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Visit Note to Village Jharua in Manika Block of Latehar District,

Jharkhand

(12 th March, 2011)

On 24 th February, 2011 the undersigned received a mail from Dr. Jean Dreze, a

former member of Central Employment Guarantee Council (CEGC) alleging therein that a

fraud had been committed in implementation of Mahatma Gandhi NREGA works by one Shri

Kailash Sahu, the acting BDO of Manika Block in Latehar district of Jharkhand State in

collusion with one Shri Basudeo Nagesia, the Panchayat Sewak of Rankikala Panchayat in

respect of MGNREGA funds “bypassing the entire record keeping system”. The Panchayat

Sewak prepared 2 fake “Payment Advices” for which there were no corresponding Muster

Rolls, measurement books, MIS entries or any other record. The Payment Advice was signed

by the Panchayat Sewak Shri Basudeo Nagesia and the acting BDO Shri Kailash Sahu. The

BDO then signed a cheque for each Payment Advice and the money was siphoned off

through Post Office accounts of the fake workers, in collusion with the Postmaster of

Rankikala, Shri Ashok Tiwari. The workers appearing in these Payment Advices live far

away from the worksites concerned, and deny having worked there or having received any of

the money that was withdrawn in their name from the Post Office. Some of them (e.g. Sunil

Mochi s/o Banaudhi Mochi, of Aholiya Tola in Rankikala Village, a bus Khalasi who never

worked on Mahatma Gandhi NREGA) did not even know that a Post Office account had been

opened in their names. The complainant also enclosed copies of the relevant documents and

demanded enquiry/institution of a case [Annexure1].

2. The undersigned forwarded the above mail to the Principal Secretary of the State

Government vide his mail dated 26 th February, 2011 and requested to get a criminal case

registered against the guilty person; to remove the officials involved from the spot; and to

recover money embezzled. The Principal Secretary, Government of Jharkhand was cautioned

that unless these steps were taken expeditiously, the Government of India would be

compelled to act against the erring officials and other guilty persons under the provisions of

Section 27(2) of the Act. [Annexure 2]. The Principal Secretary, Government of Jharkhand

acknowledged the mail and intimated that a case had already been instituted and that an

action taken report would be sent within the next 24 hours vide his mail dated 28 th February,

2011[Annexure 3].

3. On 3 rd March, 2011 the undersigned received another e-mail from Dr Jean Dreze,

intimating that another MGNREGA activist Shri Niyamat Ansari, a resident of Kope Gram

Panchayat and a Mahatma Gandhi NREGA and Civil Right Activist was murdered after

having exposed a case of brazen embezzlement of Mahatma Gandhi NREGA funds in

Rankikala Gram Panchayat. In response to this report, an FIR was lodged against the main

culprit, Shri Kailash Sahu, former BDO of Manika. More than Rs. 2 lakhs were also

recovered from him and his accomplice, Shri Basudeo Nagesia, the Panchayat Sevak of

Rankikala. While the BDO and Panchayat Sevak were caught because their names are on the

fudged records, it is strongly suspected that the real mastermind behind this scam is Shankar

Dubey, a notoriously corrupt local contractor (himself protected by a former MLA of this

area). The family members of the deceased Niyamat Ansari strongly believed that the

‘goondas’ who had come to his house were Shri Shankar Dubey’s men. On 2 nd March 2011,

around 7 PM, Niyamat Ansari was picked up from his house and beaten mercilessly. He died

of injuries before it was possible for his relatives to remove him to the nearest hospital, in

Latehar [Annexure 4].

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4. Subsequently, a report was received from the Government of Jharkhand vide letter

dated 1 st March, 2011 which makes out that the complaint of Dr Jean Dreze had been

enquired into and substantiated. In 2 of the Schemes namely, construction of pond in Jhonjhi,

village Koilee, Gram Panchayat, Rankikala and Scheme No. 23/2009-10 construction of a

pond at Banerchuan, village Lanka of the same Panchayat of Manika Block, massive fraud

has been committed whereby funds had been withdrawn and paid without execution of the

Scheme. In yet another scheme relating to construction of a pond at Banerchuan in Village

Kui, a measurement of ` 2,90,227/- (Rupees Two Lakh Nintey Thousand Two Hundred and

Twenty Seven only) was recorded. Out of this a sum of ` 1,41,730/- was shown to have been

paid while the remaining amount had not been paid to the MGNREGA workers. The report

of the Collector indicated that a FIR had been lodged against Shri Kailash Prasad Sahu, the

BDO Manika Block, Shri Basudev Nagesia, the Panchayat Sevak, and Shri Ashok Tiwari,

Post Master, Rankikala vide Manika PS Case No. 18/11 dated 1.3.2011 and a sum of

` 98,010/- and ` 1,58,895/- had been released out of the amount embezzled in the above 2

cases [Annexure 5].

5. Another joint report was received from the Deputy Commissioner and Superintendent

of Police, Latehar vide letter dated 3.3.2011. The report stated that a complaint had been

lodged by Mossamat Saida Beebe, sister of the deceased Niyamat Ansari that on March 2,

2011 at around 7 PM, 10-12 armed persons came to their house and forcefully took away the

deceased Niyamat Ansari. For some time the shrieks of the deceased Niyamat Ansari were

heard after which they ceased. When sister and wife of the deceased went and saw they

found that the deceased Niyamat Ansari was lying on the ground and was taken to the PHC,

Manika where he was pronounced brought dead. The report also gives a list of the cases filed

under the Forest Act, rioting and other provisions of law against the deceased Niyamat Ansari

and suggests that there was deep rooted resentment amongst the villagers against the

activities of Niyamat Ansari on account of which he was done to death. The FIR filed by

Mossamat Saida Beebe names Sudarshan Ji alias Nand Kishore Bharti, Shankar Dubey, Vijay

Dubey, Purshottam Prasad, Arun Singh, Vashisht Tiwari, Prem Chand Singh, Deva Singh

and others as accused.

6. The deceased Niyamat Ansari was an active member of the Mahatma Gandhi

NREGA Sahayata Abhiyan, an organisation wedded to the interest of the Mahatma Gandhi

NREGA workers. This organisation would inspect the worksites and records of MGNREGA

works and would bring the irregularities to the knowledge of the authorities and the press.

He would also take up other causes like the rights of the forest dwellers, irregularities in the

PDS system, Mid Day Meal Scheme etc. It was on this account that many persons were

opposed to him. Sometimes back a meeting had been held in the village with alleged

Naxalite participation and they had put lock on his house. Despite this the deceased Niyamat

Ansari continued with his activities and exposed the fraud and deceitful payment in Mahatma

Gandhi NREGA works leading to the institution of cases on March 1, 2011. As per the Joint

Report of the DC and Superintendent of Police FIRs were lodged against Shri Kailash Prasad

Sahu, the then Block Development Officer Shri Basudeo Nagesia and Shri Ashok Tiwari,

Post Master, Rankikala vide Manika PS Case No. 18/11 dated 1.3.2011. A sum of ` 98,010/-

and ` 1,58,895/- were recovered from Shri Kailash Prasad Sahu for initiation of departmental

proceedings and Basudeo Nagesia, Panchayat Sevak has been placed under suspension.

Payment of outstanding dues of workers has been made [Annexure 6].

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7. A Joint Report of the Sub-Divisional Officer and Sub-Divisional Police Officer,

Latehar bears out that a number of cases have been filed against the deceased Niyamat Ansari

under Forest’s Act IPC and other Provisions of Law. This refers to Manika PS Case Nos.

9/09 U/S 447, 353, 504 IPC and Section 33/42 Forest Act, 60/09 U/S 341, 342, 323, 504 &

34 IPC, 19/08 U/S 341, 323, 307 & 504 IPC, 1/09 U/S , 13/09 U/S 107 CrPC, 50/09 U/S

107 CRPC. In addition a case was also instituted against the deceased Niyamat Ansari and

others for setting on fire the huts erected on the forest land. The Chief Secretary, Jharkhand

and the District Collector, Latehar were of the opinion that the deceased Niyamat Ansari was

in habit of extortion of money and for felling of trees on the forest land and that is the reason

why the Naxalites have killed him. It was also stated that the deceased Niyamat Ansari had

no ostensible means of livelihood and he was living on extortion. His son was studying at

DAV school at Latehar where he had constructed a large house. A local Naxalite Commandar

Sudarshan Ji has also been named in the FIR filed by Mossamat Saida Beebe, the sister of the

deceased Niyamat Ansari.

Visit to Village Jharua

8. The undersigned visited Village Jharua, the home village of the deceased Niyamat

Ansari along with Shri Rohit Kumar, Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development, Shri

Santosh Kumar Satpathy, Principal Secretary (RD), Government of Jharkhand, Shri Rahul

Purwar, Deputy Commissioner, Shri Kuldeep Dwivedi, SP, Latehar and other officials of the

State Government. In village Jharua the team visited the house of the deceased Niyamat

Ansari and enquired from Mossamat Saida Beebe, sister of the deceased Niyamat Ansari,

Hadeesh Mian, brother of the deceased, Mossamat Nuroosha Beebe, wife of the deceased,

Samsuddin Mian, father of the deceased, Ms. Meena Oraon, the Mukhiya of the Gram

Panchayat, Ms. Shyama Singh, member of Gram Swaraj Abhiyan NGO, Shri Vijay Bharti,

President of the Block Unit of the BJP, Shri Mahesh Singh, the Up-Pramukh of the

Panchayat, the SP Shri Kuldeep Dwivedi and the DC, Latehar Shri Rahul Purwar amongst

others.

9. Shri Hadeesh Mian, brother of the deceased Niyamat Ansari, stated that the deceased

Niyamat Ansari was active in bringing transparency in implementation of Mahatma Gandhi

NREGA works in that area and he used to fight for rights of NREGA workers. Some of the

poor people of the village had made houses on the forest land. He was trying to get their

rights confirmed something which was contested by some influential persons in the village.

The Naxalites got the impression that the deceased Niyamat Ansari was responsible for this.

So, they came one day and forcibly locked the house of the deceased Niyamat Ansari.

Regarding the incident leading to the murder, he said that on 2 nd March 2011, 10-12 arrned

persons came to their house at around 8.00 PM and started enquiring about his brother.

