Maoist links? Jharkhand Dalit rights activist arrested for “opposing” Mandal dam
The civil rights organization Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JJM), describing the recent arrest of Naresh Bhuiyan, an active member of the Bhartiya Bhuiyan Vikas Parishad and currently involved in protests against the Mandal Dam, as “unlawful”, has demanded that the state government should “immediately” initiate an independent enquiry into efforts to brand him as a Maoist.
JJM, in a statement, has said, “The psychological and physical integrity of Naresh Bhuiyan and his family members should be ensured. The government should also immediately release under-trial prisoners languishing in Jharkhand’s jails since a long time. And it should put an end to its practice of using false cases to harass human rights activists.”
Text of the statement:
On May 14, 2019, the local police arrested Jharkhand’s Dalit activist Naresh Bhuiyan from his home in Bhandar village (Dhurki block, Garhwa district). The police told Bhuiyan’s family members that he was being taken to the local thana for certain enquiries and would be released immediately. But when he did not return by 15 May, the family members went to the thana to inquire. They were not allowed to meet Bhuiyan. He was illegally kept in the thana and was not produced in the court for several days.
Even though copy of FIR has not been made available so far, information collected from sources indicate that Naresh Ram has been implicated on charges of links with Maoists. The charges are gross manipulation and far from truth. There are also reports of physical torture by the police.
Naresh Bhuiyan is an active member of the Bhartiya Bhuiyan Vikas Parishad and has been working for the rights of Dalits and Adivasis since decades. He is associated with several peoples’ movements like the Adim Janjati Parishad and the Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vikas Manch. Naresh Ram has actively participated in agitations against irregularities in grain distribution to particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTGs), Birsa Housing scam, cases related to human trafficking, issues related to direct appointment of eighth and tenth pass PVTG candidates to mention a few.
It is worth mentioning that Naresh Bhuiyan’s is involved in protests against the Mandal Dam that is to be constructed on the North Koel river. Despite protests by people of villages that will be submerged, the Prime Minister laid the foundation stone of the Dam on January 5, 2019. This project will submerge 46 villages that will lead to displacement and loss of livelihood to thousands of Dalit and PVTG families. Lakhs of trees will be felled and the project will have huge adverse impact on the environment affecting the locals for all times to come. Having realised the harm caused by the proposed dam, the residents of the affected 46 villages have started agitating.
The illegal arrest of Naresh Bhuiyan on false charges is an attempt to weaken the protests against the construction of the Mandal Dam. It is also one more example of the anti-people attitude of Jharkhand’s BJP government. More than 6,000 Dalits and Adivasis of the state are languishing as under-trials in jails since years. Many have been booked falsely on charges of Naxalism. The police has been unable to produce any evidence against most of them. It also must be mentioned that in the last five years, the state government has even booked many human rights activists on false charges of sedition.
The Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha strongly condemns the unlawful arrest and detention of Naresh Bhuiyan. The Mahasabha demands that the state government immediately initiates an independent enquiry in this incidence. The psychological and physical integrity of Naresh Bhuiyan and his family members should be ensured. The government should also immediately release under-trial prisoners languishing in Jharkhand’s jails since a long time. And it should put an end to its practice of using false cases to harass human rights activists.