Terrorizing The Democratic Space
By Gladson Dungdung
29 June, 2010
In the midst of hide and seek between the Sun and the Cloud, the environment of Jaipal Singh Stadium in Ranchi, the capital city of Jharkhand was very tense on June 25, 2010. The reason was, the “Operation Green Hunt Virodhi Nagrik Manch” (Citizens Forum against Operation Green Hunt) had called for a rally and mass meeting against the cold blood murder, rape and torture of innocent villagers by the security forces in the ongoing so-called anti-Naxal operation codified as “Operation Green Hunt”. The forum has been intervening on the issues of the police atrocity since inception of the OGH. As a result, the police have declared it as a Maoist organization, which is of course, the outcome of Chidambaram’s theory of democracy, which describes as ‘this side or that side’. Therefore, whoever questions the Operation Green Hunt is considered as a Maoist, a Maoist supporter or at least a sympathizer of the Maoists.
When the Senior Superintendent of Police (Ranchi) Pravin Kumar came to know about the Forum’s rally and mass meeting, he started a special operation against the forum. On June 18, the Police caught Jitendra Singh Munda of Nuridih village of Tamar block, while he was returning from Ranchi to his village by bus carrying pamphlets of the Forum for distribution. The bus was also seized and the driver, assistant driver and conductor were taken into the police custody. In the evening, the SSP held a press conference in the city with smiling face, telling the media about how the police succeeded in arresting some Maoists. Jitendra Munda was asked to hold the pamphlets of the forum for the Media show. The SSP declared the forum as a Maoist Organization, its pamphlet as a Maoist literature and also challenged that he would not let the rally and mass meeting take place on June 25 in Ranchi since it is an event of the Maoists.
The Forum’s members were quite upset on the SSP’s baseless propaganda and action against the forum. The senior members of the forum rejected the SSP’s claim through the media. They also decided to meet the Adviser of the Governor R.R. Prasad and discuss on the matter. On 22 evening, when the weather was cool, a delegation comprising of 7 members entered into the holy chamber of the Governor’s Adviser. He welcomed with smiling face and asked what should he do for the delegation. The convener of the Forum Stan Swami told him, “Your police have made us Maoists therefore we are here”. “Please don’t tell this”, R R Prasad humbly requested. He immediately called the Director General of Police (DGP) Neyaz Ahmed to his chamber. When the holy ritual of introduction was over, he questioned, “Is there really any problem in the operation green hunt?” Indeed, the question reveals the fact that how each and every person who is with the system has worn the sunglasses made of P. Chidambaram & co. Therefore, no one wants to see the pain, suffering and agony of the innocent villagers who are being humiliated, beaten, raped, tortured and murdered by the security forces.
However, when the delegation submitted him some black and white papers related to facts & figures including the case of cold blood murder of Jasinta by the security forces, he patiently heard the delegation. The delegation members also told him that how the Police have been attempting to terrorize the democratic spaces. The security forces do not allow people’s protest against the operation green hunt, they advocate for the corporate interest and also torture the villagers who oppose the force land acquisition for the corporate sharks. The police are portraying the Forum as Maoist organization, its reading materials as the Maoist literature and also threatening the bus owners who lend their buses for the Rally. After hearing the plea, R.R. Prasad order for a high level inquiry on the case of Jasinta and also shown the green signal for the rally and mass meeting. However, he refused to give a written permission and kicked the ball into the DGP’s court by saying that the DGP will look after the matter. He strongly said, “We are not waging war against our own people therefore we have different views from the central government as far as the anti-Naxal operations are concerned”. Ironically, the scenario is completely different at the grassroots.
According to the holy words of the DGP Neyaz Ahmed, his police have been carrying out normal operations against the Maoists and he hates to call it the “operation green hunt”. “We can not hunt the people only animals are hunted”, he said. After hearing, so many complaints about his gunmen, he was upset but assured the delegation for having the rally and mass meeting but he put a condition that there should not be any violence. However, he said that he would confirm it only on the next day. In the evening SSP Pravin Kumar called Stan Swami over phone and asked him for a written permission. Finally, all the rituals, which of course called legal procedures, were accomplished after running from pillar to post and final green signal for was given to the forum for rally and mass meeting.
In the morning of June 25, nearly 100 Security Forces comprising of RAF, JAP and Local Police were present in Jaipal Singh Stadium much before the arrival of the villagers. As soon as the time was passing, the police vehicles started rushing to the venue one after another apart from the Security Forces were present in the venue. It was 12 O’clock in the after noon, a young man entered into the stadium with a camera in hand. He introduced himself as a crime reporter of a national news channel. We just laughed but he didn’t understand. We questioned him, “Do our rally and mass meting come under the purview of your “crime reporting”? He smiled and responded, “Only my boss knows because he has assigned me this job”. We were shocked to see specially the electronic media’s interest. They never come to cover our programmes without invitation. Of course, we had informed the print media about the event but not electronic ones. Perhaps, their bosses sent them to cover the event as it comes under the preview of “crime” in their holy definition. Obviously, the media also consider us as the Maoist supporters.