Brother’s daughter opened the door. They had guns in their hands. The family members all

got scared and his brother Niyamat Ansari hid inside the house. The assailants dragged him

from the house and tied his hands. Then some of them including Hadeesh Miyan also tried to

get help from the local villagers. There are around 20-25 houses in Tiwari Basti nearby, but

none came to his aid. The assailants took Niyamat Ansari away, tied him to a Mahua tree and

beat him with lathis and left him for dead. After the assailants had left wife of the deceased

and his sister reached the spot and found him injured. Niyamat Ansari expired before he

could be taken to hospital.

10. Mossamat Saida Beebe w/o the late Ali Hussain a widowed sister of the deceased

Niyamat Ansari, who was staying with him, stated that works under NREGA were executed

by contractors who take their share from the workers. Names of non- existent workers or

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those who had not worked were also included in the Muster Roll and the money would be

pocketed by the contractor in collusion with corrupt officials and others. The workers would

also be paid less at the rate of Rs.90/- instead of Rs. 120 and that too payment would be made

after a long time. Some of the villagers were acting as contractors or their agents and were

against her deceased brother. Her deceased brother Niyamat Ansari protested against such

acts of corruption along with one Bhukhan Kharwar and other members of Gram Swaraj.

Mossamat Saida Beebe further added that her deceased brother also took up the cases of such

persons who had constructed huts on the forest land and had been living there for long time.

Regarding the incident, she said, on the day of the occurrence some 12-15 individuals, some

of them armed with guns came very quietly. One of them pointed a gun at her and asked her

the location of the deceased Niyamat Ansari to which she replied that he was not at home.

The assailants told her that they had been informed of his presence on mobile and they knew

that he was there in the house. The deceased Niyamat Ansari hid under a bundle of a stalks of

maize but was detected by the assailants who forcibly dragged him out of his house and tied

his hands. The deceased Niyamat Ansari pleaded that he only works for the poor and he was

not at fault but they paid no heed to his pleas. She tried to follow him but they threatened to

shoot her and she had to return. The assailants then beat up the deceased with lathis and his

cries could be heard for a long time. When the cries subsided and the assailants had left she

reached the spot with the wife of the deceased and other family members and found him lying

unconscious. The deceased expired before he could be taken to hospital.

11. Mossamat Nuroosha Bibi, wife of the deceased Niyamat Ansari aged about 35

years stated that on the day of the incident her deceased husband Niyamat came home,

changed his shirt pant and started teaching their son. Suddenly in the evening somebody

came to our house and said “Kiwari kholo, garjion ko nikalo. She supported the statements of

Hadeesh Mian and Mossamat Saida Bibi. She further stated that the deceased had inherited

some landed property from his in-laws who had only daughters and had sold off the same.

He had undertaken construction of a one room house at Latehar which was incomplete for

want of resources. She also stated that her son was studying at DAV Latehar.

12. Ms Shyama Singh of Mahatma Gandhi NREGA Sahayata Kendra which functioned

under the aegis of Gram Swaraj Abhiyan, a nation-wide movement for empowerment stated

that she had been associated with the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan since 2001 along with the

deceased Niyamat Ansari. She is a resident of Village Sadhawadih of Manika Block, a 12 th

Pass and has been working in around 22 villages. Ms Shyama Singh alleged widespread

corruption in implementation of Mahatma Gandhi NREGA Programmes as also other

Programmes of the Government in the District namely, fudging of muster rolls, fake works

(only on papers), withdrawal of money under fake signatures in Post Office etc. She said that

prior to start of MGNREGA scheme, there was less threat to work for her in that area mainly

arising from the Social Security Scheme and PDS shopkeepers. However, since the inception

of NREGA, the threats have increased manifold. She said that Arun Singh is one of the

contractors who used to operate 2-3 years back in that area. Once he had taken contracts of

three MGNREGA works, one under his name and the other two in the name of his wife and

son. She also mentioned that a fraud has taken place in the Scheme of pond construction in

Banerchaunn, Village Lanka of Gram Panchayat, Rankikala, no actual work has been done

against that scheme and payment of around Rs. 1.58 lakhs has been withdrawn. They came

to know when few labourers of another area also called Banerchaun in Koyli Village of the

same Gram Panchayat came to her and said that there have been no payments given to them

for six months. She took up the matter to BPO office. The then BPO said that the last BDO

has embezzled a sum of around Rs. 14 lakh, so he was unable to make this payment. Then

they took up the matter to DC, Latehar and finally a Joint Audit Committee was constituted

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to enquire into the case. The deceased Niyamat Ansari was also made a member of that

Committee.

13. The Committee found that there is no such place called “Banerchaun” in Lanka

village and there was no such work as well. Instead, there is another place called

“Banerchaun” in Koyli village of the same Panchayat where another work of pond

construction was sanctioned and some Rs. 98,000 has been sanctioned and spent separately.

And the labourers who had been denied with payments of wages for six months were from

this worksite. The Committee finalised the Audit Report on 23.2.2011 and the murder took

place on 2.3.2011. The Mate who worked on the above fraudulent worksite was daughter-inlaw

(Putahu) of Shankar Dubey who was the known contractor in that area. For the past 2-3

years the deceased Niyamat Ansari and other members of the Mahatma Gandhi NREGA

Sahayata Kendra had been taking up issues in corruption in implementation of Mahatma

Gandhi NREGA Programme and other development programmes including the forest related

issues along with Bhukhan Ji (Bhukhan Kharwar) and others. That is the reason why the

vested interest groups had been annoyed with the deceased Niyamat Ansari and Bhukhan Ji.

14. Ms Shyama Singh, further alleged connivance of the Administration with such vested

interest and harassment of genuine workers at their hand. She further alleged that the

Naxalite elements were also at times in league with such corrupt officials and other vested

interest groups and were now trying to confuse the issue.

15. The statement of Ms Shyama Singh was supported by Shri James of the Mahatma

Gandhi NREGA Sahayata Kendra and other activists. He stated that on 24 th October 2010,

the Maoists had locked the door of Niyamat Ansari house. A fraud that had taken place in

pond construction in Banerchaun of Lanka village of Rankikala Panchayat. No muster rolls

has been maintained, the cheque was issued on 6.10.2010. Rakesh Tiwari, the Postmaster of

the local Post Office was also involved in the fraud. In the above case, FIR was also lodged

on 1 st March 2011 by the Block Programme Officer (BPO) and Niyamat was killed on the

following day ie 2.3.11 as retaliation for his unearthing the fraud in NREGA. Shri James

stated that the deceased Niyamat Ansari was aware of the threat to his life and yet he worked

to expose the fraud. He further stated that such acts of embezzlement are common and that

criminal and lumpen elements are operating in the names of Naxalites in league with corrupt

officialdom and contractors. Shri James apprehended danger to his own life and to that of Dr

Jean Dreze but would continue raising the issues related to corruption and malpractices in

Mahatma Gandhi NREGA and other development programmes of the Government.

16. Shri Rahul Purwar, Deputy Commissioner, Latehar stated that the deceased Niyamat

Ansari had no ostensible means of livelihood and was in habit of living on extortion from

officials and others. There were many criminal cases filed against him and he was killed

because of his antecedents. He expressed that the District Administration had been very

prompt in taking action against the errant ex-BDO Kailash Prasad Sahu and the Panchayat

Sevak Basudeo Nagesia. The Deputy Commissioner had not visited the village after the

incident. The Superintendent of Police Shri Kuldeep Dwivedi by and large supported the

statement of the Deputy Commissioner and admitted that no arrest has been made in the case.

Facts-in-Issue

17. The following are the facts-in-issue in this enquiry:

i. Whether it is a fact that there is rampant corruption in the implementation of

the Mahatma Gandhi NREGA programme in the district?

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ii. Whether the deceased Niyamat Ansari was active as a member of a vigilant

group keeping a watch over the Mahatma Gandhi NREGA programme in the

district?

iii. Whether the murder of the deceased Niyamat Ansari arises from his activities

as a whistleblower?

iv. Who are the persons responsible for the murder of the deceased Niyamat

Ansari?

v. What have been the responsibilities of the DPC in this incident?

vi. What are the recommendations for preventing recurrence of such incidence in

the future?

Corruption in Mahatma Gandhi NREGA

18. It has to be admitted that there is widespread corruption in the implementation of the

Mahatma Gandhi NREGA programme in the district of Latehar. In the year 2010 earlier a

team led by Deputy Secretary (MGNREGA), Shri Rohit Kumar had visited Latehar and

found that many Schemes did not exist on the ground. The State Government had been

requested to take action against the officials and others guilty of acts of omission and

commission including supervisory lapses but no action appears to have been taken against the

DPC and the other senior officials. This matter had been brought to the notice of the State

authorities personally by the Secretary (RD) and the State Government was requested to

handover the case to the CBI on the ground that it did not require a team from the

Government of India to unearth such irregularities while there was a whole retinue of

officials in the district entrusted with the powers of superintendence over the matter. Only

minor officials have been placed under suspension and acted against.

19. There is no place for contractors in the programme. However, it is evident that there

is a predominance of contractors in the implementation as is corroborated by the statement of

witnesses. These contractors belong to the influential section of the society and are in a

position to create linkages with the administration. It appears that all the control points in the

implementation of the programme have been neutralised and there is interlocking of the

various interest groups over the issue of sharing illegal gains from the programme. The entire

programme appears to be sinking in corruption.

20. The incident also creates a doubt regarding the authenticity of the reports submitted

regarding the progress. It is only a matter of chance that this incident was detected thanks to

some very spirited action on part of a vigilant group, though at a tremendous cost. It is

evident that there is animus between the vigilante groups and the district administration.

During the course of my stay there was a consistent attempt to depict the vigilant groups as

extortionists and criminal and not a word was said in acknowledgement of their role, so much

so for a person which had risked and sacrificed his life upholding the rights of the Mahatma

Gandhi NREGA workers.

Membership of the Deceased in a Watch Group

21. In so far as the second fact issue is concerned it is more than evident that the deceased

Niyamat Ansari was an active member of a watch group. The District Administration also

admits this fact but also alleges that he was doing extortion in the guise of watch over the

acts. However, if this were true the deceased could have settled the issue with the contractors

and the corrupt elements and not brought the matter to the notice of the senor officials and Dr

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Jean Dreze. On the other hand there is overwhelming evidence forthcoming including from

the Mukhiya of the Panchayat that the deceased was part of watch group which exposed

corruption in the implementation of Mahatma Gandhi NREGA.

22. The statement of Ms Shyama Singh is most pertinent in this regard. She clearly spells

out the genesis and the activities of this group and holds that this group is part of a larger

movement and was formed with the purpose to expose corruption in the implementation of

the programme and secure the rights of the Mahatma Gandhi NREGA workers. This also

supported by the statement of Shri James and others of the group.

