़ने के लिए तैयार होंगी ऐसा भी नहीं लगता है। संघर्ष के लिए महिलाओं के एक वर्ग को खास तौर पर अपने आप को तैयार करना होगा और अपने संघर्ष के साथ इस पितृसत्ता के विचार के तारों को जोड़ना होगा तभी इसके खिलाफ एक निर्णायक लड़ाई हो सकती है। हालांकि इस संघर्ष में जहां पितृसत्ता के बगैर समाज का निर्माण हो उसमें सभी को फायदा मिलेगा वह चाहे सामंती वर्ग हो, उच्च जाति वर्ग हो या फिर पूंजीपति वर्ग हो।

जो उत्पीड़ित है उन तबकों को एकजुट करना एक हमारा एक मुख्य काम है। महिलाओं में अपने शोषण के खिलाफ पिछले दशकों में राजनीतिक चेतना आयी है। दलित, आदिवासी और मुस्लिम महिलायें जिस तरह से सड़क पर उतर कर अपने अधिकारों के बारे में सजग हो रहे है उस पर गहराई से काम करना होगा। देखा जाए तो दुनिया के सामाजिक बदलाव के जितने भी आंदोलन हुए है उसमें महिलाओ की मुख्य भूमिका रही है लेकिन जो बुनयादी मुद्दा उनके अपने शोषण से जुड़ा है वो अनसुलझा ही रह जाता है फिर पितृसत्ता उन्हें परिवार की जेल में कैद कर देती है। इस कार्य को करने के लिए हमारे संगठन ने इस वर्ष पहल की जब नागरिकता संशोधन कानून के खिलाफ मुस्लिम महिलायें दिल्ली के शाहीन बाग़ में आंदोलन कर रही थी तब दो बार देश भर से तमाम आदिवासी महिलायें उनके आंदोलन के समर्थन में जुडी थी और ये कार्यक्रम भी बना था की मुस्लिम महिलाओं का नेतृत्व भी इन आदिवासी क्षेत्रों में उनपर हो रहे उत्पीड़न के खिलाफ और संघर्ष के साथ जुड़ेगा लेकिन तालाबंदी के चलते यह कार्यक्रम आगे नही कर पाए। लेकिन इसकी शुरुआत हो चुकी है और संवाद जारी है जो आगे चल कर उत्पीड़ित समाज को एकजुट करने में एक बड़ी भूमिका अदा करेगा।

इसलिए जाति, साम्प्रदायिकता और पितृसत्ता से मुक्ति पाने के लिए महिलाओं को ही संघर्ष का बीड़ा उठाना पड़ेगा और ऐसे समाज का निर्माण करना होगा जहां बलात्कारी महिलाओं की कोख से पैदा न हो। उत्पादन के संसाधनों खास तौर पर भूमि के अधिकारों की लड़ाई आज दलित आदिवासी महिलाओं के नेतृत्व में लड़े जा रहे है इस आंदोलन में तमाम प्रगतिशील ताकतों को उनके साथ आना होगा और उनके नेतृत्व को स्वीकार करना होगा। उन्हें वह तमाम मदद मुहैया करनी होगी जिससे पितृसत्ता, जाति और साम्प्रदायिकता के ज़हर के खिलाफ संघर्ष को तेज़ किया जा सके।

आगामी 27 अक्टूबर 2020 को अखिल भारतीय वनश्रमजीवी यूनियन, दिल्ली समर्थक समूह और सिटीजंस फॉर जस्टिस एंड पीस द्वारा इस अहम मुद्दे पर एक चर्चा दोपहर 2:30 बजे से 5:00 बजे तक आयोजित की गई है। आप सब से अनुरोध है कि इस विशेष चर्चा में अवश्य भाग लें।

रोमा, सोकलो गोंड, आँचल, तीस्ता सीतलवाड़

October, 2020

Members of the fact-finding team:
Amir Sherwani Khan (AIUFWP)
Matadayal (AIUFWP)
Raja Rabbi Hussain (DSG)
Aman Khan (Advocate, Supreme Court of India)

After the police firing on Adivasis, which took place on the 11th of September 2020, in Adhaura Block, Kaimur District of Bihar, a four-member team; Amir Sherwani Khan (All India Union of Forest Working People), Matadayal from (All India Union of Forest Working People)  Raja Rabbi Hussain (Delhi Solidarity Group) and Aman Khan an advocate from the Supreme Court, visited the communities and interacted with them in Kaimur District of Bihar from 23rd to 27th of September 2020.

Click here to watch video documentation of fact-finding visit.

BACKGROUND

Since March 2020, the forest department officials of Adhaura block, Bhabua subdivision, Kaimur District, Bihar have been employing means such as encroaching upon agricultural lands of the Adivasi people intending to evict them from their villages. These villages include: Gulu, Goiyan, Dighar, Bahabar, Pipra, Sodha, Bahera, Dumrava, Sarainar. In Sarainar, they allegedly destroyed 50 houses of the Agariya Adivasi villagers in a bid to evict them. In Gullu, the government officials including forest officials have been pressuring villagers by digging pits on their cultivable lands under the grab of carrying out afforestation.

This struggle between the forest officials and the Adivasis have been of the forest and land rights has been going on since decades. In response to the actions of the forest department and government officials Kaimur Mukti Morcha (KMM) was formed during 1980s under the leadership of Dr. Vinayan, a legendary thinker and organiser of landless and poor Adivasi-Dalit peasants.

