An update by Delhi Solidarity Group,

On the morning of 6th February at 10:30am in Badi village of Sonbhadra district, around 200 hooligans associated to local land mafia attacked the house of Shobha who belongs to the dalit community. In this barbarous attack Shobha’s house was completely destroyed and along with her 20 other women were also injured. In the attack children and elderly people have also been injured. Taking the initial cognizance local police has arrested the culprits u/s 107/16.

As per the local information from the victims the attack was planned and carried out by the local mafia Kalwant Aggarwal (having a history of indulging in heinous crimes and allegation   along with Dr. Mishra, BDC Jasoda, Forest department officials and Police Inspector Vijay Yadav of Dala Police Chauki. The main reason of the attack was another step to stop local Dalit and Adivasi women to get organise under the leadership of Shobha for their rights under Indian Constitution.

Van Jan Adhikar Rally

Furthering to the torture by local administration and police victims have shared that even around 20 women got severely injured in the attack, the police is twisting the case and showed as a case of mutual brawl and beating up and put local Dalit and Adivasi women in Jail. Most of the women have small babies, dependent family members and also the elderly to be taken care of at their homes. Local human rights informants have also shared that some of the women are also lactating mothers and they have been forcefully alienated by the local police.

As we all know that there has been a massive movement in Sonbhadhra and Nearby areas on the issues of implementation of FRA 2006 . In this whole campaign Shobha along with other members as an important member of forest workers union needs urgent protection from the local mafias.

The role of local police and administration in whole incident has helped the perpetrators, coming to the specific information Dala Police Chowki inspector and SO coupon is also being actively involved with the perpetrators and responsible for sending the mob of hooligans to Shobha’s house.  There was no attempt by the police to stop this attack. When the attack happened a member of the All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP) informed the Addl SP Shambhu Sharan Yadav on the phone and in a while at11: 00am she and her colleague Scale Gond went and informed SP Mr. Shiv Shankar Yadav. While we were talking to him, he could also listen on the phone the screams of Shobha, and it was only then that any action was taken at all. But later we learnt that the Addl SP went to Chopan and declared the entire case in favor of the perpetrators and arrested Shobha along with 18 women who are presently in Mirzapur jail.

Contrary to the original situation the local media Sonbhadra has reported that the attack was done on the pretext that Shobha had illegally occupied forest land and had no right to stay there. However, Addl SP said that Shobha had beaten BDC Jasoda due to which her house was attacked. These unconvincing statements prove that this attack was well planned and carried out by the police and the hooligans so that Shobha could be removed from that land. In reality, Shobha has been struggling for the past 10 years for her right over the land where she lives now.

Shobha being a Dalit woman she laboured hard in the crusher belt of Chopan and used to stay there is a small hutment. To remove her from there the mining mafia Kalwant Aggarwal got her husband caught falsely in a robbery. Kalwant conspired with the police and got himself a false stay order in both the section 376 as well as atrocity act cases filed against him. He continued to threaten Shobha and other women. To get him arrested the women even gheroed the Chopan police station in June 2014, raised questions over his stay order and got him arrested. But he was released again and even after filing of charge sheet by the Sonbhadra police, he has not been arrested since past 6 years.

Roma, general secretary of All India Union for Forest Working People (AIUFWP) visited the women in prison on 13th Feb and has found that the situation inside Mirzapur prison where Shobha is kept along with 18 others is extremely bad at present. 90 women have been shoved into a prison having the capacity of 30. No bedsheets or quilts have been provided. Gunja, another woman who is 8 months pregnant is in extremely difficult condition and is receiving no medical attention and another child of hers who is just 6 months old has been separated from her.  BDC Jasoda is exercising her power and influence by asking the authorities to keep the women in a bad state. Shobha’s husband who was wounded in this has attack has not received any medical treatment and his wound is still fresh and bleeding while he is being made to work in the male prison. He even fainted once while doing the chores there.  A complaint has been lodged by Shobha with the Jail Superintendent who is inquiring into the matter

The list of children:

Ragini  10 month – mother gunja 8th mth pregnant

Aanchal 8 mnth – mother Sunita

Krishna 1 month – mother shanti

Pooja 1 yr – mother Shivkumari

The recent attack on the dalit adivasi women is an attempt to break their legitimate rights under FRA2006 .The attack to remove Shobha and others form there land is clearly illegal because according to the forest rights act when a claimant is filing a claim under this act then he/she cannot be removed from their till the claim is not rejected. Doing so would amount to strict action against the officials. The open contempt of this act however continues in Sonbhadra even now as mining mafias, land mafias, corporates in collaboration with the government are continuing the exploitation and oppression of these already marginalized communities.