Correlation between Exposure of Corruption and Murder

23. Here there is a contradiction between the version of the District and the State

Administration that the deceased was killed by the Naxalites because he was indulging in tree

felling which reduces the hiding space of the latter and that of the activists that the deceased

was killed because he was exposing the corruption in the programme. Here, the sequence of

events is important. On 26.2.11 there is the first report which is brought to the notice of the

Principal Secretary (Rural Development) Jharkhand and he in turn directs the District

Administration to hold an enquiry and take the necessary action. An enquiry is held and it

reveals fraud, duplication, forgery, cheating, falsification of records and embezzlement of

Government funds. A case is instituted on 1.3.11 and the murder takes place on the

following day. Had, the murder been committed as a warning for felling trees any other

opportunity could have been used which would not create this impression.

24. The Mahatma Gandhi NREGA schemes are administered under an Act framed by the

Parliament. It has legal entitlements and casts obligations upon the State. This is not the first

incident of murder of Mahatma Gandhi NREGA workers in the State. There have been a

series of such murders in the State as given in [Annexure 7]. This indicates that the vested

interest have been so strong that they do not brook any interference with their siphoning the

Mahatma Gandhi NREGA funds and the State appears too weak to enforce the law. It follows

from the preceding paragraph that incidence of widespread corruption in the implementation

of the programme has created successive webs of vested interests within the administration.

The fact that the State has not been able to bring the culprits in the past cases of murder of the

whistleblowers indicates the strength of the vested interest groups. It goes without saying

that such cases needed to be dealt with in a fast track court.

25. There is the alternative theory of the murder being committed by the Naxalites

because the deceased Niyamat Ansari was cutting down trees in the forests. There are cases

registered against him. Admittedly, the Naxalites in the past had expressed their displeasure

by locking up his house. However, it does appear from the statement of witnesses that the

deceased Niyamat Ansari had taken up the cause of the poor persons who had staked a claim

to forest lands under the Forest Rights Act. It is also a fact, as admitted by the Deputy

Commissioner, Latehar that Forest Rights claims are pending in respect of 94 acres of land.

26. It is also an admitted fact that the deceased Niyamat Ansari and Bhukhan Kharwar

had taken up a mass struggle on behalf of the poor villagers who had staked claims to the

above land under the Forest’s Right Act 2006 (Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest

Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights Act). During the last few years, 86 families in

Kope, including Bhukhan and Niyamat, have been trying to establish claims on local forest

land under the Forest Rights Act. This was part of a larger movement in the area, supported

by Bharat Jan Andolan and the Campaign for Survival and Dignity. It was, however, opposed

7


y the influential sections of Kope Gram Panchayat, led by the same corrupt contractors

involved in committing malpractices in Mahatma Gandhi NREGA Programme. It was

pointed out by Fr. George Manipally, local convenor of Bharat Jan Andolan, for them this

was just another way of “retaliating” against Bhukhan and Niyamat. For instance, it is

unlikely to be a coincidence that the so-called “Van Suraksha Samiti” formed by the

influential sections in response to this movement lodged a malicious FIR against Bhukhan,

Niyamat and others in this matter at the precise time when the contractors were under the

scrutiny of a NREGA Lok Adalat, in February 2009. The influential elements of the society

indeed with the forest officials wanted to grab this land for themselves and they mounted a

murderer’s attack against the deceased Niyamat Ansari and Bhukhan Kharwar in the night of

October 16, 2010. A copy of the Petition filed before the NHRC is placed at [Annexure 8].

27. However, the sequence of events as stated above indicates a cause-and-effect

relationship between the two incidents. Denudation of forest cover is a natural process

arising from the growth in population and weak management of forests. The deceased had

supported the claims of those who are stakeholders in the process. The Government has, by

law, recognised the rights of persons who had hitherto been encroachers on the forest lands.

This process has continued over the course of years. It does not stand to reason that the

Naxalites would like to punish a person for this and even if they did the timing would have

been different. They had ample opportunities to carry out their act earlier or later. The fact

that it comes close at the heels of the act of exposure of fraud indicates that there is a definite

cause-and-effect relationship between the two. It is clear from the statement of witnesses and

others that there was widespread corruption in the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi

NREGA programmes; this had given rise to powerful vested interest groups within the

administration; the vigilante groups had exposed some of these frauds on account of which

these groups had felt threatened; and the murder was a necessary outcome of this act of

exposure.

Who are Responsible for this Murder?

28. According to the version of the District Administration this murder has been

committed by the Naxalite groups over the question of felling of trees. This is also convenient

to close a case as the Naxalites do not appear as witnesses before the courts of law, the Police

and for investigation otherwise. Chargesheet could be submitted against them showing them

as absconders or simply as ‘FRT insufficient evidence’. There are other named FIR accused

persons but no action has been taken against them. The fact that the Naxalites cannot be

called to account also affects the investigation in respect of the others.

29. The question is that could there be an alternative to this? It has been seen in the

preceding issue that the murder of the deceased Niyamat Ansari was the outcome of exposure

of the fraud in Mahatma Gandhi NREGA programmes. It also appears from the evidence of

witnesses that notwithstanding the attempts to dub the deceased Niyamat Ansari that the

deceased had been taking up the cause of the poor people both for the assertion of the rights

of the Mahatma Gandhi NREGA workers and for their Forest Rights claims. The latter is

likely to result in brush with the forest authorities and hence institution of cases is not out of

place as the experience would have. This gives rise to probabilities like whether the services

of the Naxalites were hired to eliminate the deceased Niyamat Ansari or that the persons who

committed the murder were not Naxalites at all and they were criminals masquerading as

Naxalites. We were given to understand that the Naxalites put up posters owning

responsibilities in such cases. It is the considered opinion of the undersigned that even such

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posters cannot be accepted as evidence unless the culprits were to surrender and make a

statement U/S 164 CrPc.

30. The FIR already names accused persons including Shankar Dubey, Vijay Dubey sons

of Bishwanath Dubey, Purushottam Prasad s/o Ganesh Prasad, Bamihar Tiwari of village

Kope, Arun Singh s/o Keshari Singh of village Jagtu, Prem chand Singh s/o Ganga Singh and

Deva Singh of village Jerua amongst the other accused persons. The motive of some of these

persons is well established from the statements of witnesses and others. The enquiry also

leads to strong motive on part of the Block officials whose interests have been so harmed to

be involved in the murder. It is just possible that they have created behind the scene impetus

to facilitate the murder. Such incidents are not altogether unknown particularly when the

administering machinery from the programme is steeped in corruption. There are grounds for

reasonable suspicion that the Naxalites are driven by public goods and they always act in the

interest of the public. To the contrary they have emerged as a ‘power block’ in the rural

society and have become a part of the elite structure. They have become a part of the vested

interest groups and have their points of adjustment with the administration. Had it not been

so they would given a call for action against the corrupt elements and would have ensured

that the Mahatma Gandhi NREGA funds reach the pockets of the poor. There have been

talks of lumpenisation and criminalisation of the Naxalite Movement. It is vital to know that

to what point do the wires of conspiracy run and who are the persons behind the scene who

have choreographed this murder. The undersigned consider it their bounden duty to place

this fact on record or else such social activists who work exposing their lives to risk will be

exposed to greater danger and there will be more and more of such murders until the

opposition to such corrupt elements cease altogether and the poor and their organisations are

reduced to submission.

31. This enquiry is not a substitute for investigation under Chapter XII CrPC. The role of

the different parties has to be investigated and established. This will require investigation of

the highest quality. The Latehar Police have done nothing to indicate that they have gone into

the matter. It is only specialised agencies like the CBI who will be in a position to unravel

the mystery.

32. Even after the Charge Sheet is submitted against the accused persons and the task of

bringing them to speedy trial will remain. The normal courts of law are so overloaded with

work that substantive time will have lapsed before the cases are taken up for trial. For justice

to have deterrent effect it is necessary that not only should the case be well investigated but it

should also be brought to speedy trial leading to punishment. It will necessary to refer the

matter to ‘fast track courts’ and where such courts do not exist it shall be necessary to create

such courts.

Responsibility of the District Programme Co-ordinator (DPC)

33. The Mahatma Gandhi NREGA delineates the responsibilities for implementation of

the Act i.e. ensuring the rights of minimum 100 days of employment to their holders. Section

14(2) of the Act provides: “The District Programme Coordinator shall be responsible for the

implementation of the Scheme in the district in accordance with the provisions of this Act

and the rules made thereunder”.

34. The duties of maintaining the transparency has been further cast upon the DPC under

the schematic arrangement for the administration of the Act. Section 23(2) of the Act

provides: “The State Government may prescribe the manner of maintaining proper books and

9


accounts of employment of labourers and the expenditure incurred in connection with the

implementation of the provisions of this act and the Schemes made thereunder”. Under the

above provisions of law it is the DPC who is responsible for implementation of the Mahatma

Gandhi NREGA Programme. In the instant case it has already been mentioned that the track

record of the DPC-cum-the Collector of the District has been full of blemishes. It has been

mentioned that in the year 2010 Shri Rohit Kumar, DS (MGNREGA), MoRD had visited

Latehar and had found serious irregularities in the implementation of the programme. In

many areas many schemes were found not existing on the ground. It is a travesty of the

highest order that such irregularities were left to a Deputy Secretary in the Government of

India to travel about 1200 kms to discover while the DPC whose fundamental duty it is to

bring to account such matters was within 20 kms and did not act against it. The Government

of India have been instituted a system of rewards for excellent performance in MGNREGA

under the DPC category. However, it stands to logic that the persons who have performed

poorly in the programme should be held responsible. The Government of Jharkhand was

requested to fix responsibility and act in this matter which it has not done so far to the best of

the knowledge of this office.

35. In the instant case also the charge of BDO was given to a Cooperative Supervisor

whereas it was possible to work out other arrangements. A regular BDO from the Jharkhand

Administrative Service Cadres would be more restrained and honest in his approach. It is not

understood as to why such an arrangement was made which led to defalcation in the

aforementioned 2 cases. Moreover, having once made the arrangement it should have been

the obvious duty of the DPC to keep a strict vigil on the activities of the BDO. The absence

of some elementary precautions like personal inspection etc clearly casts a doubt over the

intentions of the DPC.