On 1974, Dr Vinayan, an MBBS from Agra Medical College who made Jehanabad district of Bihar as his place of his work in 1974. Dr Vinayan was a compatriot of the dynamic leader Jayaprakash Narayan who was at the forefront of the struggle against the draconian Emergency invoked by then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi from 1975 to 1977. Dr Vinayan spent his next 32 years in Bihar, living among the poor, oppressed and became a part of their life. His work prompted Lal Bahadur Shastri Administrative Academy to invite him, time and again, to deliver lectures to Indian Administrative Service (IAS) probationers. His inputs were eagerly sought by the Planning Commission, who nominated him to an advisory committee and even the mandarins at the Prime Minister’s Office sought his opinion. Dr. Vinayan strictly advocated democratic and peaceful means to assert the rights of the oppressed communities.

Figure 1: Dr. Vinayan

Kaimur Mukti Morcha (KMM) was associated with the Jan Mukti Andolan (JMA) initiated by Dr. Vinayan and Dr. B.D. Sharma. KMM and JMM fought against Zamindari system and advocated for the land rights of the oppressed communities. But on the question of forest rights a national level forum was formed in 1996 by Dr. Vinayan, Ashok Chaudhary, D. Thankappan, Roma Malik and Bharti Roy Chaudhary. The forum was named as National Forum of Forest People and Workers (NFFPW). Later in 2013, this forum culminated into All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP). Through this platform addressing the implementation of the Forest Rights Act on the ground was the priority. With such ideological foundations and rich historical past, activists associated with KMM have been striving to protect the rights of the Adivasi people on ground.

In 2006, after a long struggle of the forest-dwelling communities of India, the ‘Scheduled Tribes, Traditional, Pastoral and Other Forest Dweller Communities were recognised under the Forest Rights Act (FRA). FRA, 2006 was passed in the Parliament of India to ‘undo the historical injustices’ suffered by Adivasi and other forest dwelling communities. It put in place a three-stage process by which the rights of traditional and other forest dwellers were to be recorded and recognized. It listed thirteen types of rights, including rights over land being cultivated, rights to non-timber forest produce, and most crucially, the right to protect and conserve forests which no Indian law had ever recognized as a right before. It also provided immense legal support to the forest-dwelling communities, allowing a proper process for rehabilitation in cases of their eviction and several other protective laws. The objective of this historic legislation was to eradicate the continuing ‘Historic Injustice’ carried on Adivasis and other forest dwelling communities.  However, its ineffective implementation on the ground made the oppressed Adivasi and other forest dwelling communities more vulnerable to attacks from different sections. Thus, historic injustice still continues by obstructing effective implementation of the Act.

Though the Forest Rights Act, 2006, has been in existence for 14 years, the Bihar government has not shown any political will to implement this law on the ground. The Adivasis of Kaimur district are tired of the false promises made to them by the government of Bihar. To assert their birth and constitutional rights, they organised a 2-day sit-in dharna demonstration at the Adhaura block on the 10th and 11th of September 2020 in Adhaura Block, Kaimur District, Bihar. Activists of KMM had staged the sit-in demonstration to demand legal rights over water, forest and land.

SEQUENCE OF THE INCIDENT

On 10th September 2020, thousands of Adivasis including women, men, youth and children from 108 villages of Adhaura Block mobilised in front of the forest department office at Adhaura. The dharna began peacefully at Birsa Munda Smarak Sthal. More than ten thousand pamphlets of this dharna were distributed since August 2020, and government and forest department officials were intimated about the dharna.

The members of Kaimur Mukti Morcha made the following demands:

  • Implement Forest Rights Act 2006.
  • Declare Kaimur as a Scheduled area as per the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution. Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 to be implemented effectively.
  • The administrative reorganisation of Kaimur Valley.
  • Scrap the 1927 colonial Indian Forest Act.
  • Implement the Chhota Nagpur Tenancy Act.
  • Abolish the proposed Kaimur Forest Wildlife Sanctuary and Tiger Reserve.

The administration did not pay heed to these demands. No one from the district authorities came forward to even have a dialogue with the community. In the evening at around 6 pm, as there was no response from the authorities, the Adivasis, in fear of losing their ancestral land, forest and water, locked the gates of the forest department office. This constituted a symbolic gesture of their protest to make their voices of oppression heard.  

On 11th September 2020, the sit-in dharna continued. The forest department officials came, broke the locks and entered the department building. Post noon, the Adivasis decided reaching out to the forest department officials to initiate a dialogue. But when the delegated representatives went inside the office, they were abused and man-handled by officials who were present. Later on, and quite suddenly, more police poured in, along with CRPF personnel, and unleased a brutal assault on the Adivasis. The police opened fire and lathi-charged the protesters. During this period, an Adivasi named Prabhu from Chaphana village was shot by a police bullet, the bullet went through his ear and took a chunk of his ear’s muscle tissue. Police lathi-charged Adivasi women, men, youths and children viciously and many were injured which went unreported.

Police brutality continued in the aftermath of this incident as well. Kaimur Mukti Morcha’s office in Adhaura was ransacked by police and seven activists were arrested on false charges. The arrested activists were first kept in police custody and later presented in front of the judicial magistrate of Kaimur district. All the activists namely; Sipahi Singh, 65 years from Goiyan, Dharmender Singh, 25 years from Bardihya, Pappu Paswan, 23 years from Jharpa, Lallan Singh Kharwa, 45 years from Baraap, Kailash Singh, 62 from Bardiha, Ram Shakal Singh Kharwar, age 52 years from Goiyan and Haricharan Singh, age 65 from Sarainar. All of them were arrested and were sent to judicial custody.

All seven activists were charged under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections;

144/148/147/323/307/353/332/333/337/338/342 and 427.

The Police filed an FIR against seven Kaimur Mukti Morcha Activists on September 11, 2020 around 2:15 PM. The FIR has been lodged under sections 147 (Punishment for Rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 145 (Joining or continuing in unlawful assembly, knowing it has been commanded to disperse), 323 (Punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 307 (Attempt to murder), 353 (Assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 332 (Voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), 333 (Voluntarily causing grievous hurt to deter public servant from his duty), 337 (Causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) 338 (Causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others), 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 427 (Mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees), 342 (Punishment for wrongful confinement) of the Indian Penal Code and section 427 (Punishment for possessing arms, etc, with intent to use them for unlawful purposes) of the Arms Act.

