Sunita Devi, Bimla Devi, Tergani Devi, Anita Devi and others
Ms. Bimla Devi, Ms. Sunita Devi, Ms. Anita Devi and Ms. Tergani Devi are permanent residents of Lukumbar village in Garhwa district. They are members of the Korwa tribe and they had filed claims for individual and community rights in 2020 over a patch of land adjacent to their neighbourhood in the village, which has been kept in abeyance by the forest department.
On July 27, 2022 contingent of about 25 forest officials and police personnel led by the Van Kshetra Padadhikari, Ranka arrived in Lukumbar in three vehicles. No women personnel were present in the contingent. Forest officials and police heckled Ms. Bimla Devi, Ms. Sunita Devi, who was six months pregnant, and other Korwa women working on their farm in the forest clearing, for which claims had been filed under the Forest Rights Act in July 2020. They asked the women to leave as they planned to plant saplings on the land as part of an afforestation programme. When Ms. Bimla Devi, Ms. Sunita Devi and other women working in the field objected to this, forest officials and police personnel abused. Forest guards and police then brutally baton-charged Ms. Bimla Devi and the pregnant Ms. Sunita Devi till they collapsed on the ground. Two other Korwa women, Ms. Anita Devi and Ms. Tergani Devi also sustained injuries during the baton charge.
Human Rights Defenders Alert sent an urgent appeal to the National Human Rights Commission over the intimidation, casteist abuse and unprovoked assault of the women HRDs. The police did not register FIRs despite written complaints regarding the incident from the HRDs.
We urged the Hon’ble Commission to direct the Director General of Police of Jharkhand to immediately inquiry into brutal assault and intimidation by forest and police personnel and to immediately register an FIR based on their complaints against forest and police officials under relevant sections of the IPC pertaining to violence against women and the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, including Section 4 of the Act.