36. We also find the supervision and control by the DPC over the MGNREGA poor and

deplorable. Section 14(3)(e) provides that the DPC shall be responsible to review, monitor

and supervise the performance of Programme Officers and (f) to conduct periodic inspection

of works in progress and (g) to redress the grievances of the applicants. Latehar is not a large

district with only 9 blocks. It is possible for the DPC to inspect all schemes personally.

However, the fact that he allowed such deficit in implementation to build up so that there

were repeated cases of fake and ‘farzi’ schemes shows the inadequacy of supervision and the

failure of the DPC to implement the provisions of law. He was aware that the deceased

Niyamat Ansari and Bhukhan Kharwan were likely to be the target of the vested interest

groups. Yet, he failed to take precautions for protection of these 2 persons. Shri Bhukhan

Kharwan would have been killed had he been present in his house on the fateful evening.

37. The Joint Report of the Deputy Commissioner and the Superintendent of Police,

Latehar and also the Joint Report of the Sub-Divisional Officer and the Deputy

Superintendent of Police seeks to create the impression that mother of the deceased Niyamat

Ansari was committed by the Naxalites for his alleged tree felling activities. However, in

view of the aforementioned paragraphs it clearly transpires that the picture is different from

what has been painted. Apart from the FIRs the merits of which have been discussed earlier

there is nothing to indicate that the deceased Niyamat Ansari was either a criminal or was

engaged in illegal felling of trees. To the contrary there is evidence to be had that he had

taken up the cause of the poor villagers who had constructed huts on the degraded forest

lands and had staked claims to same under the Forest’s Right Act 2006 (Scheduled Tribes

and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act). The impression

had also been sought to be created that the deceased Niyamat Ansari was an extortionist, a

criminal and was engaged in tree felling. The District Administration has been a party to

10


creation of this impression and thereby has tried to mislead the Central Government. The

undersigned find that the above charges are yet to be proved against the deceased Niyamat

Ansari and are by and large unsubstantiated.

38. It is also surprising that the Panchayats have not been involved with implementation

of the Mahatma Gandhi NREGA Programme. Ms Meena Oraon, the newly elected Post

Graduate Sarpanch of the Gram Panchayat informed that she has been in office for more than

2 months now but, no papers have been put up before her and she does not know about the

implementation of the programme. This is indirect violation of Section 13(1) and 17 of the

Act where the Panchayats are involved as not less than 50 per cent of the works have to be

implemented through Panchayats. Had this provision of law been complied with the

embezzlement would not have taken place.

Recommendations

1. It is quite evident that the senior officers do not visit the worksites. All senior officers

may be assigned a Block each and it shall be compulsory for them to visit all

worksites.

2. In case of any serious infringement of law like non-existent work being executed, less

payment, preparation of ‘farzi’ muster rolls, job cards, making incorrect entries etc the

Programme Officer shall be immediately placed under suspension.

3. Biometric Attendance and e-muster rolls may be introduced.

4. Works given to all labourers should be recorded on the walls of the Gram

Panchayats/Schools as in Rajasthan.

5. In case of serious irregularities being reported in the District the DPC may be

proceeded against for dereliction of duty.

6. In the instant case, charges of gross dereliction of duties, lack of supervision,

impropriety in execution of works and attempts to cover up a murder appear to have

been committed. The DPC did not even visit the Village till March 12, 2011. Serious

action needs to be taken against the DPC, the DDC, the PO and other supervisory

officers who must be transferred out and placed under suspension and departmentally

proceeded against. This is the second serious supervisory lapse committed by the

DPC.

7. Entries of performance in implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi NREGA

Programme should be made in the ACR of the officers as evaluated by an independent

Committee at the GoI level/at the State level.

8. A clause should be added to the Prevention of Atrocities against SC/ST Act as Section

3(3): “whosoever threatens, coerces, harms the person or property of any social

activist engaged in the audit, social audit, inspection of Mahatma Gandhi NREGA

works or protection of the interests of the Mahatma Gandhi NREGA workers

including SC/ST workers so as to prevent him from discharge of his duties shall be

punished with rigorous imprisonment not less than 5 years.”

11


Annexure 1 - Mail from Dr Jean Dreze

Annexure 2 – Mail of Secretary (RD)

Annexure 3 – Mail from the Principal Secretary, G/o Jharkhand

Annexure 4 – Mail from Dr Jean Dreze

Annexure 5 – Report of G/o Jharkhand dated 1.3.2011

Annexure 6 – Joint Report of the DC and Superintendent of Police,

Latehar (FIR of Manika PS Case No. 18/11 dated 1.3.2011

Annexure 7 – Cases of Past Murders of Social Activists

Annexure 8 – Copy of the Petition filed before NHRC

13


Ranki kala Scam (Manika Block, Latehar): Summary

Annexure 1

This is an exceptional case of blatant fraud where the then acting BDO of Manika, Shri

Kailash Sahu, colluded with the Panchayat Sevak of Rankikala (Shri Basudev Nagesia) to

embezzle NREGA funds by bypassing the entire record-keeping system. Briefly, the

Panchayat Sevak (PS) prepared two fake "Payment Advices", for which there are no

corresponding Muster Rolls, Measurement Books, MIS entries or any other records (these

Payment Advices are signed by the PS and BDO only). The BDO then signed a cheque for

each Payment Advice and the money was siphoned off through Post Office accounts of the

fake workers, in collusion with the Postmaster Rankikala, Shri Ashok Tiwari. The workers

listed in these Payment Advices live far away from the concerned worksites, and deny having

worked there or having received any of the money that was withdrawn in their name from the

Post Office. Some of them (e.g. Sunil Mochi s/o Banaudhi Mochi, of Aholiya Tola in

Rankikala Village, a bus khalasi who never worked on NREGA) did not even know that a

Post Office account had been opened in their name!

These facts were initially established by the NREGA Sahayata Kendra Manika, and

submitted to the Latehar District Collector, Shri Rahul Purwar, who directed the SDO

Latehar to conduct a joint enquiry with members of the Sahayata Kendra on 21 February

2011. The SDO Latehar came to Manika that day, and examined the records available at the

Block office, but refused to proceed to Rankikala to verify the Post Office records or talk to

the workers listed in the fake Payment Advices (he was unable to give any valid reason for

this and appeared to be under pressure to protect some of the culprits). The Sahayata Kendra

team (including James Herenj, Jean Dreze and Niyamat Ansari) proceeded to Rankikala, took

photographs of the Post Office records, and talked to some of the workers listed in the fake

Payment Advices. The SDO Latehar came back the next day and was able to verify the facts

for himself.

Further information, including details of the relevant documents, are given in the attached

summary report prepared by James Herenj (coordinator, Sahayata Kendra Manika).

Photocopies of these documents are available on request.

This is an extreme case of brazen embezzlement, violation of all the record-keeping rules,

and "capture" of the Post Office by corrupt middlemen. Stern action is essential to stop the

rot. An FIR should be lodged immediately against the main culprits: Kailash Sahu (former

BDO, Manika) and Basudev Nagesia (Panchayat Sevak, Rankikala).

Jean Dreze, 24 February 2011

Aruna Roy

Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS)

Village Devdungri, Post Barar

District Rajsamand 313341

Rajasthan

e mail: mkssrajasthan(&,gmail.com

web site : www.mkssindia.org

Telephone : +91 9413204488

+91 9929519361

01463-288247


fromBirendra Kumar Sinha

tosantoshk1958@gmail.com

ccarunaroy@gmail.com

bccjaandaraz@gmail.com

date26 February 2011 15:26

subjectFwd: Death of NREGA worker in Jharkand and case of fraud

mailed-bygmail.com

hide details 26 Feb

Dear Santosh,

Annexure 2

Forwarded herewith is a message from Dr Jean Dreze, a former member of the

CEGC and a permanent invitee to the same now. The contents of the message

is extremely disturbing and speaks of a clear conspiracy on part of the senior

officials to cause wrongly loss to the MG NREGA worker and wrongful gain to

themselves. I have earlier also drawn your attention to such practices in

Jharkhand but the State Government has failed to act. I have already requested

a team headed by Ms Aruna Roy and Dr Jean Dreze to enquire into the matter

but the report enclosed may be treated a preliminary enquiry report on the basis

of which a prima facie case is being established. Pending the equiry the

following steps need to be take immediately:

i. Get a criminal case registered against the guilty persons;

ii. Remove the officials involved from the spot;

iii. Recover the money embezzled;

I must also inform you that until the action is completed the action is liable to

be taken against you U/S 27(2) of the Act.

YS,

- Show quoted text -

Forwarded message

From: aruna roy

Date: 26 February 2011 09:23

Subject: Death of NREGA worker in Jharkand and case of fraud

To: "Dr.B.K.Sinha"


santosh satapathy

toBirendra Kumar Sinha

date28 February 2011 14:12

subjectRe: NREGA scam in Manika - urgent request for action

mailed-bygmail.com

Signed bygmail.com

hide details 28 Feb

Sir,

Annexure 3

I have received your mail regarding the fraudulent transactions in MGNREGA payments in

Latehar. I understand, criminal cases have already been lodged against the culprits. I will be sending

you a factual and action taken report in the next 24 hours.

Kind regards,

S.K. Satapathy


Jean Dreze

torahulpurwar74@gmail.com

ccJames Herenj ,

Birendra Kumar Sinha ,

RDD Jharkhand ,

Reetika Khera ,

gurjeet singh

date3 March 2011 11:08

subjectcomplaint address to SP Latehar re murder of Niyamat Ansari - kindly forward urgently

mailed-bygmail.com

Signed bygmail.com

hide details 3 Mar

Dear Mr. Purwar,

Annexure 4

Please forward this complaint urgently to SP Latehar and ask him to (1) help Niyamat Ansari's

relatives and friends to lodge an FIR without any fear of intimidation; (2) initiate a swift and

thorough enquiry into this incident; and (3) meanwhile, arrest the prime suspects, Shankar Dubey of

Rankikalan and his son Babloo Dubey of Rankikalan Gram Panchayat.

Thank you,

Jean Dreze

To: Superintendent of Police

Manika District, Latehar

Dear Sir,

MOST URGENT: Murder of Niyamat Ansari in Manika Block

3 March 2011

We are writing to alert you to the murder of Mr. Niyamat Ansari (resident of Kope

Gram Panchayat, Manika Block) last night (2 March 2011), and urge you to take

immediate action against the prime suspects.