(Note: On the 16th of October 2020, all seven activists were granted bail.)

INTERACTIONS WITH THE COMMUNITY

The fact-finding team visited 7 villages of Adhaura Block, Kaimur District, Bihar. Details of the block are given below:

Name of the Block:                            Adhaura
Revenue Villages:                              108
Total Geographical Area (ha):         80578.49
Total Population:                               57100 (100%)
Male Population:                               29646 (51.9%)
Female Population:                           27454 (48.1%)
Sex Ratio:                                           926
Population (0-6 years):                     11962 (20.9%)
Scheduled Castes:                             7385 (12.93%)
Scheduled Tribes:                              29680 (51.98%)
Total Literate Population:                25431 (56.34%)
Male Literate Population:                16232 (68.96%)
Female Literate Population:            9199 (42.59%)

(Source: Census 2011, Govt. of India)

Figure 2: Map of Adhaura Block, Kaimur District, Bihar
(Source: Kaimur District Census 2011 Handbook)
Figure 3: Map of the villages visited by the fact-finding team
(Source: Google Maps)

The seven villages visited are listed below, with their population characteristics and land use figures:

Table 1: Population and land characteristics – 7 villages of Adhaura Block
(Source: Census 2011, Govt. of India)

Kaimur was carved out from the Rohtas district of Bihar in 1993. Kaimur district falls within the Kaimur Plateau which is part of the Kaimur Range. It consists of a series of descending plateaux. It is part of the Vindhya Range surrounded by Baghelkhand mountain range and Chota Nagpur Plateau. Kaimur district consist of two sub-district headquarters, namely: Bhabua subdivision and Mohaniya Sub-division. Adhaura is one of the eleven community development blocks of Kaimur district.

Adhaura Block is situated at a height of 2000 feet from the sea level on Kaimur Plateau and covers a total geographical area of 80578 hectares. According to the Indian Census Data of 2011, the total population of Adhaura Block is 57,100 with a sex ratio of 926 women per 1000 men. 51% of its population belongs to Schedule Tribe. Most of the Schedule Tribe populace belongs to the Kharwar community. Adhaura Block consist of 108 revenue villages. Only 72 villages have education facilities, 11 villages have medical facilities. 22 villages dispose of transports and communication infrastructures, 13 villages have access to banking services and only 2 were declared to have power supply in 2011. Post COVID-19 pandemic, none of these facilities were operational except one primary health facility at Adhaura Block.

The fact-finding team reached Kaimur district on the 23rd of September 2020. On meeting with the activists, it was realised that 7 Adivasi men were arrested by the police, 29 other Adivasi activists were charged and falsely implicated. After the meeting, the team headed towards Adhaura Block.

During the journey, while interacting with one of the activists of KMM, it was realised that the Adivasi community practices subsistence farming and grows rice, ground nut, arhar and various vegetables.  The Kharwar and other tribal community is highly dependent on the forest. They have an in depth and detailed knowledge about various orchids, orchards and other trees, plants, shrubs and herbs from which they make medicines, food, colours and these are sources of livelihood. The Adivasis informed the team that the forest is their soul and without it their identity is incomplete. Therefore, they will fight with anyone who tries to take away their livelihood and identity.

On the 24th of September, the fact-finding team visited Biduri Village, Adhaura Panchayat, Adhaura Block, Kaimur District.  The team met the family members of Subhash Singh Kharwar, one of the accused as per the (FIR No. 71/20). The team had a dialogue with his mother Ganga Jali Devi, age 59 years old younger sister Phulan Kumari, 17 years and younger brother, Vinay Singh 18 years. The family accuses police officials of misbehaving and barging into their house without any search warrant or any document.

The police officials were on a look out for Subhash and his younger brother Chanderashok Singh Kharwar, as they were accused under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections;

144/148/147/323/307/353/332/333/337/338/427 and 342.

The mother and sister of Subhash were not part of the sit-in dharna demonstration yet they were harassed. On 12th of September, the police officials (all men) barged into their home, and at that moment, there were no male members present in the household. Subhash is a lecturer of philosophy in a state-run college. His mother informed us that after the death of her husband, she struggled to raise her children and educate them. She also categorically stated how she was entirely dependent on forest when she was struggling to raise her children. She also mentioned how Subhash, despite his job as a lecturer, is still very much connected with the people of Adhaura and continuously raises his voice to defend their land, forest and water resources. She said that they would not able to survive without the forest. But the forest department continuously threatens and harasses locals whenever they encounter them in forest. She also mentioned that the forest department puts unreasonable fines when they meet them while they are collecting Non-Timber Forest Produce (NTFP) and firewood, snatch their tools and sometimes take their livestock without their consent. Unfortunately, instead of listening to the people’s grievances, the government is muzzling their voices.

It is important to note that the police officials violated Article 19 (Right to Freedom) and Article 20(3) (Protection against Self Incrimination) of the Indian Constitution. The police officials misused their power and section 165 under Code of Criminal Procedure (CPC).

The team interacted with the other members of the village Biduri. They reiterated the same point that police officials along with CRPF personnel ransacked their village. The villagers were threatened and verbally abused. When the team asked them why the police officials and CRPF personnel were misbehaving in such a manner, the villagers responded stating that it was due to the two-day sit-in dharna demonstration at Adhaura block. Many people of that village shared their ordeal that they went to express their grief and sorrow to their elected government and in return they received police batons and bullets.