Shobha has even filed a claim under the FRA( Forest Rights Act) 2006 for the land on which her house is built. She has a legitimate claim over the land as per the Act.  In Uttar Pradesh, even after the beginning of governance by Samajwadi party this act has not been implemented and a struggle to get this done is being waged by the dalits and adivasis in Sonbhadra too  She had expressed earlier as well that there might soon be an attack on her and yet she was constantly organizing women

In the year 2014 a 100 member delegation of All India Union of Forest Working People also met CM Akhilesh yadav on 14th April 2014 urging him to implement the FRA in the right spirit. He had directed all the DM’s to implement this Act and sent orders. But sonbhadra DM has till date not followed the implementation of the Act properly.

Taking the movement for protection of forest dwellers and poor citizens on 13th, around 250 women and men staged dharna outside collector’s office and demanded unconditional release of 18 women and Shobha’s husband who were attacked by the hooligan on 6th Feb and they were jailed too. A lot of heated debate happened between the administration and the people and there was mass dialogue. The first demand by women is to send the children to their mothers and the administration has  promised to arrange vehicles for sending four small kids to the jail. Women have said that they will not lift the dharna till their demands are met. Roma and Sokalo Gond will accompany the children till jail.

This whole incident is taking serious mode and villagers and gearing up for the long battle for the protection of their rights under FRA2006 . Taking the history of false cases in mind there is threat that  the officials in Nexus of Police and Forest department is planning to put more criminal cases are filed on women inside the jail so that women could not come out of jail.

This is the continuance of “historical injustice” as enshrined in the preamble. Thousands of tribal have staged dharna outside DM off in Robertsganj from 7th so that all innocent women could be released and shobha’s house could be rebuilt.

Taking the incident and whole struggle for FRA2006 in mind we demand the following –

  1. Immediate suspension of Dala Chowki inspector Vijay Yadav, Addl SP Shambhu Sharan Yadav, SO Chopan   for the attack on the women.
  2. Immediate setting a high level inquiry needs to take place investigate the attack.
  3. All 18 women should be released immediately and all the false cases must be taken back by police .
  4. Urgent enforcement FRA 2006 in letter and spirit of  and allotment of  all the claims ( Community and Individuals ) .
  5. Immediate allotment of land and forest produce rights under FRA2006 to Shobha.
  6. Exploitation of women needs to stop immediately and their dignity needs to be retained to them.
  7. Compensation of 25 lakh should be paid back to Shobha for the damages to her house.
  8. The forest and land rights of all Dalits and Adivasis in this region should be recognized and implemented.
  9. Immediate putting up a women police chauki in the area to avoid further mishappening with Dalits and Adivasis women

Latest Update (15 Feb 15):

Children of jailed women sent by the administration to jail. All arrangement to send the children was done by the district judge on the req od district admin. Our delegation of women went and left the children in Zirzapur jail that is 80 km from sonbhadra. The receiving was also taken by our member of union. Pl find the attached receipt.  It is the victory of the struggling people that the admin was forced to bow on the pressure of movement. It is very likely that today we will have a high level dialogue with the officials and by Tom women will be released.

So chopan tried to threaten the andolankari sitting in dharna to end their stir. He tried to abuse Shyam, Lalti along with some local journalist do that the women sitting in dharna could be booked and dharna could be ended. But people were very strong and are demanding to suspend SO chopan who also instigated dominant section to torch the house of shobha. Many more people joined dharna yesterday. Kanhar Bacchao Andolan 100 members joined the release campaign yesterday.

In this whole matter of urgent attention Delhi Solidarity Group feels  need to intervene and visit Sonbhadra as a fact finding team and also stand in solidarity with the women who are protesting for their rights. The fact finding team that is being planned on 18, 19 February (Leave on 17th night and reach back on 20th morning ) . In brief visit fact finding team would be conducting following interventions

–       Visit of the places and villages attacked and interaction with the victims

–       Meeting local police authorities to understand the legal follow up of the case

–       Meeting with DM and Forest Department and stocktaking the implementation of FRA 2006 in the area .

–       Visiting Jail and Meeting with Victims of the barbarous torture.

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