A summary of the facts is as follows:

1. Niyamat Ansari is a well-known, law-abiding and peace-loving resident of

Kope Gram Panchayat. He has been working during the last few years with

Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (a bona fide NGO, well-known in this area) and with

the NREGA Sahayata Kendra Manika, courageously helping NREGA

workers to secure their rights under the law.


2. Last week, on 20 February 2011, Niyamat Ansari was part of an investigation

team that exposed a scam in NREGA works in Rankikalan Gram Panchayat,

whereby the former BDO (Kailash Sahu) and Panchayat Sevak Rankikalan

(Basudev Nagesia) colluded to embezzle NREGA funds. A summary of the

case is given in Annexure 1. This summary report, along with further details

and documents, were submitted to the DC Latehar (Shri Rahul Purwar) as

well as to Dr. B.K. Sinha (Secretary, Rural Development, Government of

India), with a request for immediate action. In response to this report, an FIR

was lodged against the former BDO a few days later.

3. While the involvement of the BDO and Panchayat Sevak could be

immediately established because they have signed the fudged NREGA

records, it is believed that this scam was orchestrated by Babloo Dubey, son

of Shankar Dubey, a notorious, corrupt local contractor who had already

been implicated in similar scams earlier. He (Shankar Dubey) is also

believed to be responsible for an earlier attempt on Niyamat Ansari's life, in

October 2008, when armed goons came to his house — he had a miraculous

escape after hiding in a pile of wood. In fact, there has been a whole series

of incidents of harassment, beatings, false cases and attempted murder on

Niyamat Ansari from then on, and it is a matter of common knowledge in the

area that Shankar Dubey (possibly protected by Ram Chander Ram, former

MLA belonging to RJD) was the linchpin of these criminal activities.

4. On 2 March 2011, around 7 pm, Niyamat Ansari was attacked again. He was

forcibly taken away from his home and beaten mercilessly with lathis. He

was left unconscious and his body was then lifted by his relatives, who

carried him by foot all the way to Manika. Niyamat Ansari died of his injuries

on the way from Manika to Latehar hospital.

Niyamat Ansari's relatives, who witnessed his abduction and the incident yesterday,

will be able to give further details. However, please note that they are facing serious

threats and intimidation, including a specific threat that their houses will be burnt

down if the police intervenes. We requested you to (1) help Niyamat Ansari's

relatives and friends to lodge an FIR without any fear of intimidation; (2) initiate a

swift and thorough enquiry into this incident; and (3) meanwhile, arrest the prime

suspects, Shankar Dubey of Rankikalan and his son Babloo Dubey.

Please treat this as a First Information Report, in addition to any FIR that may be

filed by Niyamat's relatives or any other person.

Jean Dreze Reetika Khera

(National Advisory Council)


*mow.

OFFICE OF THE DEPUTY COMMISSIONER, LATEHAR MARKHAM)

Leite

Rahul Kumar Purwar, .A.5.

Deputy .Commissioner

-cum-

District Pr gramme Co-orcfinator

Latehar (Jharkband)

Sri S.K Satapathy

Secretary to Government

Rural Development Department

Jhark.hand, Ranchi

DRDA/Latehar, Date:- c r March,2011

Subject:- Regarding irregularities done by Sri Ka ash sad Sahu the then incharge Block

Development Officer, Manika (03.08.10 to 20.10 ,10) and Basuclev Nagesiya, Panchayaf

Sevak, fvlanika : Sri Ashok Tiwari, Post Master, Post Office : Rankikala under MGNREGA.

With the reference to the above subject a ccf fmplaint petition was tilled by Mr. Jai_s herenj,

member of me Sahayata Kendra team. Manika that Mr. Kailash Sarni the then incharge B,D.0 Manika (03.08.10

to 20.08.10) and So Basudev Nagesia, Panchayat Sevak have done serious irregularities and misappropriation

MGNREGA fund in execution of the scheme No. 4912009-10 and 23/2009-10 of Manika Block by :fudging

tfte muster rolls.

On receivin g complaint the matter was enquired into by S.D,O. Latehar The enquiry report of

.0., Latehar was c., d by his letter No,- 145. dt. 23.02,11 and Letter No. 154, dr. 28,02.11,

On Perusal of the enquiry reports, following irregularities were found

Construction of Pond in ihonjhi village Koilee, Panchayat Rankikala.

(Annexure- "A-Al" Copy of of enquiry reports attached')

R.s. 98,0101- (Ninety eight thousand & ten rupees only) was drawn from the reserve fund of Post

Office branch Rankikaia on 07.10.10 whereas the scheme started on 19..02.11.

= fund was withdrawn (fore actual execution of the scheme.

Without doing any work anti preparation of muster roll. i.e. on the basis of fake advice slips the

payment was done.

Reri:Ord of the scheme was not maintained.

On basis of forged Advise slips the payment was do through Post Office,

Scheme No. 2312009-10, construction of pond at Ban Gnu in the village Lanka of Manika

Block.

There is no site place Banerchuan in the village L.a nk.a. iT is lot a sanctioned scheme.

1


Sri Kailash Prasad Sahu incharge B.D.G. signed the cheque for payment on 2710,10 whereas he

handed over the charge of B.D.O. on 2010,10. It is a serious irregularity done by Mr. Kailash Pd,

Sahu,

On the verification of the advice slips it was found that none of the labourers receive The payment.

So, it is obvious that all payments was made to forged persons with the collusion of the concerned

post office,

3, in the village Kui, construction of pond at Bandarchuan.

This is a Sanctioned Scheme by the district authority.

The estimated cost of the scheme is 6.847 lakns,

Rs: '1,41,730,00 (One iakh forty one thousand seven hundred thirty only was paid till 10.09.10

against the measurement of Rs. 290227.00

Rest payment to labours was not done. This is an irregularity of MGNREGA act & provision.

Actions taken against Sri Kailash Pd. Sahu the then BD.°. Manika and Sri Basudev Nagesia, Panchyat

Sewak of Manika Block are as follow

On the basis of enquiry reports of 5.00. Latehar an FIR was lodged against Sri Kailash Pd. Sahu,

the then Block Development Officer, Sri Basudeo Nagesia Panchyat Sewak and Sri Ashok Tiwari

the Postmaster, Rankikala in Manika Police Station. FIR P.S. Manika. case No16/11 dated

01,03,201.

(Annexure- "B" Copy of FIR is attached).

Rs. 98,010.00 (Ninetyeight thousands & ten rupees only has been realised from Sri Kailash Pd.

Sahu the then, BDO Manika vide Manika blocks Nazir Receipt No. 0266107 dated 28.02.2011

against scheme "construction of pond in Jhonjhi in village Koilee".

(Annexure- 'C" Copy of NR is attached,)

Rs. 1,58,895,00 ( One lakh fifty eight thousands eight hundred ninty five only has been realised

from Sri Kailash Pd. Sahu the then, BOO Manika vide Manika block's Nazir Receipt No. 0268108

dated 01,03.2011against scheme "construction of pond in Bandarchuan in village Lanka'

(Annexure ''D" Copy of NR is attached).

For initiating departmental proceeding against Sri Kailash Prasad Sahu a report has been sent to

Principle Secretary, Rural Development Department, Govt, of Jharkhand, Ran-hi with a copy to

Commissioner MGNREGA ; Ranch.

Annexure- "E" Copy of report of dpt. proceding is attached)


Basudev Nagesia, Panchyat Sewak has been suspended and departmental proceeding has been

initiated, to take necessary disciplinary action against the concerned official,

Outsiding payment to labourers for construction of pond in village Kui has been done.

Submitted for your Kind consideration and necessary action,

Regards,

(Annexure- "Fr is attached).

(Annexure- "G" is attached).

You faithfully

(Rahul Kumar Purwar)

Deputy Commissioner

-cum-

District Programme Co-ordinator

Latehar (Jharkhand)

Letter no:- 43 5 DRDAJ Latehar Date:- cf- March,2011

To tie Commissioner MGNREGA, RDD Jharkhand for information and is requested to take

necessary steps,

Copy To Ms, Amita Sharma, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development Department (NREGA

Division). Krishi Bhawan, Govt. of India, New Delhi-110001 for kind information,

Copy To Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development -Department, Krishi Bhawan, Govt, of India. New

Delhi-110001 for kind information.

(Rahul Kumar Purwar)

Deputy Commissioner

-cum-

DistrttirRrokyv atimb Crdtgiattx

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25/03/2011 07:41 06512401802 NREGA COMMISSIONER PAGE 02

Government of Jharkhand

Rural Development Department

Letter no - 4-2017(Arop/ Latehar)/2011/RD tt 2 (q-e.i.cf)

From,

To,

S.K. Satapathy,

Principal Secretary to Government.

Sri B.K. Sinha,

Secretary to Government,

Ministry of Rural Development,

Government of India,

Krishi Bliawan, New Delhi.

/Ranchi. Dated- )-Lf ) 24)1

Sub : Regarding murder of Sri Niyamat Ansari of Manika Block, Latehar District.

Sir,

With reference to the above cited subject I have to say that on receipt of

complaint through e-mail regarding murder of Sri Niyamat Ansari of Matilda Block, DC-cum-

DPC, Latehar was directed to take necessary action and submit report.

DC-cum-DPC and SP Latehar have submitted joint report vide No. 167 dated

03.03.2011 which has been forwarded to Ministry of Rural Development vide No. 1247 dated

03.03.2011 of this department.

Further I have to say that the following actions have been taken in this case :-

(l) Criminal proceedings have been initiated by filing FIR in M.a.nika P.S. of Latehar District

bearing case No. 20/11 of 03.03.2011. One of the name accused Sri Adult Singh has

been arrested and sent to jail.

(2) Family of the deceased Niyamat Ansari has been covered under National Social Security

and Relief Network by providing old age pension to his father.

(3) Widow pension has been sanctioned to his wife,

(4) Benefit under National Family Benefit Scheme has been provided to his wife.

(5) It is reported by DC and SP, Latehar that CPI (Maoist) has taken responsibility of the

incident.

A copy of the second joint reoprt of DC & SP Latehar (Letter No. 245/C dated

11.03.2011) is enclosed for needful.

Encl.- As above

PArEmAMSiltrimlIVIllem.i.MMArt70011.0m

Yours faithfully,

Principal Secretary

to Government


25/03/2011 07:41 06512401802 NREGA COMMISSIONER PAGE 03

From

Rahul Kumar Purwar,

Deputy Commissioner, Latehar

Ku'deep Dwivedi,

ce of Deputy Commissioner-cum- District

Superintendent of Police, Laenar

, .