The team visited Bardiha village Adhaura Panchayat and met Hira Singh Kharwar father of Dharmendra Singh. Dharmendra Singh, 25-year-old Kharwar Adivasi youth who was booked under similar charges along with Subhash and his younger brother. He is associated with KMM and was part of the democratically organised two-day sit-in dharna at Adhaura Block. The villagers reiterated the point that the activists associated with KMM were elders and village leaders who followed proper procedures of finalizing venue and took permission from the respective local administration. The intention of the Adivasi community from 108 villages of Adhaura Block was to have a dialogue with the administration over gross violation and non-implementation of Forest Rights Act of 2006, Panchayats Extension of Schedule Areas Act of 1996 and Chota Nagpur Tenancy Act. All these acts are constitutional rights of the Schedule Tribes of India. However, on the 11th of September, the police and local administration attacked villagers in a very planned manner at the protest site. The police officials mercilessly and indiscriminately showered batons, guns and bullets against the peaceful Adivasi protestors.

One of the women Ramraji Kharwar, showed us the injuries she sustained during police lathi-charge. She stated that the government, forest department and police officials were trying to terrorise the Adivasi people, so that they hand over their ancestral land to the government. The women also shared how the forest is an integral part in the life of the people of the community, and their interdependence with the forest. She was very vocal and assertive about the claims for land and forest rights.

The government wants to sell our land to the big corporates but I shall inform the government that until my very death I will fight for my land, forest and water.” Ramraji Devi, (Adivasi Woman from Bardiha village).

The team met Kavindra Singh a local journalist from Bardiha village. He was on his official duty to cover the two-day sit-in dharna for the local Hindi newspaper Dainik Jagran. He too highlighted that the two-day sit-in dharna for the local democratic exercise to peacefully demonstrate against oppressive anti-people laws. He equally stated that the activists of KMM took permission from the police department regarding the venue, maintenance of law and order during the two-day sit-in protest dharna. Kavindra Singh shared his version of the incident to the team. He stated that during the protest, the villager realized that despite the fact that public servants are meant to serve the citizens of this country, they did not even bother to come and listen to the grievances of the people. The protesters unanimously decided to put a lock on the already locked forest ranger’s office. The next day, as per the plan, they assembled at the same venue and some of the volunteers went to see the locked forest and police departments, and found out that it was broken. Nobody bothered to come to listen to the people who gathered from 108 villages and to their demands. When the people then entered the ranger’s office, and tried to have a dialogue but suddenly without any warning, the police lathi charged on helpless villagers, and the violence from the police forces escalated to the point that women and children were also badly beaten. The people then heard the sound of 4 to 5 bullets being shot at the group. Within a couple of hours, the Divisional Forest Officers, Rangers and ThanaPrabhari (Police Station In-charge) reached Adhaura.

Figure 4: Meeting at Bardhia Village
(Photo Courtesy: Delhi Solidarity Group)

The team headed towards Goiyan Village, Dumrawan panchayat. The village members also belong to the Kharwar Adivasi. The villagers shared that approximately 100 people from Goiyan were part of the dharna. The team also met Phoolmatiya and Samudri, both who had faced police assaults. Phoolmatiya was injured on her chest. Sipahi (65-year-old) and Ramshakal Singh (65-year-old) were also arrested. They were called by Superintendent of Police and the Subdivisional Officer under the pretext of having a dialogue but were arrested around 5pm on the 12 of September in the police office and were sent to police custody in Adhaura.

The fact-finding team then met the working secretary of KMM, Rajalal Singh Kharwar. He mentioned that the ruling party has persistently tried to saffronise the history of Kaimur Adivasis in order to divide them and jeopardize their agenda. He equally discussed about the struggles of Santhal and about the rich history of the 4 million-year-old Kaimur hills. He told the team that the government was trying to evict the Adivasis from their ancestral land because of the presence of the Kaimur Wildlife Sanctuary, which is on the verge of becoming the Valmiki Tiger Reserve (VTR). On that matter, Mr. Rajalal Singh Kharwar stated:

Despite spending most of the time in these dense forests every day for years, none of us have ever sighted or confronted a tiger here. The proposal to declare the sanctuary as a tiger reserve is nothing but an attempt to grab our land and evict us from here.” Raja Lal Singh Kharwar, Working Secretary, KMM.

Figure 5: Community People of the Goiyan Village
(Photo Courtesy: Delhi Solidarity Group)

Raja Lal Singh also shared about the Adivasis’ symbiotic relationship with the forest and its ecosystem. He made the observation that the wildlife was migrating from the forests because of the loss of forest cover, caused by the activities of the government and the forest departments, encroaching on the land of Adivasi people and degrading the environment. He stated that the government had to take responsibility for the loss of forest cover instead of alienating the people from forest resources in the name of conservation.

Even if there were traces of tiger presence in this forest, we are not afraid of it, as we have historically co-existed with wildlife. We won’t allow anyone to displace us. It is a do-or-die situation for us” Raja Lal Singh Kharwar, Working Secretary, KMM.

Kharwar said that the vulnerable tribal communities were left with no option but to boycott the polls, as the authorities, instead of listening to them, used force when they staged a sit-in at Adhaura block this year to demand their legal rights over water, forest and land. In addition, the brutal police actions infuriated the protesters who also fought back. The peaceful protest escalated in violence, one activist suffered bullet injuries and several faced arrests. The police also broke the locks of the Kaimur Mukti Morcha’s office and conducted raids there. It has now become a routine affair that the activists are arrested and branded as Maoists. Despite police violence and use of the state force, Kharwar added that that they will continue their fight using democratic means. He, along with six other people, have been booked in the past under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and under Section 27 of The Arms Act, 1959 for unlawful gathering, among others.

