Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Jharkhand encounter: 12 alleged Maoists killed, 7 identified, 6 of them had no police case against them, and 4 were children. Justice in modern India

The Big Story: Who died?
After it emerged that four of the 12 alleged Maoists killed by state and Central police in Jharkhand on Monday (June 8) were children, it has now turned out that only seven have been identified. Six of them had no police cases against them. Worse, the police have yet to file a First Information Report in the case, with the Inspector General of Palamau saying that the police have violated the 24-hour FIR rule because "officers are likely to be writing the FIR carefully." The authorities had passed off the attack as being one of the most successful operations on Maoists in the area in recent times, claiming that they had manage to take down RK Prasad, a well-known Naxalite allegedly involved in planting explosives. But the operation also saw the killing of Prasad's son, his nephew and several other youngsters, the relatives of whom have been adamant that they were not Maoists.

The families, many of whom admit Prasad was a Maoist, are calling the incident a "fake encounter". They are asking whether it is a crime to be a relative of an alleged criminal and have asserted that they will be going to court in the case. The authorities meanwhile, have been unable to identify the four minors who were killed. If even membership of a Maoist body is not a crime, as the Kerala High Court has established, how could being related to one mean you are marked out for death?

Nearly two days after 12 alleged Maoists were killed by the CRPF and Jharkhand Police in a joint operation, only seven had been identified. Of them, six had no case against them. The only one with known Maoist connections was Anurag alias RK ‘ji’ alias doctor, said to be a top zonal commander, and wanted in the 2013 Latehar case where explosives were put inside a slain CRPF man’s body. The others who have been identified are Anurag’s son Santosh Yadav (25), his nephew Yogesh Yadav (25), the driver of the vehicle, Mohammed Izaz Ahmad, a contract teacher, Uday Yadav (35), Uday’s cousin Neeraj Yadav (25) and Amlesh Yadav (35).

None of the four children killed has been identified so far. The families of the dead said they would file a case or go to court over the “cold-blooded murders”. While Anurag, Santosh and Yogesh were all residents of Majhgawa village in Chatra, Izaz lived in nearby Nima village. Izaz used to work in Madhya Pradesh as a driver till three and a half months ago, when he returned home and took up a job with a local electronic goods shop owner for Rs 3,000 a month.

A contract teacher who worked in Manika in Latehar, Uday had reportedly been facing Maoist threats for the past four years. Anurag’s elder brother Lakhan Yadav, whose son Yogesh was among those killed, says they had not been in touch with Anurag for some time now. “We made RK surrender in 1995. We had not spoken to him for four years. Yogesh ran a mobile phone shop in Pratappur and had gone with Santosh to an acquaintance’s place. I have no idea how he landed in RK’s company.”

Lakhan, a petty farmer, said his son had paid the price for being Anurag’s nephew. Santosh’s father-in-law Siteshwar Yadav, who also talks of the family disowning Anurag, said Santosh was happy working as a driver and had no links with Maoists. “I met him on Monday. He left that day saying he would return by the evening,” Siteshwar says. Is it a crime being Anurag’s relative, he asks.

“The way all 12 people were killed shows they were shot from close quarters. How can a vehicle be hit multiple times and there be no blood stains?” Izaz’s father-in-law Islam Mian, also a small farmer, says Izaz left home on Monday afternoon following a call from his employer. The alleged shootout took place when they were travelling in the employer’s vehicle. Izaz could hardly have known who were the passengers in his employer’s Mahendra Scorpio were, Islam says.

Uday’s younger brother Hriday claims Uday had been tense lately. Uday worked as a contract teacher at Manika block town, away from their village of Newar, earning Rs 8,000 a month. “He had been facing Maoist threats for four years. He did not tell his wife anything before leaving Manika on Monday evening,” Hriday says.

Amlesh, a resident of Hedu village under Panki police station in Palamau, also had no case against him. “We have sent a detailed report of the incident to the NHRC. The postmortem report will come in a couple of days,” district SP Mayur Patel said

Fake encounters: is this what Indian justice has been reduced to?

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