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The Cold-Blooded Murder In Jharkhand

By Gladson Dungdung

16 August, 2010
Countercurrents.org

In the afternoon on July 5, 2010, the security forces comprising of
JAP and SAF under the leadership of E.H. Siddique the
officer-in-charge of Tamar Police Station arrived to Gunti village and
picked up 45 year-old Etwa Munda of Papirdah village comes under Tamar
police station of Ranchi district in Jharkhand, when he was in the
house of his relative Manav Munda. The police also caught a girl Bengi
Kumari and escorted both of them towards Jabla pahari (forest). After
sometime, the villagers heard the sound of firing and rushed toward
the spot. They were shocked to see the dead body of Etwa Munda lying
on the ground. The police framed the cold-blooded murder of Etwa Munda
as a result of an encounter between the police and the Maoists. The
police also depicted him as a hardcore Maoist who was very close to
the Maoist Zonal commander Kundan Pahan.
Perhaps, Etwa Munda had some connections with the maoists
but under which law can police kill him in such a cold blooded way?

Since the villagers were fully aware of the cold-blooded murder of
Etwa Munda therefore the police spared Bengi Kumari and threatened the
villagers and family members of the deceased for keeping quite.
However, the villagers wanted to raise the issue therefore they
approached to a local activist Xavier Soy and told him about the fake
encounter. Meanwhile, when the police came to know about Xavier Soy’s
acts of attempting to unearth the fact of the fake encounter and
encouraging the villagers for raising the issue, the police put Xavier
soy with his school going son behind the bars alleging them of keeping
the Maoist literature in their house. The police also do not allow the
outsiders especially the Human Rights Activists and the Journalists to
roam in the area so that the truth remained buried. Finally, the
police succeeded in shutting up the villagers’ mouths and in framing
the cold-blooded murder as a genuine case of encounter between the
police and the Maoists.

Amidst, Tamar police again picked up another villager Rajesh Singh
Munda of Papridah village on August 1, 2010 before the dawn from his
village when he was sleeping. The police took him near Koja River in
Heso forest and gunned down after branding him as a hardcore Maoist
and aide of the Maoist Zonal Commander Kundan Pahan. The former
Jharkhand chief Minister Arjun Munda raised the question and demanded
for the CBI inquiry alleging that the Police killed Rajesh Singh Munda
in a cold-blooded murder. He also said that the Naxalism would grow if
innocent villagers were being coined as Naxalites and killed in fake
encounters. He further said that the police kill innocent Adivasis
precisely because they are voiceless. Perhaps, this is the first time
in Jharkhand when a political leader has raised questions against the
cold-blooded murder. Obviously, the most of the people keep quiet on
the case of fake encounter because the licensed killings are not only
accepted in our so-called civilized society but we also applaud for
it, award the killers and make them heroes of our Indian society,
which foundation lies on the non-violence ethos.

It would be very interesting to know whether Etwa Munda and Rajesh
Singh Munda were members of the Maoist groups? The circumstances
suggest that they were not the members of the Maoist groups. For
instance, the Maoists had called off ‘India block’ on July 7th after
alleged killing of their leader Azad. Similarly, on 8 August 2010,
they shut down Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhatsgarh and West Bengal against
the arrest of Maoist leader Rajesh alias Udayji from Ranchi the
capital city of Jharkhand. However, they did not even issue a
statement after brutal killings of Etwa Munda and Rajesh Singh Munda
by the Security Forces, which is a clearly indication that they were
not the members of the Maoist groups. However, the villagers do not
deny Etwa Munda’s involvement in some illegal activities but denied
him being the member of Maoist groups. Perhaps, Rajesh Singh Munda
was completely innocent.

Indeed, the police often conduct fake encounters for ensuring medal,
award and promotion for them but now the things have changed. The
purposes of cold-blooded murders are entirely different in the red
corridor. The Security forces have been organizing the fake encounters
in the forests with the intention of frightening the villagers so that
they can stop supporting the Maoists. It is to show the brave work of
the security forces to the city dwellers especially the middle class
for getting their support for the bigger assault against the Maoist.
It is also to bring back the lost moral ground of the security forces.
And of course, it is to shield their failures and to justify the
so-called anti-Naxal operations of the Indian government.

For instance, on July 1, 2010 the Police had organized a mass meeting
at Sarjormdih village near Bunda police station of Ranchi district in
Jharkhand against the Maoists, where 3000 villagers of 24 villages had
participated and challenged the Maoists. Instead of surrendering, the
Maoists killed Sandu Munda on July 3, who was the first speaker in the
meeting. The police had instigated the villagers for going against the
Maoists without ensuring their security therefore the Jharkhand Police
had faced heavy criticism. In this situation, there was no other way
to counter the criticism therefore the police killed Etwa Munda and
Rajesh Singh Munda in cold-blooded murders and depicted them as
hardcore Maoists. The people just followed the media’s story and kept
quiet.

