Women Released – Collector Suspended
Update : Dharna for Release of 18 women illegally arrested by the Sonbhadra police who were fighting for the land rights
The 11 day Dharna organized by the local organization Kaimur Kshetra Mazdoor Mahila Kisan Sangarsh Samiti and AIUFWP ended today with a great victory for the struggling dalit and tribal women, where 18 women were released with honor and culprit District Magistrate Dinesh K Singh suspended for not able to protect the hooligans who attacked the house of dalit women shobha that rendered 25 women seriously injured and her children homeless. Mahilaye bhar aur DM andar…. wah kya baat hai…. Saach ke gale mein padi maala,,, Jhoto ka to muhh hua kala.
Today women were released from Mirzapur jail, they straightaway came to dharna at collectorate where over 300 members of our organization were waiting to honor the revolutionary women. They were garlanded and applauded for their heroic struggle. Shobha addressed all of them and said that she along with other women will fight against the women atrocity and for the land rights and not bow before the repressive administration and govt. She narrated the tales of women prisoners of Mirzapur jail and said that women are flogged in the jails like animals. In the 30 barrack capacity of women more than 90 women are stuffed, no proper food is provided, no other facility is granted they are not able to sleep also. Many pregnant women are kept without any proper medical care, around 90% are dalit and tribal women and rest are other caste women. The dalit and tribal women are lodged in jail in petty offences. She said that for our rights we may have to go jail many times we should not be afraid to go jail. If we are right we will force the administration to release us with our terms of reference as the release of women set a precedent in the district that how the false cases could be fought by a militant struggle and culprits like district magistrate could be booked.
This struggle set an example for many struggling people to fight against the rigid legal procedures and the misuse of power of the officials. No one even could believe that Collector will be suspended but it was only due to the unrelentless fight of the people who took over collectorate for more than 10 days in their possession and made their home there to put pressure on the admin to release the women unconditionally. The collector constantly took the favour of rapist, feudals, JP company, Forest dept and police and built up a case of dispute between two parties. Accused Shobha that she was capturing the land and that was the reason hooligans attacked her house. But this argument could not stand for long and collector took 6 days to come on table to talk with the protestors in his office.
On 18th Feb the dialogue with the administration finally started at 4 PM. Collector tried all means to avoid the dialogue before. By sending some press reporters on 17th that only 5 people could meet or by saying that if the matter is pending in the Court he can’t do anything. All such messages were conveyed by the local dalals and not through proper official channel. He also called representatives of many parties in his office to discredit our protest and declare our dharna illegal. But none of the political party also came to his support. But on the other hand BSP came for the open support of the dharna, their ex MLA Ramlotan sat for a day and sent all the papers to Party chief Mayawati and on 19th Feb former Minister RK choudhary met the protestors in the PWD rest house. Collector declared the dharna illegal and blacked out all news in the newspaper. The newspaper who printed some news regarding the protest also changed after 6th day and started printing the false coverage that was given by the collector. When dharna still continued the admin had to call for the dialogue on the 18th evening. Some of the press reporters came to see what was happening, Women told them to go away and said that they will not give any news to the reporters who are printing the false story and not publishing the truth.
In dialogue with the administration Collector, SP and DFO, the delegation of more than 30 people sat in which more were women. They had to finally agree for the demand of 30 people. The delegation comprised of many movements going on in the area including Kanhar Dam illegal construction.
The administration had to accept all our demands, though collector was very arrogant that showed his connivance with the mining mafia the rapist Kalwant aggarwal. A good role was played by SP who perceived the gravity of the problem to deal with the sensitive situation. The admin had to accept that it was a mistake to jail all the women and extended the support to release women with all help in the court with single surety without any expanses.
In the Court there was a mockery of the police and admin as the manner in which innocent women were forced into jail with trivial offences the same police and admin made all arrangement is the court for their release also. On 19th feb the job of filing the bail bond was given to our lawyer Vinod Pathak who argued in the Court for the bail. CJM ordered that only one surety is needed, this order is also unprecedented as we clearly told in the dialogue with the admin that poor people do not have 2 surety to produce, they should be helped by the admin. The fees of our lawyer was also given by the admin. The paper work could not be completed on 19th due to surety verification but all the women got bail with the police officials standing and monitoring the case. On 20th feb the lawyers were on strike, the bail order could not be sent to jail but here also the top police officials contacted the Bar Council President and requested him to send the bail order so that women could be released. The entire Court was perplexed as what is happening since they all know that police records are very bad and they take more interest in putting the innocent behind the bars and not releasing them. On the other hand police and admin were under lot of pressure as the protesters were still sitting in collectorate with large numbers and had declared that they will not budge until and unless all of them are released. The other factor was suspension of collector. All the officials were unnerved and was extending full support to the release campaign. The admin has also promised to construct Shobha’s house and provide ration to her 6 children for a month.
Women leader Shobha is now off for Delhi to attend the 24th protest against land acquisition in Delhi at Jantar mantar.
This is great learning for the struggling people who have shown that if capitalist forces, feudal and others use police and admin to repress than they also with their unified struggle can teach lessons to these egoist, inhuman, power hungry officials. And with their militant protest they can even bring the government down.