After a few minutes, another police vehicle stopped in front of us. A police officer started question us one by one. The questions were – who are you? What do you do? Where do you come from? He questions and writes something in his diary. Indeed, it was very clear that the police know nothing about us though the media had published several reports regarding our work, which reveals the fact of how intelligent are our intelligence agencies. Though we were told that the security forces were there for our protection but of course, it was not. All of them had come with the prejudices in their minds and heart that the Maoists have called for the rally and mass meeting. They had taken for guaranteed that we all are the Maoists or at least their supporters.
Amidst, we got phone calls from two senior members of the forum – Xavier Soy and Ramesh Dey who are based at Kuchai and Kharsawan in Saraikela-Kharsawan district respectively. Both of them described how the police terrorized the democratic rights of the people of Saraikela-Kharsawan district. The Superintendent of Police of Saraikela-Kharsawan, Abhishek threatened both of them several times for raising questions against the ‘operation green hunt’. On 24 of June, SP Abhishek called Xavier Soy over the phone and told him to abstain from the rally and mass meeting. He also threatened him for lifetime imprisonment if he doesn’t obey his order. On the next day, when Xavier Soy was almost ready to depart for Ranchi, a police vehicle carrying 20 police personals reached to his home at Shiyadih village in Kuchai block at 7:30 in the morning. He was stunned to see them.
The officer in charge of Kuchai police station, A. K. Thakur told him not to take any villager to Ranchi. When Xavier Soy started speaking against the violation of democratic rights of the villagers, the officer in charge threatened him by saying, “If you don’t hear me, you will be stopped at Arki, Tamar or Bundu police stations and sent to Jail”. 1 bus that was standing at Xavier’s courtyard was taken to police station. The police stopped 9 buses (3 buses at Khilari, 6 buses at Siadih) which were bringing about 600 villagers for the rally and mass meeting from Saraikela-Kharswan district. The police also captured 2 buses bringing people for the meeting from West Singhbhum district. They were detained by the police in Tebo Ghat for five hours. As a result, they could not participate in the rally and mass meeting in Ranchi, which is a clear violation of the Constitutional rights of the people. The paramilitary forces and local police were deployed across the state to prevent people from participating in rally and mass meeting. The Jharkhand police wanted to show that they have mass support for the operation green hunt and only few people are opposing it.
Finally, about 400 villagers turned out for the rally, which was very small in number as 5000 people were expected for the event. However, the number was very small but not discouraging. At least, 200 people turned out to challenge the unjust rules of the mighty guns. It was 1 O’clock in the afternoon, the villagers started walking in the city. “Stop killing the innocent villagers in the name of cleansing the Maoists”, “Withdraw the Operation Green Hunt” and “Protect our human rights” were the overwhelming slogans raised by them.
By the time it was drizzling, I saw an old Adivasi woman walking with the support of a stick and raising slogan with enthusiasm like a young woman. She smiled and said, “I’m sure, I was born in 1933 and I’m walking for justice”. Her name is Hiramani Lakra. She is 77 years old, lives with her family in a village called Sidrol, which falls under Khijri block in Ranchi district. She walked nearly 5 Kilometers in the city shouting slogans and raising hand against injustice. She also heard the speakers patiently in the mass meeting. At the end, when Stan Swami asked a question, “Shall we go ahead with the fight or end here”? She was the first who raise her hand in support of the fight for justice, which of course, will continue till the humiliation, rape and torture stopped by the security forces.
We live in the largest democratic country in the universe and also clap for it. But unfortunately, the Indian State has been terrorizing the democratic spaces of the villagers especially the Adivasis, Dalits, poor, women and children. Our honourble parliamentarians do not only table the policies, programmes and budget but they also table money in the Indian parliament and nobody is punished for defaming our largest democracy. Now the Raj Sabha (Upper House) has become heaven for the corporate houses. We have more than 100 billionaires in the upper house including Malya, Ambani and Kedi. In these circumstance, if we have to protect our democracy we must rationalize that why 77 years old Adivasi woman Hiramani walked in the city for justice, who had born before existence of the Indian State but not satisfied for last 63 years under Indian rule.
The most relevant questions are, does the Indian democracy have space for the decent voice? The word “No” is meaningless in the Indian democracy? Or the “No” of the marginalized people is meaningless in the Indian democracy? Of course, without “No” the democracy is meaningless but do the people of ruling classes understand it and respect the decent voices? We must understand that we all are equal as the citizens of India irrespective of our race, caste, sex, religion and so on. Therefore, the Indian State should hear the decent voices instead of terrorizing the democratic space with the power of Guns.
Gladson Dungdung is a Human Rights Activist and Writer from Jharkhand. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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