To

Principal Secretary

Department of Home

lharkhand, Ranchi

Magistrate, Latehar (Jharkhand)

(Confidential Section)

Letter No- 2, 14 5/ c Latehar, Dated 11-03-2011

If ..2rt ry 1

Ot


-

Subject: Second joint report regNifterlurder. late Sh Niyamat Ansari.

Referencc-; Tels.,.phorlic• conversation with Principal Secretary, Department of Horne, .1harkhand, Ranchi

with respect to our field visit in Manika Block as on 10 th March, 2011.

Sir,

Under noted above subject regarding murder of late Sh Niyamat Ansari & our joint field visit to Kope &

ierua Villages of Manika Block as on 10 th March, 2011, a second joint report is being submitted for

necessary further reference.

First, we visited kope village where we observed that Food Grain Distribution Camp was going on.

Villagers belonging to category of BPL families were coming from various villages of Kope Panchayat &

collecting their food grains as per norms. In course of that, we had a chance to interact with Mukhia of

Kope Panchayat, Deputy Pramukh of Manika Block & villagers of Kope Panchayat. Villagerers were

telling their problems without any fear & peaceful manner. They raised problems mostly related to

drinking water & social security. Sub Divisional Officer, Latehar (Senior Officer in charge of Manika Block)

& Block Development Officer were directed to sort out their grievances in close coordination with newly

elected public representatives. They were further directed to start works related to soil & water

conservation measures in view of drought situation. Villagers showed their faith in administration &

assured to extend their full cooperation in developmental activities. Local police along with a contingent

of CRPF is camping there & keeping close watch in ongoing activities of villages of Kope Panchayat after


0E512401802 NREGA COMMISSIONER PAGE 04

the incident of murder of Late sh Niyamat Ansari. Overall, situation seemed to be peaceful but is

being kept Under close watch.

Later, we visited lerua village to meet the members of bereaved family of late Sh Niya mat Ansari. During

our visit to his house, we met his parents, father in law, brother, wife, sisters, niece

& his children in the

presence of Mukhia, Deputy Pramukh & villagers. His family was in grief & completely shattered after his

death. Dttrip urse of interaction,

it has come to our knowledge that he was the sole earner of the

entire faro . .• have covered his family with social security & relief network by providing old age

pension to his-father, widow pension to his wife, benefit of national family benefit scheme to his

widow wife. We have also directed the block functionaries for initiating proposal for compensation in

view of loss due to extremism. We have also assured the members of bereaved family for extending all

kinds of support to the possible extent.

As far as, the manika p. s. case no 20/11 dt 03-03-11 u/s 147/148/149/452/302 IPC and 17 CLA Act

related to FIR lodged in view of murder of Late Sh Niyamat Ansari is concerned, in which eight persons

are named accused. Of which, so far .one•person -Arun Singh has been .arrested &„sent to jail7 , And for

rest, a joint task force under leadership of Dy S.P. (hq) has been constituted to ensure their arresting

& to find out further details related to this case.

Further;C:P:I . (N1A0151") has taken the responsibility of the incident &a press release has been circulated

to the correspondents of the different newspapers

alleging his (Niyamat's) involvement in instigating

the villagers in destroying the forests & usurping the forest land. It is pertinent to mention here that

there are several cases including forest encroachment cases etc pending against him (tate Sh Niyamat).

The details of cases are as below:

a.

b.

Case no 30/08 at SDJM court u/s 147, 148, 149, 323, 379, 472, 504 of IPC related to

forgery & arson

Case No 9/09 u/s 447, 353, 540 IPC, 33/42 forest act related to destruction of forests In

this case, he was in jail.

c_ Manika P.s. No 33/09 u/s 143, 353 of IPC related to interference with government works

d. Seven forest cases 29/09, 89/09, 97/09, 104/09, 53/10, 70/08 & 79/08 related to

encroachment of 94 acre forest land (details of pending cases related to forest

encroachment as reported by DFO is being attached in

Annexure I)

The matter is being closely investigated keeping in view of all aspects till it could be concluded.

The second joint report is being submitted for your kind consideration & necessary action.

Regards.

Superintendent of Police, Latehar

Deputy Commissioner, Latehar


2E/03/2011 07:41 06512401802 NREGA COMMISSIONER PAGE 05

Memo No: 2. vs/ e ateci 11th March, 2011

Copy to: commissioner, Palamu Division, Medninagar/ D.I.G. Palamu Range, Daltongunj for kind

information, please.

Superintendent of Police, Latehar

Memo No: Z. klyeated 11 11' March, 2011

Deputy Commissioner, Latehar

Copy to: Princial Se tart', Rural Development Department, Jharkhand, Ranchi/ D.G.P., Jharkhand,

Ranchi/ A.D.G. Law & Order, Jharkhand, Ranchi for kind information, please.

Superintendent of Police, Latehar

OA

Deputy Commissioner, Latehar


2:/03/2011 07:41 06512401802 NREGA COMMISSIONER

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(From Down to Earth, 21 June 2008)

Headline : NREGA activists who paid with their lives: Lalit Mehta (Jharkhand)

A palm-sized CD has become the prized possession of Jagdish Mehta, the father of social activist Lalit

Mehta, who was brutally murdered in Kandra jungles of Palamu district in Jharkhand on May 14. His

eyes gleam as he holds the CD in his hands. It contains a record of a damning social audit of an

NREGS project in Chhatarpur block, and the old man hopes it may one day nail the culprits. "My son

died fighting corruption. He was brutally murdered. What can a father ask for except justice? We gave

him the best of education and Lalit utilized it to end poverty and corruption," he says, tears welling up

in his eyes.

A civil engineer by qualification, Lalit, 36, blew the lid off widespread corruption in NREGS in

Palamu.He had become a threat to the contractor lobby and corrupt government officials. Social audit

of NREGS he undertook under economist Jean Dreze's supervision was proving to be the final nail in

the coffin of the contractor lobby. But before that he was killed.

The Chhatarpur Police found his body at Kandaghati in Chhatarpur on May 15. His mutilated body

and a belt around his neck suggested he was strangled and his face smashed to deform it beyond

recognition. The police buried the body as unidentified the same day. It was later exhumed by his

colleagues and taken to his native village, where his last rites were performed.

"The police made no effort to identify him. It was heart-rending to imagine the murder and to witness

the way his body was humiliated. We identified Lalit by his slipper and shirt. That's the fate of social

activists here," says Manoj Kumar Singh, president of the Vikash Sahyog Kendra, an NGO that was

given the responsibility of carrying out social audit of NREGS in Palamu.

Lalit first thwarted corrupt contractors and government officials in 1990 by developing a software to

prevent overestimation of civil works under the Sukha Mukti Abhiyaan funded by the state

government. The software made it near-impossible for contractors and a section of government

officials to make money fraudulently. With the help of the community he built 125 check dams as part

of a long-term strategy to overcome droughts in the district.

As secretary of the Vikash Sahyog Kendra, Lalit led volunteers in Chhatarpur to verify muster rolls

and wage distribution among villagers. He came up with damaging facts about the Rs 5 lakh NREGS

project to build a pond in the block. These facts presented during the audit have been compiled in a

CD. It reveals that the project was bogus. During the audit it was found that the roster contained

names of 108 people but only eight of them were employed. Villagers' signatures on the payment

register were forged. Job cards were made in the name of 10 villagers who had migrated long ago. In

one case the card was issued in the name of a dead person.

Dreze was to join Lalit for another social audit in Daltonganj and it was in this connection that Lalit had

left Chhatarpur on the night of May 13, but did not reach there the next day. "We thought he might

have stayed back in Chhatarpur to complete pending work of the social audit. But a news item in a

Hindi newspaper about the recovery of an unidentified body in the jungle of Kandra rang alarm bells in

our head," say Manoj Singh and Jawahar Mehta, treasurers of the Vikash Sahyog Kendra.

Singh immediately called up Lalit on his cell phone. It was answered by an unknown person who tried

to convince him that he was Lalit. But when they called Lalit the second time, it was switched off. "We

rushed to the Kandra police station and our doubt was confirmed," Singh adds. But a leader like Lalit

is not easily forgotten. People in Palamu have formed a society to seek justice for him, the Vikash

Sahyog Kendra and Action Aid are demanding CBI inquiry into his death and Dreze conducted a

public hearing in Chhatarpur where details of social audit and the proof Lalit had gathered were made

public.

"Being a civil engineer he would have easily got a decent job in a good city. Lalit refused to leave

Palamu and had set himself a target that one day he will ensure that government-run schemes reach

the poor. He was a person of strong will and despite social pressure he married a tribal girl Ashrita

Tirkey," says Vyomkesh of Action Aid. Lalit is survived by his wife and two sons.


(1) Talab work in Kariliti (Khatauri GP): The contractor was Mahadev Rai.' He was

using a JCB machine at the worksite, and collected people's Job Cards (presumably to

prepare fake Muster Rolls), telling them that he would use the cards to get them

remuneration for their bamboo work. Kameshwar and Birju challenged him and got

the Job Cards returned to the cardholders. There was some hathapai (scuffle), and Rai

told Kameshwar not to interfere or face the consequences. This happened about three

months ago.

(2) Talab work in Kisgo (Jamkhokharo GP): The contractor wa Kedar Modi. When

labourers asked for an abhikarta to be selected, Modi started using machines to finish

the work. Kameshwar opposed this. This happened about 6 months ago.

(3) Checkdam in Kisgo: The contractor there was also Kedar Modi. He shoed away local

labourers to use machines and outside labourers. Kameshwar helped the labourers to

oppose this. This happened last year. 2

(4) Road construction at Kari village, Khatauri GP: The contractors are Mahadev Rai and

Naika Manjhi. They also sidelined local labourers and started employing outside

labourers and machines. They tried to collect people's Job Cards and prepare fake

Muster Rolls. Kameshwar and his comrades intervened. This happened last year.

(5) Checkdam in Khatauri GP: The contractors were Ram Naresh Yadav and Baldev

Yaday. They started using JCB machines. Kameshwar opposed this. There was a

dispute, and possibly a scuffle. This happened last year.

(The very quick verifications we were able to do that day indicate that these incidents did

happen, though the extent of Kameshwar's personal involvement in them was not clear in

some cases.)

Related activities

Kameshwar and his comrades were also involved in related issues, such as the Public

Distribution System (PDS). He had caught Ram Naresh Yadav and Baldev Yadav, the local

PDS dealers, selling iodised salt (and possibly also kerosene) in the black market, and alerted

the media. This happened about three months ago.