This is a tribal dominated area. But the government has divided the entire area into eight blocks in two districts to ensure non-inclusion of the region in Schedule V. We demand an administrative reorganisation of the hills and creation of two blocks only for the tribal population so that our area can be included in Schedule V.” Raja Lal Singh Kharwar, Working Secretary, KMM.

On 24th evening, the team went to meet the family of Haricharan Singh s/o Ganesh Singh, a 65-year-old Adivasi from Sarainar village, Chanpura Panchayat. Haricharan Singh was severely injured on his head during the protest, but he was still arrested despite his age and head injuries. The team were told by the villagers of Sarainar that he was taken to conduct a medical examination in the hospital in Bhabhua and then was sent to a quarantine judicial custody detention centre under judicial custody at Vikramganj which is 50 km away from Bhabhua. His family was worried and didn’t know anything about his whereabouts. Sarainar village has also been constantly facing the brutality of the forest department, which is not allowing them to collect forest wood and forest produce. The forest officials are not even allowing the building of mud houses, that are systematically destroyed. It was also reported by the villagers that the officials from the forest department also takes away the livestock of the Adivasis without their consent. Villagers have many grievances against the local administration and the state government in the village as a result of these violent actions.

The team members observed on their way back that the road infrastructures were really poor in the area, and that there equally a lack of ambulance services. Schools were shut due to corona and there was no facility of online or remedial classes. The team also saw mud houses of Adivasis which had been destroyed by the forest department arbitrarily.  All the claims of the current government about good governance, inclusivity and development was felt on the ground like a big ‘Jumla’ (lie).

On 25th of September, the team headed towards Chaphana Village, Sadki Panchayat, to visit the residence of the injured person Prabhu who was shot at and sustained a bullet injury on his ear. When the team reached his village, the entire village seemed to be antagonised. The villagers were in fear and anxiety. It took some time to have a conversation with the villagers because they were suspecting that the team was from the forest department. The kind of fear that people have for forest department officials speaks volumes about the situation on ground and the accountability of government officials. There was a huge sense of suspicion and insecurity. The villagers thought that the fact-finding team was there to arrest the person who was shot in his ears. Out of fear, the individual who was shot by the police bullet disappeared and his family refused to speak openly to the team. The team tried to ease off the tension but were unable to speak in detail-length with anyone. Fortunately, after couple of hours, some villagers did confess about the sheer brutality which they had experienced in the hands of the police and forest officials on the 11th of September. They also informed the team that other players with vested interest such as some prominent organizations or institutions mediate between the forest officials and the villagers. They work in connivance with forest department and try to build pressure on villagers to allow forest officials to oppress the people and intimidate them. Villagers told us that the forest department abuses them, make derogatory comments such as “Jungle tere baap ka hai kya” (does the forest belong to your father?). The villagers stated that they would better die fighting for their rights than giving up the forest to the forest department, as it constitutes an integral part in their existence and dignity. They said that they submitted their claims for their rights on the forest land years ago but did not hear anything from the block and district administration.

After that meeting with the villagers, the team visited another village, Jharpa village, Adhaura Panchayat. The team visited the house of an individual who was Pappu Paswan one of the 7 Adivasi men arrested on false charges. The team spoke with the mother (Shradha Devi) who seemed to be in pain and grief about her son being in jail during the COVID-19 crisis. She stated that it is unjust to keep someone who was only asking for his rights in jail. She kept on weeping in-front of the team and begged the team to get her son out from jail.

On 26th of September morning, the team visited Gulu village, Athan Panchayat. Pramod Oraon a youth from the village reported about the police brutality and the atrocities the forest officials imposed on them on a regular basis. He highlighted the fact that how forest officials ask for bribes for the Adivasis to be able to cultivate their agricultural fields and threatened them if they refuse. It was also observed that the claims made by the villagers under the Forest Rights Act, 2006, were not drafted adequately and did not receive response from government officials. The villagers need support to make their individual and community claims properly.

By noon, the team headed back to Kaimur district head quarter and met the lawyer to discuss the bail applications.

ENGAGEMENT WITH THE LEGAL SYSTEM

On the 26th of September, 2020 by noon the team visited Bhabua and met with Adv. Chhatu Ram who was filling the anticipatory bail application of 22 accused out of 29 accused. In the past he was associated with Dr Vinayan and was also a part of many people’s rights movement. He stated that all the accused persons are been framed on very frivolous and concocted charges.

Regarding the 7 arrested persons in this case three lawyers will be fighting their case and will be applying for their bail. It was decided that proper coordination will be required among all the three advocates so that the Adivasi persons get justice and the persons can present their case appropriately. It was decided that if the bail applications of the arrested and accused persons were denied in Bhabua district court than advocated will move to Patna High court.

It was planned that the legal team will facilitate for court monitored inquiry about police brutality and atrocities against the peaceful protesters. The team will be approaching State Human Rights Commission and National Human Rights Commission for an inquiry. It was decided by the team should file counter complaint cases against those officials who ordered police firing and lathi-charge on the peaceful protesters.

OBSERVATIONS

The president of the KMM, Balkeshwar Singh Kharwar, claimed that people in Goiyan village in Adhaura block had already been forcibly displaced by the forest department and police during the lockdown. In Sarainar, he alleged, the forest department officials destroyed all 50 houses. “Government officials have been pressuring the villagers in Gulu by digging pits on their farm lands under the garb of carrying out afforestation,” he alleged.

Such practices of the forest department in cohort with the government officials of Adhaura Block is a gross violation of the Forest Rights Act 2006, which recognises and vests forest rights on Scheduled Tribes (STs) and other traditional forest dwellers. He also added that some government officials ask for bribes which impacts their livelihood and day to day survival. They said they were being harassed and arrested when they plucked tendu leaves (used in bidi-making) and other medicinal plants from the forest for selling them for survival.

