18, Jun 2018 | CJP Team
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has intervened asking SP, Sonbhadra and the District Magistrate to explain their action of llegal detention of tribal women and men arrested from Sonbhadra, UP on June 6. All those arrested are active with the All Indian Union of Forest Working Peoples (AIUFWP).
Roma and other representatives from AIUFWP, including its Vice President, Teesta Setalvad met the Registrar, NHRC, Mr. Surajit Dey on June 14 to report to him the continued and grave violations of human rights of the tribal people of Sonbhadra, whose only crime appears to be that they had recently filed claims on forest land as per the Community resource claims made available through Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006, at the Roberstganj district office on March 23. On June 6, soon after they had submitted a representation on police atrocities to UP Forest Minister, Dara Singh Chauhan and were returning from Lucknow, the illegal detentions took place. A fresh lot of fabricated cases have now been lodged against the activists and leaders.
The union members of the AIUFWP under the able leadership of Roma handed over a letter to the registrar highlighting the seriousness of arresting activists in an illegal and undemocratic manner, going against the essence of the provisions of the FRA, 2006. The meeting between NHRC registrar and AIUFWP leaders was made possible due to CJP’s interventions.
Sukalo Gond, the treasurer of AIUFWP, along with Kismatiya Gond and Sukhdev Gond were arrested in a clandestine manner from Chopan station, Sonbhadra, just as they were returning after a meeting with the state forest minister, Dara Singh Chauhan and Forest Secretary in Lucknow on June 6. Sukhdev Gond is resident of village Lilasi and was first beaten up by SO SP Singh Muirpur. Kismatiya Gond is the new secretary of Forest rights committee, she too was badly beaten up by police. The police had entered homes and reportedly assaulted Adivasi women and children on May 19 when Sukalo was in Lucknow at a training workshop. Both Sukalo’s and Kismatiya’s names are reportedly not included in the FIRs, further making their incarceration illegal and unlawful.A fabricated FIR was filed by Sonbhadra police on 24 people by slapping some very serious charges such as 307 IPC, 7 Criminal Act along with various sections of IPC and Indian Forest Act.
Earlier, CJP appealed to its members to call the DGP, Uttar Pradesh, Om Prakash Singh at 0522-2206104, SP, Sonbhadra at 9454400304, DM, Sonbhadra, Amit Kumar Singh at 9454417569, Forest Minister Dara Singh Chauhanat 09455073877 and demand that the Adivasi human rights defenders, Sukalo, Kismatiya and Sukhdev are released.
CJP has been closely following how Adivasi women of Sonbhadra are being systematically bullied and harassed. Many of them face fake cases filed on false or trumped up charges.
We are fighting for the human rights defenders in court, and also intervening in everyday episodes of institutional violence in the area. Please donate generously to support these efforts.
It was while they were returning after addressing their grievances by the Tribeni Express on June 8, to their respective villages that the UP Police stopped them at the Chopan Railway station in Sonbhadra and arrested them. They were not allowed to talk to their family members and neither to their lawyers. The family members understandably panicked and for 24hrs their where-abouts were not known. It was only after the Union President and Ex Women Commission President Arunanchal Pradesh Ms. JarjumEte and Vice President of AIUFWP and CJP Secretary Teesta Setalvad called upon the DM and SP repeatedly to inquire out the whereabouts of the three tribal women and men that they were told that they have been sent to jail.
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The arrests have been made in connection with the incidents of violence unleashed by Uttar Pradesh Police and Forest Department in Village Lilasi, Block Muirpur, P.S Muirpur, District Sonbhadar, UP on May 21, 2018, many tribal (Adivasi) women were badly injured. The police barged into the houses of tribal people on the morning of May 21, supposedly acting on false allegations that they had ‘cut trees and destroyed the forest’.
On CJP and AIUFWP’s initiative the NHRC issued a notice to DM and SP Sonbhadra in this matter. (Case No.: 13436/24/69/2018)
Letter to NHRC: June 14
The letter to NHRC, dated June 14 notes, “Sokalo Gond arrested woman activist is from village Majholi that is around 30km away from Village Lilasi and was not present in the place of the incident. Her arrest and filing cases on her is completely illegal and against the DK Basu guidelines. Besides, according to the information gathered by her husband when he visited her in jail, she is not even named in the FIR yet arrested!”
The letter highlighted that Kismatiya Gond has been badly injured on her head by the police, she was neither allowed to go for medical checkup and neither police allowed to get her medical report made. She somehow got the medical report of injury on herself but till date the FIR against the perpetrators have not been lodged.
The difficulties that the poor tribal women forest dwellers will face in order to be able to get out of prison with such serious charges where they are completely innocent can only be imagined. Activists from the region have highlighted that the administration and police is acting hand in glove with each other so that the tribal women are terrorized for give up fighting for their forest and land rights.
Furthering the demand to constitute a special team to inquire and investigate the incident of police brutality, activists and union members in the region have demanded a notice to be served to the DM and SP of the district in the case of illegal arrests of Sukalo Gond, Kismatiya Gond and Sukhdev Gond so that their right to life can be protected. They have also demanded that an FIR be lodged on the erring officials for unleashing violence and hampering the implementation of the FRA u/s 3(i)(g) of the SC/ST Act.