Santosh Thakur, Deepa Devi, Shivshankar Sanhi, and Madina Khatun
The four HRDs are part of the Gram Vichar Manch, an organisation focussed on protecting the rights and interests of MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) workers in Muzaffarpur district of Bihar.
On March 17, 2022, NREGA Rojgar Sevak of Dumri panchayat Mr. Sushil Kumar Paswan, submitted a written complaint at the Mushahari Police Station alleging that on March 15, the four HRDs and 400 other unidentified men and women captured and assaulted him and destroyed the MGNREGA muster roll. On March 18, an FIR was registered based on the complaint.
On March 20, a team of around 20 uniformed male police personnel, led by Station House Officer of Mushahari police station Mr. Sashi Bhusan Kumar, visited the residence of Mr. Santosh Thakur and Ms. Deepa Devi and forcibly took them to the Mushahari police station, where they were detained overnight. The police team did not have any female personnel and had reached Ms. Devi’s a little past midnight. On March 21, at around noon, they were produced before the Additional District & Sessions Judge, Muzaffarpur following which they were remanded in judicial custody. They were granted bail on March 24 and released on March 27.
The arrests of the HRDs were illegal and violated multiple DK Basu guidelines of arrest and in violation of the guidelines laid down by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
HRDA firmly believes that the arrest of HRDs was an abuse of power by the Bihar police and has sent an urgent appeal to the NHRC requesting that they direct the Director General of Police, Bihar to initiate an independent inquiry into this incident.