Garwah episode: Height of police atrocity

THE GARWAH district committee of CPI(ML) had scheduled its district party conference on 4-5 August at Garwah town. Our influence has been growing in Garwah district on the basis of anti-feudal struggles of the rural poor and resistance against mafia and other reactionary forces and our consistent voice against police repression being let loose in the name of curbing extremism. The local administration and police, under the leadership of SP Mr.Bhatia, and in collusion with corrupt businessmen of the local chamber of commerce and leaders of ruling party, decided to ‘teach a lesson’ during the district conference of CPI(ML).

On the morning of 4th August, the police arrested Comrade Ajoy Chandravanshi from Maral, who was not wanted in any case. He was brought by a group of plainclothes policemen to Garwah town in a Marshal van and was told by the police that some wanted cadres of CPI(ML) would come to the conference and he would have to identify them failing which he would be killed. The plainclothes police were patrolling the entire town keeping Comrade Ajoy with them and his face was covered with a cloth mask. Suddenly, the police found a car with a red flag near a hotel and they immediately rushed inside and arrested Comrade Laxman Singh who was taking some food there. Laxman Singh is a tribal peasant leader and was a candidate in Bhawanathpur assembly segment in the last two assembly elections.

Meanwhile, Comrade Ajoy was sent to the party office of Garwah at 2.30 p.m. to enquire about the comrades who were present in the office. Of course, at least 30 plainclothesmen had encircled the office from three sides. At that time, Comrade Sunil Kispotta, the district secretary of Garwah, was present in the office and upon hearing about the presence of police from Ajoy, he asked him not to leave the office. He also sent a message to the comrades gathered at the conference venue to reach the office in small groups. When the plainclothesmen were at a loss as to what to do after waiting for nearly 2 hours, suddenly about hundred of our comrades reached the office and soon formed themselves into in a procession shouting slogans. Comrade Sunil and other district leaders, along with Comrade Ajoy, joined at the head of the procession and it moved through the main roads of the town. The policemen were following the procession. After some time the police tried to take away Comrade Ajoy from the procession but the comrades, especially women, encircled the police and retrieved Ajoy and the procession again proceeded towards the conference venue, which was a middle school. Police forces were rushed there and suddenly the police started a lathicharge under instructions from SP Bhatia and arrested comrades Sunil, Akhtar, Ajoy and Jitendra after severely beating them. Comrade Jitendra is a lawyer and vice-president of the Bar Association at Garwah court. The delegates were scattered and the conference couldn’t be organized.

Comrades Sunil and Akhtar were released that night and Comrade Laxman was booked under old cases and the other three comrades were biked under 17 criminal sections as the police normally do in extremist cases. A protest march was organized in Garwah town on 5th morning. A protest march was also organized in Ranchi on 5th August and delegations met Home Secretary and DGP. Immediate suspension of SP and other police officials of Garwah was demanded for their undemocratic act. This issue was also raised in the August 9 rasta rokos in Jharkhand. On 14th August, a convention was organized in Garwah town against police atrocities and a signature campaign was taken up to remove Mr.Bhatia from Garwah. On 21 August, there were protest marches in all blocks of Garwah and there was a dharna before DC’s office in Palamu and there was also a demonstration before Assembly at Ranchi condemning the police raid on the conference venue. A big rally is scheduled for 30 August. The district conference would again be convened at Garwah town between 10-15 September.

Incidentally, 3 youth activists were arrested by the SP two months ago in Garwah town when they were collecting donations from people for “office building fund” and they were also booked under 17 criminal sections. Mr. Bhatia started harassing CPI(ML) activists after we conducted a strong protest against the killing of 8 dalits in Simri Banjara in the name of encounter with PWG on February 2001.

-- DP.Buxi