The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), after its recent visit to Jharkhand to verify the various complaints it received from individuals and groups, came out with the startling finding that innocent tribal youths have been cheated by making them surrender as ‘naxalites’.
The infamous ‘surrender policy’ of the govt advocates that apart from a govt job, a surrendered Naxal is entitled to get an amount ranging from Rs.1.5 lakh to 2.5 lakh. For the tribal youth whose small pieces of agricultural land is being forcibly taken by the govt and corporate houses in the name of ‘development’ and with hardly any job opportunities in their rural set up, any possibility of getting some job assumes first priority. So when the police and their agents entice the innocent tribal youth with this false promise, they fall for it. This is nothing short of a crime committed by the govt against the poorest of the poor.
Who are responsible for this cheating game? NHRC Report affirms that some senior Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) officers conniving with some Jharkhand police officers have been organizing these ‘fake surrenders’ to take advantage of the attractive ‘Naxalite Surrender’ policy. This opens up possibilities of getting awards and even getting promotions for playing this fraud on the poor tribal youths. Some middle men were also ropped in who contacted the simple innocent tribals, lured them with promise of jobs and in return took big sums of money from them. Many of the surrendered youths had sold off their personal belongings like motorcycles and land to arrange for the money to secure the promised job. This money was shared with CRPF and police officers. These tribal youths were then lodged in the old central jail of Ranchi who then discovered that there were many many more tribals like them were also cheated and trapped. A senior Officer who discovered this anomaly wrote to the Director General of Police pointing out the seriousness of what was happening. But no action was taken until NHRC brought to light this disgusting affair.
Where did the arms come from? These 514 youths were picked up from different parts of Jharkhand in police vehicles and a ‘surrender show’ was arranged to show as though they had surrendered with arms. The intriguing question is where did these arms actually come from? It is now common knowledge that the police always have some arms ready and make a show as though the surrendering ‘naxals’ are surrendering their arms also. It is even worse with regard to those ‘naxals’ who have been arrested. They are brought before the media persons, their heads are covered, the police officers sit in front of them and on a table placed before them some weapons are exhibited with the caption that these were recovered from the ‘captured naxals’. Both the electronic and print media unquestioningly publicise this drama and the general public accepts them as true. Studies on undertrial prisoners reveal that most of those arrested almost on a daily basis are innocent youth. But they are poor and therefore very vulnerable to this type of persecution.
No action taken despite the disclosure: when an honest police officer found out the anomaly and made it known to the top police officer, no action has been taken.
Call for justice
The CRPF and Police Officers who are guilty of this crime against the poorest of the poor must be brought to justice. The victims must be rehabilitated and adequately compensated. The following steps would need to be taken:
– A judicial commission must be appointed to probe this crime. It certainly cannot be left to the local govt or the police dept because they will whitewash the whole affair. After all, the fence will not eat the crop!
– The police officers and their middle-men who had cheated the tribal youth must be identified and their names made public.
– The cash that was collected from the tribal youth must be returned to them with interest. This amount may be taken from the personal savings/PF of these officers
– A just compensation to the tribal youth for the economic, social hardship they have suffered because of this cheating game be offered. The amount can be at least Rs. 5 lakhs.
– The non-tribal police officers and their middle men must be prosecuted under The SC and The ST(Prevention Of Atrocities) Act, 1989, and (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act 2015.
– Clear safeguards must be provided to these tribal youth so they will not in any way be harassed in future.
The innocent tribal youth have suffered a serious injustice. Justice must be done to them. After all, justice is truth in action.