Ram Naresh Yadav and Baldev Yadav: Prime suspects?

Ram Naresh Yadav and Baldev Yadav are brothers. They clashed with Kameshwar both as

contractors of the checkdam in Khatauri, and as PDS dealers (see above). Nageshwar, who

insisted on taking Kameshwar to the market on 7 June, is Baldev's son. Further, there seems

We met Mahadev Rai later that day and he claimed that the contractors for this talab were Naveen

Murmu and Triveni Rai (though he admitted being a contractor on other NREGA works).

2 According to women in Kisgo, Modi actually turned away 20-25 women labourers who belonged to

Liberation, saying that they wouldn't work properly, and employed other local labour as well as

machines. The machines were used at night, for 4-5 nights. At one point, Kedar Modi and Kishor

Gupta beat up these women, even using implements or stones. When this happened, the women were

accompanied by Birju, Dhiraj, Bashir and Rupesh Singh, all Liberation workers. (Based on

testimonies from Khemia, Punia, Kaushaliya, Dukha, Rita, Shanti, Chameli and Pramila in Kisgo.)

2


to be a land dispute between the two families. Kameshwar's family is convinced that Ram

Naresh Yadav and Baldev Yadav are responsible for the murder. They feel that NREGA was

one of the issues on which the two families had clashed.

The clash with Ramakant Dubey

Kameshwar was also involved in a major clash with Ramakant Dubey, Executive Engineer.

According to the local Liberation activists, Dubey is a very corrupt man who made a lot of

money by sanctioning more than 100 checkdams in Giridih District (most of these

checkdams, they claimed, were useless and their main purpose was to allow corrupt officials

to embezzle NREGA funds). Kameshwar himself was implementing one of the checkdam

works, located in Khatauri (there was a formal agreement for this checkdam and he was the

sachiv). It was worth Rs 12 lakhs. When the last instalment came up, Dubey asked for a 40%

commission, and Kameshwar refused. He was also involved in an (unsuccessful) attempt to

bring Dubey to book through official enquiries. This happened about a year ago.

The family hinted that there was a link between this incident and the dispute with Ram

Naresh and Baldev, but it was not clear what the link exactly was.

Assessment

Even from this brief visit, it was clear that a sinister nexus of corruption and violence

surrounded NREGA in the area, much as we had also found in Palamau and Koderma. If the

local reports of widespread use of labour-displacing machines at NREGA worksites are

correct (we were unable to verify them, for lack of time), this would be one of the worst

violations of the Act we have come across so far. It is also clear that Kameshwar Yadav and

his comrades have courageously opposed these and other violations of people's rights under

the Act, and that they often antagonised this criminal lobby in the process. Even if the murder

is also related to an earlier dispute with Ram Naresh Yadav and Baldev Yadav, Kameshwar's

work on NREGA certainly appears to have escalated this dispute and played a major part in

its tragic outcome. Given these indications of a close connection between Kameshwar's

murder and his courageous work on NREGA, there is every reason to treat this incident with

the same seriousness as Lalit Mehta's murder in Palamau.

Jean Dreze and Reetika Khera

3


Who killed Lalit Mehta and Kameshwar Yadav?

(From Hardnews, July 2008)

The widespread corruption in the flagship scheme of the UPA government, NREGA, is hidden from none. Social

audits conducted by civil society groups and individuals have proved the existence of corrupt practices being

followed by the district administration of various states. These social audits are threatening the people who have

been brazenly siphoning off funds from public schemes for decades. Consequently, this public accountability in

grassroots democracy is turning out to be dangerous for those directly involved in exposing irregularities in the

scheme. That is, those who want the NREGA to be a success.

On May 15, a mutilated body (eyes gouged out and face smashed) was found near the Kanda forest in Palamu

district of Jharkhand. The body was that of Lalit Mehta, secretary of Vikas Sahyog Kendra, an NGO that has

been actively working on the right to food and NREGA schemes. He blew the whistle on widespread corruption in

the scheme in Palamu.

Lalit Mehta was last seen on May 14 with Jean Dreze, well known economist, former member of the National

Advisory Council headed by Sonia Gandhi, and one of the architects of NREGA. He was seen in the small town

of Daltoganj. He left in the evening for Chatarpur in Jharkhand. His dead body was later recovered by the

adjoining Bishrampur Police Station.

Some people who live near the spot saw a man being beaten by a group. One man in Silda village went to check

his well at night since he thought that the body might have been dumped there. No arrests have been made till

date. Instead, the district administration has implicated Jean Dreze in its report, Activists claim that this is a

brazen attempt to protect the criminals.

The report mentions that Robert, Lalit's brother-in-law, was aggressive and violent and always opposed his

marriage with his sister. The report states that the other motive of the murder could have been the huge money

transactions that took place at Vikas Sahyog Kendra. "This is totally baseless as it has been 10 years since Lalit

has been married. So the Robert angle never arises. As far as money is concerned, Lalit has not paid his rent for

months, his LIC policy has expired and his bank account has only Rs 800," says Jawahar Mehta, an activist who

worked closely with the activist.

"The report shows that the police have made no serious enquiries into Lalit Mehta's murder. It does not provide

any credible clue to this murder, but raises a number of mischievous conjectures using selective evidence. For

instance, the report refers to interviews with Lalit Mehta's brother and his sons, without mentioning that the sons

are one and three years old. respectively. Meanwhile, evidence from extensive interviews with Lalit's wife,

Ashrita, is ignored. Further, the report is full of factual mistakes.

Even the date of the murder is incorrect: Lalit Mehta was murdered on May 14, not on May 15, as stated in the

report," said Aruna Roy, Arundhati Roy, Prabhash Joshi, Harsh Mander, among other eminent activists, writers

and journalists, in a statement.

Locals in Jharkhand complain of an entrenched nexus of politicians, contractors and district officials. They believe

that Lalit was murdered so that no one would dare to enter these areas to conduct a social audit. Jean Dreze and

Balram (NREGA advisor to the food commissioner appointed by the Supreme Court of India) in a joint statement

said, "If this murder was an act to intimidation, it did not succeed. Friends and supporters from all over Jharkhand

gathered at Vikas Sahyog Kendra and unanimously resolved to continue the campaign against corruption and

exploitation in the area."

After facing pressure from various quarters, the state government, after more than a month of the murder,

ordered a CBI probe. But the case has not yet reached the Public Grievances Cell which will take a call on it and


(From Hardnews, July 2008)

then pass it on to the Central Vigilance Committee, which will then forward it to the CBI. Then, its up to the CBI to

take the case.

The high profile Arushi murder case was taken over by an 'active CBI' in 24 hours after the UP government's

request, but no one knows how much time the CBI would take in Jharkhand. The case has been transferred to

the CBI, but the local CID is reportedly still interfering. Said NBA's Medha Patkar: "They must get to the bottom of

the case. This is not only the responsibility of the Jharkhand government, but also that of the Centre. This is a

central scheme."

However, in Jharkhand, the circle of murders continues. Kameshwar Yadav, a prominent NREGA activist of

Khatauri village, Deori Block in Giridih district, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in June 7. Yadav was a

member of the CPI-ML (Liberation), an overground organisation working with the poor. He was involved in

exposing the corrupt role of contractors and middlemen. He relentlessly highlighted irregularities in the NREGS

and mobilised landless labourers and job-seekers for implementation of the scheme. The district administration

has arrested two individuals, but the case has not been cracked.

The Congress-RJD backed coalition in Jharkhand seems rather non-committal, even while NREGA is the UPA's

baby. Tek Lal Mahto, JMM MP in Giridh, told : "I am not aware of any of these murders as I am not involved in

any of the NREGA work. I am aware of the high level corruption among senior government officials in my

constituency. I have also raised this issue in Parliament."

In recent past, several such incidents have occurred in different parts of the country where social audits are being

conducted. Members of these teams are warned, physically threatened, provoked and sometimes brutally beaten

up. Recalling the violence in Jhalawar, Rajasthan, Aruna Roy, member of the Centre's Employment Guarantee

Council, said, "When we went to do social audit in Jhalawar, we were chased away. Someone even tied a noose

around the neck of one of the women. If a little force would have been used, she too would have died."


COMMENTARY

NREGA and the Death of

Tapas Soren

ANISH VANAIK

Tapas Soren, a tribal of Birakhap

in Jharkhand, committed

self-immolation recently,

impoverished by the constant

demand for bribes by local

officials for work done under

the National Rural Employment

Guarantee Act. His death soon

after the murder of Lalit Mehta

who had exposed corruption in

NREGA schemes in Palamu is a

damning comment on how the

scheme is being implemented in

Jharkhand.

Anish Vanaik (anish.vanaik@gmail.com ) is

involved in field surveys of the NREGA

initiated by the G B Pant Social Science

Institute, Allahabad.

0 n

the morning of July 2, 2008,

Tapas Soren set himself ablaze at

Charhi Chowk in Hazaribagh.'

Just before taking this ultimately fatal

step he was heard shouting "aur anyay

nahi sahenge" (I will not tolerate any

more injustice). 2 Only a couple of hours

before these events, Soren had met the

block development officer (Imo) of

Churchu and the panchayat sevak of his

gram panchayat to discuss matters

relating to a 20 ft well that was being

constructed on his land under the

National Rural Employment Guarantee

Act (NREGA). That the NREGA, designed

to benefit people like Tapas, could

be the precipitant of such a calamity

speaks of a particularly grave state of

affairs with respect to its implementation

in Jharkhand.

Hazaribagh was among the first batch

of districts where the NREGA was implemented.

This means that it has been operative

for almost three years. Birakhap

(where Tapas lived) is exactly the kind of

village where it was envisioned as having

the greatest impact. Dilip, Tapas' elder

brother described the struggles involved

in making ends meet in Birakhap. The

family owns and works a total of 4.54

acres of land. The single crop that they

are able to produce in the year enables

them to run their households for

around four months. The rest of the year

they are forced to look for employment

elsewhere. This is a difficult task.

Birakhap has no road: a river must be

crossed to reach one. The search for work

often led Dilip and Tapas far from home

to where it was available — on roads or

with contractors in the region. Just as

often, employment was not available at

all. NREGA would seem tailor-made for

Tapas, Dilip and others in their village. To

be assured of work at decent wages near

home would be a combination that

seemed wonderful to the point of being

an illusion.

