18, Jul 2018 | Sushmita
As human rights defenders Sukalo and Kismatiya still remain ‘untraceable’, the UP police are claiming that Kismatiya’s real identity is that of one Manju, who has been named in the FIR filed by the police. The All India Union of Forest Working Peoples (AIUFWP) has refuted such claims and said that this is one more devious manoeuver by the police to keep the fearless forest land rights movement leaders in jail.
AIUFWP members are concerned that Sonbhadra, UP police is mixing up the identity of Kismatiya with another woman named Manju. Incidentally the names of their husbands are identical the police are using this as one of the grounds for her arrest. In fact, this is doubly worrisome given how activists and lawyers have claimed that both Sukalo and Kismatiya’s names are missing from the FIR!
CJP has been closely following how Adivasi women of Sonbhadra, UP, who are a part of a peaceful struggle for land rights, are being systematically bullied and harassed. Many of them have fake cases filed against them on false or trumped up charges. CJP stands with the AIUFWP in their demand for the immediate implementation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006. Support these brave women, who are determined to get their rights despite hailing from oppressed, vulnerable and marginalised communities, by donating here.
Kismatiya Gond w/o Shankhlal, r/o Lilasi, PS Muirpur, Sonbhadra was picked in a clandestine manner from Chopan railway station by the Sonbhadra police on June 8, 2018. Along with her, Sukalo Gond and Sukhdev Gond were arrested as well. A bail application was moved at the Sessions Court in Robertsganj, Sonbhadra on July 5.
CJP, with the AIUFWP had moved the Allahabad High Court seeking the immediate production and release of the illegally detained Adivasi women leaders, Sukalo Gond and Kismatiya Gond. Sukalo Gond (Treasurer of AIUFWP) and Kismatiya Gond (Secretary, Forest Rights Committee), were arrested just as they were returning after a meeting with the state forest minister, Dara Singh Chauhan and the Forest Secretary in Lucknow on June 8.
Though Kismatiya and Sukalo, both, were not named in the FIR, they were illegally arrested without any information to their families. Now, the AIUFWP has alleged that “some mischief has been done by the police to bring her name in the FIR.” Both Kismatiya and Sukalo were produced in the Court on June 21. In the remand sheet the name entered for Kismatiya is Kismatiya aka Manju. When members of the AIUFWP tried to verify this with her family members, they said that Kismatiya didn’t have any alternative names. Infact Manju was another woman who was named in the FIR. However, both their husbands’ names matched. Kismatiya’s husband’s name is Shankhlal, so is Manju’s. Since Manju’s name was present in the FIR, Kismatiya was arrested and shown as Manju. However, AIUFWP members have alleged that both of them are different.
Here are copies of the Aadhaar Cards of both women that clearly show they are two different people!
AIUFWP’s secretary Roma said, “The police regularly mixes up names of Adivasis in this manner leading to false arrests and fabricated cases. This time they are doing this to our union members, Sukalo and Kismatiya. Sukalo’s name isn’t even there in the FIR. I fear what would have happened if the union wasn’t there. It is easy for police to rape and encounter Adivasi women in such a manner. We have seen such cases earlier as well. There is no accountability to their actions.”
The matter has seen several dramatic twists and turns ever since the movement for forest rights gained momentum in Sonbhadra, UP. While the two leaders were arrested secretly and illegally, in the last hearing the police tried to claim that on July 9, they had released both Kismatiya and Sukalo on Challan for Section 151 of CrPC and released soon. However, both the women were actually untraceable since the time of their arrests. Sukalo and Kismatiya’s lawyers argued that details of the Challan were not provided. The Court had given the government a week’s time to file counter affidavit.
Earlier, the UP police picked up and detained Adivasis from Lilasi and made them go through harrowing procedures for about a day, on May 18. Later, on May 22, they entered the village, completely unwarranted and assaulted women and children, in which Kismatiya Gond had sustained severe injuries. Bulk FIRs were filed against the villagers on the pretext of an “afforestation project,” the details of which wasn’t known to anybody! Even though Sukalo and Kismatiya weren’t present during the episodes of assaults by the police, and her name was nowhere mentioned in the FIRs, she was arrested from Chopan station on June 6 in and clandestine manner, ironically, when she and Kismatiya were returning after meeting the state forest minister, Dara Singh. Dara Singh had assured them to look into the matter seriously.
On AIUFWP and CJP’s intervention, the NHRC had issued notifications to the DM of Sonbhadra to look into the violent onslaught of UP police and forest department. However, the feudal nexus of the Government, the forest department and big landholders is carrying on its oppressive onslaught with impunity.