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Jharkhand rights group alleges forces assaulted locals, molested girl during search op; SP says no such incident brought to his notice

Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, in the report released on Friday, said that the alleged incident took place on November 11 during a search operation in a West Singhbhum district village. It said an FIR should be lodged against the guilty

Founded in 2018, Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha is a coalition of several groups and activists, including development economist Jean Dreze and activist-journalist Dayamani Barla, among others.

A Jharkhand-based human rights organisation has released a fact-finding report alleging that security forces in West Singhbhum district “brutally” beat up people from the tribal community and molested with “intention to rape” an adolescent girl.

A senior police official said no such incident had been brought to his notice.

Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, in the report released on Friday, said that the alleged incident took place on November 11 during a search operation in a West Singhbhum district village.

Chaibasa Superintendent of Police Ashutosh Shekhar said, “It is the same release which Maoists had issued and we came to know (about it). Now the Mahasabha is contending the same. We brief our personnel regularly on their conduct and this has not come to my notice so far.”

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He said: “Some villagers were beaten up by Maoists a few days ago, and the security personnel gave them medicines and helped them. Anyway, we will look into the allegations.”

Founded in 2018, Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha is a coalition of several groups and activists, including development economist Jean Dreze and activist-journalist Dayamani Barla, among others.

Its report stated: “…the team found that during search operation, security forces beat up Adivasis (including women), abused a girl with the intention of raping her, and destroyed people’s belongings. The forces entered the house an elderly widow, and scattered things…. Then two jawans held her adolescent daughter’s hands and a third jawan molested her. They wanted to drag her towards the bushes, but she somehow managed to escape…. The jawans brutally beat up (the woman) when she refused to let go of her daughter.”

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The rights group alleged that the security forces manhandled another boy and her mother was beaten up.

Deputy Commissioner Ananya Mittal told The Indian Express: “We have received a fact-finding report from Mahasabha. We will act accordingly after verifying the allegations.”

In 2021, the Mahasabha had claimed to have done “fact-finding” on the killing of one Brahmdev Singh, allegedly by security forces on June 12 that year in Latehar’s Piri area. The security forces had claimed that the killing was a result of “cross-firing” in “self-defence” and had registered an FIR against the villagers.

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The Mahasabha, in its report, stated that the killing was unprovoked and had pursued the case.

Brahmdev belonged to a tribal community. Nearly a year after Brahmdev’s family moved the court, Jharkhand Police registered another FIR — this time against eight security personnel, including a CRPF Deputy Commandant — on charges of Brahmdev’s “murder” and “destruction of evidence”.

The Indian Express had reported the incident and the follow-up.

In the recent report, the organisation said that security forces had allegedly “brutally beaten residents” of the same village with “sticks, batons and rifle” even in 2020.

“The victims (of the 2020 incident) submitted written applications at many levels, but till date no action has been taken against the perpetrators nor have the victims received any compensation,” the report mentioned. “…The lack of basic services and welfare schemes in the village and nearby area is also a matter of grave concern.”

First published on: 03-12-2022 at 19:58 IST
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