Budhu Majhi, Bharat Majhi, and others
HRDA has issued an urgent appeal to the National Human Rights Commission of India on August 31, regarding assault, intimidation, looting, and fabricated changes against Budhu Majhi, Bharat Majhi, and others for protesting against a custodial death.
Mr. Budhu Majhi, Mr. Bharat Majhi, and others are residents of Sarta village in Jehanabad district and belong to the Mushahar caste, classified as Mahadalits in Bihar (a historically marginalised community)
Mr. Govind Majhi from Sarta village was arrested for running a liquor business on July 19, 2021, and was remanded to Daudnagar sub-jail. On July 23, his family received a call from another prisoner and learnt that Mr. Majhi was seriously unwell. The family reached the jail the next day and found him to be dead with multiple injuries all over his body.
Alleging custodial death of Mr. Majhi, members of the village including Mr. Budhu Majhi, Mr. Bharat Majhi, and others started a peaceful protest and blocked Highway No 110, demanding action against the guilty police officials and immediate compensation to the family.
A police team of Paras Bigha Police station reached the spot and the station officer urged the protestors to lift the blockade. The protestors demanded to see the Superintendent of Police or the District Magistrate as a precondition for withdrawing the blockade. Later that day, a large contingent of police personnel arrived at the spot and stared baton-charging the protestors indiscriminately which forced the protestors to resist leading to many from both sides getting injured and the death of one police personnel.
After the incident, the police slapped multiple charges against the villages including Mr. Budhu Majhi, Mr. Bharat Majhi under various sections of the Indian Penal Code. A large contingent of the police force from the district came to the village attacking the villagers mostly from lower caste, raiding their homes and beating them indiscriminately with batons.
The action of the Jehanabad police violates the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19 (a) and peaceful association under Article 19 (b) of the Constitution of India. The excessive use of force also violates section 4 of the Code of Conduct for Police in India. It also violates the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights Defenders.