Figure 6: A medicinal tree in Jharpa Village.
(Photo Courtesy: Delhi Solidarity Group)

Section 4(1) of the Forest Rights Act categorically mentions that no member of a forest dwelling Scheduled Tribe or other traditional forest dwellers shall be evicted or removed from forest land under his occupation. According to the Act, even a plantation drive in the forest requires approval from the Gram Sabha. In Bihar, according to the data from the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (Status report on implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, for the period ending 31.3.2020), 8022 individual forest rights claims have been registered until March 2020, out of which only 121 titles have been distributed. No data is available on community forest rights claims, and it is clear from the situation on the ground that the Act is not effectively implemented in the State.

This is also a violation of the Supreme Court judgment in the case of Odisha Mining Corporation Vs Ministry of Forest and Environment and others (c) No. 180 of 2011, which clearly states that the Gram Sabha is the owner of the natural resources; therefore, the common land, sacred groves and forest and forest land of the villages cannot be acquired without the consent of the Gram Sabhas, the activists alleged.

We have already lost a huge portion of land in the Durgawati and Haraiya dams. When these two dams were constructed, the forest department was given around 5,000 hectares in this forest. It severely impacted our dwellings,” Bal Kishwar Singh Kharwar.

A major source of livelihood is being denied, but no political leader is speaking on it. As a result, the people of Kaimur Rohtas mountain are going to be destroyed. But politicians do not want to discuss this issue even remotely. This means that do not find that the suffering of the people is worth fighting for. Today, the forest department is preparing to displace the people of the entire mountain in the name of the tiger reserve.

Thus, the discussion among the Adivasis in that area emerged about the boycott of the election 2020, instead of choosing a representative to make their point known to the government. What the people have realized is that elected leaders have not been accountable to them and that they were not willing to take up the issues faced by the Adivasis. In their views, it is very important to take this step, in order to make their voices heard and resist this autocratic government, which is implementing anti-people policies.

Recommendations made by the Fact-Finding team:

  • Implementation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006 should be implemented effectively and speedily in the proper spirit that the Act was envisioned.
  • Scrapping 1927, colonial Indian Forest Right Act. Declare Kaimur a Scheduled area under Panchayat (Extension Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996.
  • Unconditional release of all arrested activists and quashing the FIR against all the accused people charged under false cases. 
  • A judicial inquiry should be facilitated by the state government of Bihar regarding the police firing and lathi charge incident on the peaceful Adivasi protestors in Adhaura block.
  • State government should compensate the persons who were charged on false cases and were injured by police firing and lathi-charged.
  • All the perpetrated officials who had fired and lathi-charged on the peaceful Adivasi protestors should be arrested and sent to jail.

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Click here to download the Fact Finding Report with Annexures (Copy of FIR, Arrest Memos, Statement of Forester, Additional FIR etc.).

October, 2020

Members of the fact-finding team:
Medha Patkar, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)
Mani Mala, Activist, Writer
Sandeep Pandey, Socialist Party (India)
Advocate Ehtesham Hashmi, Supreme Court of India
Faisal Khan, Khudai Khidmatgar and NAPM
Joe Athialy, Delhi Solidarity Group
Amit Kumar, Delhi Solidarity Group
Hansraj, Narmada Bachao Andolan
Anand Athialy, Student

Introduction

After 14 years, on the same date, i.e., September 29th, Since the Khairlanji murder took place in the Chandrapur district of Maharashtra, we have witnessed the Hathras incident, rape and murder of another Dalit victim. These atrocities that have been taking place across India are a result of cumulative effect of caste & gender, inequality & injustice.

The episode in Hathras, with a native Dalit girl, 19 years old, let’s call her Dasya, in village Bulgarhi is however entangled in a controversy but also in the casteist politics, denying the facts narrated by the family of the victim and openly accusing them of lying and honour killing. This was so shocking yet unexpected and unimaginable even to all those, individuals and organisations, who are already aware and disturbed by the repression and violence witnessed in Uttar Pradesh over last few years. It is in this context that we, as representatives of National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), a team of senior activists and our supporters decided to visit the area, listen to the victim’s family members and others, and conclude on the real facts and analysis of the brutal atrocity case not merely in the legal but socio-economic-political framework. Our intention has also been to raise voice against the inhumanity and extend our support to Dasya’s family to fight the battle amidst feudal-casteist environs and politics.

We, a team of nine members, reached village Bulgarhi around 1 pm on 9th October. Before we could pass through the police cordon and barricades, we were stopped that no more than five members can go together to meet the victim’s family. After writing applications addressed to the Sub-Divisional Magistrate in two teams of 5 and 4, we were allowed to go and meet the victim’s family. The first team was provided a police vehicle to reach the Dasya’s house, one and half kilometres away, while the second team had to walk. While the second team was waiting for the return of the first team, saffron turban cladded Akhil Bhartiya Kshatriya Mahasabha activists also arrived with posters stuck on their vehicles with message written that they were there only to meet the ‘victim’ Thakur family. They were about ten to twelve people. They argued with police to go together and after much debate, they were allowed to go together inside the village. One of the vehicles with them carried the flag of Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party, the breakaway faction from Samajwadi Party formed by Shivpal Yadav (See pictures attached).

Some of us sat inside, met and heard the vivid details of the incidence, the past and the post facto events as well. Bulgarhi, a village with more than 600 families, has a small group of about 15 Dalit families as a minority living since generation but experiencing a number of repressive acts and atmosphere over decades. The upper caste families of Thakurs, who have support of, have used services of Dalit families as agricultural labourers and in other ways. Some awakening has taken place among Dalits over decades.

Dasya’s family through her father, was allotted 5 bighas of land by Mayawati’s government in 1990s. However, till today, they are in physical possession of only three and half bighas while the rest is apparently encroached upon by some Brahmin family. They have small supplementary income from cattle rearing, through sale of milk.