Since, the so-called anti-Naxal operations have very clear link to the
corporate interest therefore one should understand the media’s silence
on the state sponsored human rights violations. Meanwhile, It is very
strange to know about the silence of Human rights groups on
humiliation, molestation, torture, rape and cold-blooded murder by the
Security Forces during the ongoing anti-Naxal operations in the state,
who ensure their bread and butter in the name of promotion and
protection of the human rights. Perhaps, these human rights groups are
afraid of the state agencies since anyone who raises the issues of
human rights violation in the red corridor is coined as a Maoists
supporter. But does it mean they should keep silence?

However, the Indian constitution does not deny the right to life to
anyone residing in the country. Similarly, our corporate Home Minister
P Chidambaram while responding to a question of alleged killing of
Maoist leader Azad in the Parliament said, “Whether somebody is a good
man or bad man, he should not be killed in a fake encounter.” He
further said, “When I took the charge of my ministry, I made it clear
that there would no fake encounter killings by central agency”. What
does it mean? It clearly means the Indian State has been carrying on
the fake encounters, which must be a serious concern for us.
Therefore, the CBI inquiry should be established in all the cases of
encounters taken place in the so-called red corridor since January 1,
2001 to 15 of August 2010. If it happens the people of the country
would be shocked to hear that how the security forces have killed the
innocent people in the fake encounters.

There are some very significant points in the so-called encounter
cases. Interestingly, when the police kill any person either in a
genuine or fake encounter, the person is coined as the top Maoists
(area commander or zonal commander) and when the Maoists attack on
police the most affected are small policemen. Why are the police not
able to target the guerillas though they are always able to target the
top guns of the Maoists? Similarly, whenever police catch a person, he
is propagated as a hardcore Maoist. The strange thing is at the end of
the day police fail to provide sufficient evidence in the court and
the most of the so-called hardcore Maoists are acquitted due to lack
of evidence. What does it mean? It clearly means the police victimize
the innocent people and put them behind the bars. Can the Indian State
tell its people that how many Maoists were convicted for last four
decades?

The peculiar thing in every case of encounter is the Maoist fire more
bullets on the security forces than the security forces fire on the
Maoists. Ironically, non-of our security force gets injury and the
Maoists are killed. Therefore, it is very difficult to understand the
puzzle of encounter. Precisely, because though our security forces are
so smart but at the same time they are not able to cleanse the
Maoists. In the case of Rajesh Singh Munda, the police claim of the
Maoist firing 300 rounds bullets on the Police and the Police fired
merely 150 rounds in their response. However, Rajesh Munda was shot
dead and not a single policeman got injury. Of course, one Indian
would never like its soldier to be injured but we have to understand
the logic of so-called ‘encounter’.

The so-called educated people who always raised the questions on
intention of the Human Rights Groups and attempted to brand them as
the Maoists over ground, Maoist sympathizers and supporters must
understand that we are the concerned and tax payer citizens of India,
who have also given our mandate to the Indian State for promoting,
protecting and ensuring everyone’s constitutional rights. Therefore,
even if the Maoists create problems in the country, the responsibility
lies with the Indian State. We also have every right to question the
Indian State whenever and wherever the human rights of the
marginalized people are violated. Any one who is annoyed with the
questions does not deserved to be in the power. If P. Chidmabaram does
not want to hear our cries, he must step down from the Home Ministry
immediately because the buck would always stop at his desk whenever
and wherever the central forces violate the human rights of the people
in India.

However, whether Etwa Munda and Rajesh Singh Munda were innocent or
guilty, their constitutional rights – right to life was taken away by
the mighty guns and the state is responsible for it therefore it must
tell its people the truth. Can we accept killings of anyone either
legally or illegally in the civilized society? Are we really civilized
people? How can we take anyone’s life if we can not give life to
anyone? In some cases of licensed killings we might be the egally
right but we would be always ethically wrong. And of course, the
killing is a sin for humanity. Therefore, we must ask the state to
uphold the constitution of India and we should not accept the
cold-blooded murder in any circumstance. The state is duty bound to
promote, protect and ensure the human rights of everyone therefore it
can not wither away from its responsibility. And of course, we should
not let it go.

While addressing to 64th Independence Day, the Prime Minister of India
Manmohan Singh said that his government is committed to protect its
every citizen therefore one would question whether Etwa Munda and
Rajesh Singh Munda were Indian citizens too? Is Indian government
committed to protect only the corporate sharks, politicians and
bigwigs? Or whether the Indian State is also committed to protect the
common men? If so then it must stop handing over the livelihood
resources of the common men to corporate sharks and stop the operation
green hunt, which is hunting the innocent rather than cleansing the
Maoists. Perhaps, the question may remain unanswered is will Etwa
Munda and Rajesh Singh Munda get justice or our police men would be
allowed to enjoy impunity as they have been doing? Certainly, one can
hope for justice for the victims of cold-blooded murders after
development of Sohorabudding fake encounter case in the right
direction but only the time will tell.

Gladson Dungdung is a Human Rights Activist and Writer from Jharkhand.
He can be reached at gladsonhractivist@gmail.com