Relations between the neighbours have long been strained. Nearly 20 years ago, the Thakur family had attacked Dasya’s grandfather. “They came into our field to graze their buffalos and my grandfather requested them to take the animals elsewhere as our crops would get damaged. Angered that a Dalit could tell them this, they attacked him with a knife-like object. When my grandfather tried to protect his neck, the knife cut away his fingers,” Dasya’s brother said.[1]

Vir, the police chief, said Ravi had been involved in the attack on Dasya’s grandfather, while Sandeep had a history of “high alcohol consumption”. Ravi’s father confirmed that he had been jailed in connection with the attack on Dasya’s grandfather.[2]

However, there was neither a conflict nor any incidence of fight that had occurred between the families of the accused and Dasya during last two decades. The brutal assault of September 14th was therefore totally unexpected and unwarranted for the whole family.

The Incidence

On the day of September 14th, 2020, Dasya went to the field as usual with her mother and brother Satyendra Kumar for fetching grass for the cattle. Satyendra returned home with a bundle of grass, leaving the women alone. Dasya was dragged to a farm belonging to accused family, about 50 feet away but inside standing crops of Bajra by the men, as was later narrated by Dasya. On finding her missing, Dasya’s mother went on a desperate search and was totally shocked to find her body uncovered, wounded, bleeding on the ground. Screaming, her mother covered her body with a part of her Saree and found a boy nearby to send a message to Dasya’s brother, Satyendra. He rushed to the spot on a bike and the body was taken to the Chandpa police station and then to the Balga Hospital in Hathras.

The family is aware of the accused, Sandeep, Ravi, Ram, Lavkush from the upper caste Thakur family, staying in front of them in the same lane of the village, as those who are used to drinking &intoxication. They were with Lavkush, their relative and all the four were involved in rape & assaulting Dasya. They strangulated her resulting in serious neurological disability, her spinal cord affected and she was unable to move her body, which had almost become paralytic. She couldn’t speak & was unconscious.

Dasya was brought to the Balga Hospital but the doctors were not briefed by police nor did any policeman or official did any investigation as per all the family members, Dasya’s mother, brother, father, sister-in-law (Bhabhi) and Bhabhi’s brother. This was absolutely necessary for any further investigation and action under section 375 of IPC as is known to the administration but not carried out.

Almost nothing happened in 24 hours and she was again shifted to Aligarh hospital when she was still almost unconscious and her tongue was bitten and broken not allowing her to speak a word. It was in Aligarh JLNMCH hospital, the relatives heard, the doctors exclaiming that they didn’t know from where had the case been brought to them and for what! The family since the beginning felt that the doctors and employees there were under enormous pressure! They did give the basic treatment and everyone from the family was of course most worried about Dasya’s struggle for survival and nothing else at that moment.

Dasya came to a little consciousness for some time after a day or two and narrated her story to her mother, taking names of the four culprits, referring to rape and brutal assault too. The family members who were no doubt worried about their prestige, without giving any evidence of ego or arrogance, couldn’t keep quiet. They called the doctors, sisters, and relatives of other patients, present in the ward too… and the reality came into the public domain.

Dasya came into some consciousness, yet not fully, when the Aligarh hospital, appearing to her family members as trying to get rid of the case by transferring to another hospital. The doctors there had categorically referred to AIIMS and not any other. The family too agreed and they could never protest or nor suggest anything to the powerful in any case. The whole systemic force was active around them with no space to manoeuvre, nor much support.

The supporters who reached out to the family and official members who could attend to them included the collector and all officials in Hathras, …but none of the higher ups in the state administration from Lucknow. The members of Parliament from the same constituency, who too belongs to a Dalit community was not vocal in favour of the victim, rather he gave an unclear statement. Bhim Army chief Chandrashekar Azad visited Dasya at the Aligarh hospital after evading the police on the evening of September 27.

It was Shyoraj Jivan known to be a staunch defender of dalit rights, and a leading activist from Valmiki Samaj came to not just meet, console and give immediate support but also to be active in the long-term legal battle which is unavoidable in such cases and the politics. He has been active at the national level and with Valmiki community. He got furious to hear the story and the history.

Some doctors in Aligarh were of the opinion that Dasya should not be moved till she became conscious. The family too refused, realising that it was risky to shift her far in that condition. She was in severe pain and couldn’t move her neck or back due to severe nervous injury affecting the spine. The false allegation that Dasya’s family didn’t permit the administration to take her to AIIMS does therefore stand exposed and countered. Why this allegation again? It is however, shocking that the doctors, who must have checked her whole body, didn’t examine anything related to sexual assault, nor did they enquire with her family till she herself brought out the truth. This passage, rather wastage, of time could be deliberate since late examination couldn’t ever prove rape. The intention obviously could be to miss or lose evidence forever. A copy of the Medico Legal Case report, which was not made available to the family immediately, mentions penetration of vagina by penis as well as the report from the Forensic department of the same University which rules out this possibility are attached.

The statement recorded of Dasya, however, is her dying declaration as per law and nothing else. It is, therefore, obvious that the police had to take the four accused into custody. For this too, they had to hunt a lot until someone reported their hiding in a nearby village. With a large population aggressive and arrogant but active role of their caste was known from the statements.

By then, it had come out that Dasya was being harassed by the accused men from the family, Sandeep and others since past 6 months. She was once pulled by him near the field but had escaped. The family, however, was very categorical in refusing to accept the false story of some communication as also relation between Sandeep and Dasya who were in touch through phones and therefore she was killed by her own family, which was honour killing! They, especially, the women, Dasya’s mother, sister and Bhabhi appeared to be pained even when they had to hear the same and respond to questions from the media as well as supporters.

Shyoraj Jivan was one who spoke out in anguish and anger and made a statement to some media in the same mood that if anyone happens to look at Dalit girls with wrong intention, his eyes would be popped out! We hear such kind of statements by many in politics that is violent especially when is based on casteism and communalism that goes unpunished! However, Shyoraj Jivan was arrested and is still in jail. None of the Dasya’s family members approved Shyoraj Jivan’s statement threatening violence but they certainly feel that their only supporter from Valmiki community, to which they belong, is kept away as a conspiracy.

Meanwhile other controversies over supporters too have arisen. One, of Dr. Jyoti Bansal, who, as an Ambedkarite, felt a need to reach out to Hathras and console as well as strengthen Dasya’s family’s will to stand up and fight for justice. She has been active on social issues and progressive people from Jabalpur are not surprised that she decided to reach out so far… “When she spoke to Babuji (father), he felt highly consoled. We could find him interacting with her and coming out of depression to an extent. We, therefore, requested her to stay back and she did. She also stayed for the second night on our insistence and changed the atmosphere in the hours, in spite of a large police force surrounding us for 24×7 and outsiders continuing to visit and question. When these are the facts, we feel sad that she is blamed as a Naxal.” Dasya’s Bhabhi, who is educated and articulate, said to us, with sadness in her breaking voice.

Another unjustifiable action taken recently, after stopping and manhandling Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi on their way to the victim’s family, which is an act in the series of actions, criminalising dissent and strangulating opposition in ‘democratic’ India. Thereafter arrest of one journalist of Union of working journalists from Kerala was also condemnable since we found police force not so aggressive or repressive during our visit although the questions raised outside and before the High Court in Uttar Pradesh regarding “illegal detention” imposed on the Dasya’s family might have compelled the UP administration to behave… The police to collector… all serving the Chief of Uttar Pradesh appear to have been served dictates, as known from our direct and indirect interaction with them, through various ways and means!

Another important phase commenced with Dasya taken to Safdarjung Hospital instead of AIIMS. “We were told, when asked, that AIIMS and Safdarjung are the same. We couldn’t argue as we are not educated nor knowledgeable about Delhi and the medical services.”

Dasya was treated inside. They told the family that she was in ICU but there was no one to explain them, console them and they didn’t hear about the police investigation while they were much harassed, with questions asked; with no answers given to their queries.

The family remembered how Dasya’s father was called to the District Magistrate in Hathras and questioned about the incidence. More than listening to his replies, an unclear message given to him on the very next day of the incidence that he and the family should convey to all about their being satisfied with the enquiry and the treatment both. This itself conveys the state was preparing to suppress the truth and close the case forever. Things changed after the civil society and a group of courageous media started raising the issue and bringing out the truth. No doubt the judiciary also had to hear, if not do justice, with due urgency, when the common citizens, not just activists also started reacting to the brutalities as well as the State’s misleading deeds and statements.

At the Safdarjung hospital, when Dasya succumbed to her injuries, all the family members sitting outside were simply informed by the police and made to face utter distress, grief and pain. Their consent was sought for Post Mortem process and nothing else was shared. They were then called and shown the body put inside the mortuary as to assure safety. None realised that the body in the hands of the administration, wherever stored, was unsafe. The shocking news a few hours later was that the police had taken away the body for cremation, without seeking their consent or opinion!

Whatever happened after this, the police sent the family in a van to Hathras but having stopped the vehicle away from the cremation ground, the women vehemently crying tried to stop and knock at the police vans but in vain. They wanted possession of Dasya’s body for their relatives, many of whom were yet to arrive, as also for other concerned since the brutal incidence was already in public debate and discussion on social as well as mainstream media. This was turned down by the police, who instead had cordoned the area of cremation and absolutely denied them any right or humane response to their demand for the body to perform final rites.

After a lot of public outrage and protests started happening at many places, the Uttar Pradesh Government announced the 25 lakh rupees compensation to the victim’s family. Though the unconfirmed update is that the father has received only 8-10 lakh rupees which one is supposed to get after registration of the case under SC/ST (PoA) Act, but when the Fact-Finding team were talking to the family, they said that they don’t want money and haven’t checked their accounts. “The money is of no use, if we don’t get justice”, said the family. On the same, the Allahabad High Court order says that if the family doesn’t accept it then DM should keep it in separate account and think how to best use it.

This act of administration-government was criticised by even Bhartiya Janta Party leaders like Uma Bharti who said that cremation without the presence of family members was against Hindu customs. Arvind Kejriwal made the most poignant comment that first it was four accused who raped Dasya and then the entire system raped her. Calling the incident “shameful and blasphemous”, BSP leader Mayawati last week asked the Adityanath government to pay attention.

There is no doubt that the police of Uttar Pradesh behaved in a highly suspicious as well as vicious manner, beyond anyone’s expectation and they have, thereby created all doubts about their intentions. The reasoning, which the state government was compelled to present, when there was condemnation coming in from all quarters, was that they wished to avoid violence by getting rid of the body. None can believe this as the police can’t, themselves, declare their inability to protect victim and to prevent any untoward incidence. Rather such an awfully inhuman and criminal act on the part of the state with no repentance, nor any response to our serious questions or legal challenge, has proved that the state itself wanted to suppress the issue with casteist, manuvadi and inhuman anti-woman elements exposed through this and other incidences in Unnao, Balarampur, or Azamgarh cases, before and after.

All this and much more has brought out the violent to vulgar politics in Uttar Pradesh which is protecting and promoting all such sections of population such as the upper caste oppressive forces, that are blatantly violating legal, Constitutional and human rights. In this case too, the matter before the Court through various petitions, need to be taken up.

[Note: The team visited Bulgarhi village (Hathras, Uttar Pradesh) and met the family and relatives of victim on 9th October, 2020.]

Click here to download the Fact Finding Report with Images, and medical reports.