An Insidious Pattern

That is because for the most part it is an

illusion. Employment generation in Hazaribagh

has been quite low. In 2007-08,

the average employment generated for the

1.23 lakh households that demanded work

was only around 34 days.3 This year, until

June, only 31,658 households have been

provided with employment. 4 These macro

statistics also find reflection in Tapas'

story. Dilip pointed out that NREGA works

had only opened in December and

January and no new ones were taken

up in the summer, when work is most

acutely needed.

Even when employment was offered,

there were delays in wage payments.

Against the legal stipulation of payment

within 15 days, funds for payment of

wages were often released only 4o to 5o

days after works had been completed. 5

This means that when alternative employment

was available, workers would choose

to leave an NREGA worksite for immediate

wages. At Tapas' own well, work had been

going on for almost three months,

although, given the delays in release of

funds to Tapas, there was rarely a week in

which work would be carried out for more

than three or four days at a stretch. Dilip

remarked that workers would simply leave

work on the well for other kind of employment

if it was available in the area.

While delays in wage payments and

the low volume of works might simply be

put down to bureaucratic slowness, the

pattern in which works were taken up

suggests something far more insidious.

Jemma Mendis, an activist of the

Chhotanagpur Adivasi Seva Samiti which

works in the area, points out that in the

four tribal hamlets of Sarabaha revenue

village only two pond excavation works

and the well on Tapas' field had ever been

sanctioned. In the one predominantly

non-tribal hamlet, no less than 26 wells

had been sanctioned. The reason for this

stark contrast, she explained, was that

there is a system of kickbacks running all

the way up the administrative hierarchy.

The standard price for having a well

8 JULY 26, 2008 IMO Economic & Political WEEKLY


sanctioned on one's land is Rs io,000.

Tapas against the judgment of his advisers

had paid that much and more. Mendis

points out that this kind of system simply

eliminates the poor from this scheme.

Those with some capital of their own can

afford to get works sanctioned on their

land, and even pay labourers something

on a weekly basis while waiting for the

administration to release funds (such

weekly payments are typically less than

the stipulated minimum wage, the difference

is usually pocketed by those who

have "advanced" money).

Empty Promises, Greased Palms

These were the forces that trapped Tapas

Soren. He lived in a hamlet that was remote

and backward; one which was seen by officials

like the panchayat sevak and BDO as

susceptible to exploitation on a regular

basis: be it the public distribution system

(PDs), electricity supply, or the NREGA. As

Dilip put it, it was a place where politicians

promised much, but little was ever

delivered without greasing a palm. This

was the "anyay" that Tapas was protesting

against. Tapas had come up against such

"anyay" and felt its humiliating sting often.

The well was a source of hope that

irrigation in their field might slowly raise

the yield and improve life somewhat.

After paying Rs 15,000 in bribes, Tapas

had little money to keep its construction

going smoothly. He was entirely dependent

upon the Rs 1,63,o00, that had been sanctioned

for the costs of the well and was

being deposited piecemeal according to

the whims of the authorities.° He had withdrawn

money amounting to Rs 7o,000 on

three occasions to pay labourers, but could

not avoid delays. Faced with these delays,

the io labourers working on the well —

including Dilip and Tapas — were reluctant

to commit more than the time that they

could take off from other work. And when

they struck rock in the course of digging,

work came to a near standstill.

Jemma Mendis says Tapas was caught

between three forces. On the one hand

COMMENTARY

were the labourers — his neighbours and

relatives — who had not been paid and

were unable to break through the rocky

earth. On the other stood the BDO and

authorities who held Tapas responsible for

not being able to complete the project. The

triangle of pressures was completed by

their demand for a steady stream of kickbacks.

On July i, expecting the final instalment

of the money to pay labourers, Tapas

went to the bank where he was told that

there was no money in the account — it had

been deposited and withdrawn entirely

without his knowledge. Dilip says that

Tapas was distraught and had gone to

discuss this with the panchayat sevak

and BDO on the morning of July 2. What

transpired there is not known. What is

known is that he returned from the meeting

when the rest of the family was working

in the field, took a bottle of kerosene

and proceeded to Charhi Chowk, setting

in motion the course of events that would

lead to his death in a hospital bed six

painful days later.

INDIAN INSTITUTE OF ADVANCED STUDY

Rashtrapati Nivas, Shimla 171005

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COMMENTARY

If the murder of Lalit Mehta in Chhattarpur

laid bare the brutal consequences

of the contractor-bureaucracy-politician

nexus that has sprung up around the

NREGA in Jharkhand, Tapas Soren's fate

reveals a different consequence of the

same fact. The state of corruption seems

institutionalised and regularised — with

its coordinates of 5 per cent here and 7 per

cent there. In stark contrast is every provision

of the act designed to empower workers

and the rural poor — the ability to

demand work, the capacity to decide

which works get sanctioned in what order,

the right to receive wages on time, the disbursal

of wages in a public and transparent

fashion, the right to inspect the

documents relating to the NREGA, and

others. These are forced to languish as is

the promise of genuine, participatory

change that they hold out. In such a system

`anyay' will inevitably be an everyday

experience, one that will seek out and

drain those among the poor who dare to

try and make the NREGA work for themselves

— as Tapas did.

Dilip Soren hopes that provision will be

made by the state government for adequate

compensation to Tapas' two children

and a job will be provided to his

widow Dasmitudu. But he is also determined

that part of the outcome of this

tragedy should be speedy development of

the village and that those responsible for

this state of affairs be brought to book.

Apart from the government enquiry

which has been instituted, perhaps the

first step towards this can be the social

audit that Chhotanagpur Adivasi Seva

Samiti plans to conduct. After all, if the

crisis is a result of the determination to

ensure that the participatory elements of

the act break down, it is only an equally

strong determination to ensure that they

are made operational that will in the long

run be the cure.

NOTES

The following account, except where otherwise

indicated, is based on conversations with Dilip

Soren, the brother of Tapas Soren, and Jemma

Mendis, an activist of the Chhotanagpur Adivasi

Seva Samiti, at the All India Institute of Medical

Sciences in Delhi soon after Tapas Soren died at

Safdarjang Hospital on July 8.

2 A video, which includes testimony taken from

Tapas Soren when he was conscious soon after he

was brought into hospital, is available at http://

youtube.com/watch?v=thhLuJScu.E. On the

video, despite the visibly painful burns, he

recounts some of the circumstances of his action

and repeatedly affirms that people should not tol-

erate injustice any more.

3 All statistics relating to employment generation

in Hazaribagh are taken from the implementation

status reports provided online by the ministry of

rural development. http://nrega.nicin/writereaddata/mpr_out/MPRimpl_34_99_0708.html;

42.34 lakh person days were generated for the

1.23 lakh households.

4 http://nrega.nic.in/writereaddata/mpr_out/

empgen_new1_34_99_o8o9.html

s This was mentioned by both Dilip Soren and

Jemma Mendis,

6 All the figures relating to Tapas' financial transactions

were provided by Dilip Soren.

[Readers can post their comments on this article

in the blog section of the EPW web site. The blog

will be open until August 5.]

10 JULY 26. 2008 MEI Economic & Political WEEKLY


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Another Rural Activist Killed in Jharkhand

(From Liberation, Nov 2008)

After Lalit Mehta and Kameshwar Yadav, now yet another rural activist Rajeshwar Das of

Deoghar, Jharkhand has been killed. Comrade Rajeshwar of Baghmari village, Mohanpur

Block of Deoghar, was an agricultural labourer, and had been a party member of the

CPI(ML) since 2005. He was known in the village for being outspoken against corruption

and malpractice wherever he observed it. He had been the treasurer of the Gram Vikas Samiti

(Village Development Committee) of his village, and the President of the same committee,

Rita Devi, also belonged to CPI(ML). The local BSP people were incensed that CPI(ML) was

able to have effective control over the Samiti. Recently, 92 people whose homes were

destroyed by severe rains were supposed to receive compensation, but there was much

corruption in the disbursal of the funds. Rajeshwar exposed the role of brokers and openly

challenged the corruption. In the last six months, many crores of rupees had come to the

panchayat for development schemes; but local labourers were not being employed, and

labourers were being underpaid. Rajeshwar had been vocal on these and other issues like

NREGA implementation. He had therefore earned the ire of local contractors, who are close

to the BSP. At noon on October 8, he was attacked by assailants with an axe and killed, and

his wife who tried to save him lost several fingers off her hand (she is now undergoing

treatment). Rajeshwar is survived by his wife, three daughters and one son, and he had been

the sole breadwinner. The local party branch is collecting funds for food and medical care for

the bereaved family.


(From The Telegraph, Dec 2008)

Ranchi, Dec. 1: CPI-ML today demanded the arrest of the goons who killed activist

Rajeswar Das in a Deoghar village in October. Rajeswar was allegedly killed because he had

protested against the malpractices in implementing National Rural Employment Guarantee

Act (NREGA).

Rajeswar of Baghmari village of Mohanpur block was allegedly killed by Naresh Das and

Panchanan Das. Even Rajeswar's 12-year-old daughter Ganita, who was here to take part at a

public hearing, said that his father had been killed by people who were involved in NREGA

malpractice.

"They told my mother that they would give 15 decimal of land and Rs 50,000 if we withdrew

the names of two persons from the FIR," said Ganita, a Class VI student, at the public

hearing.

Ganita said that his father had been killed in October by the duo involved in the malpractice

of NREGA works in Baghmara.

She said that her father had protested when people from other places were brought and

employed in road construction under the job scheme.

CPI-ML members also alleged that the police were trying to save the criminals, who had been

roaming free.

They also complained that the police were trying to dilute the case. Dipankar Bhattacharya,

the party's general secretary, said that chief minister Shibu Soren had failed to control the

corruption in NREGA works.

"Those involved in the murder of Rajeswar should be arrested as soon as possible and

awarded the highest punishment to restore the rule of law," Bhattacharya said.

Earlier, two others — Kameshwar Yadav and Lalit Mehta — were also killed allegedly by

persons involved in corrupt practices in NREGA works. Lalit had been a close associate of

economist Jean Dreze, one of the few who shaped the rural job scheme since its inception. In

Palamau district, he had been a whistle-blower to the corruption that had hindered the success

of the NREGA.

The two-day public hearing, which began today, would deal with several other issues on

various subjects, including displacement, public distribution system and other beneficiary

schemes apart from NREGA. CPI-ML workers from various places across the state have

gathered here to take part in the programme.

Bhattacharya also said that the party would protest any fresh bid by industrial houses to

displace villagers. "Several families who have been displaced by various projects, especially

public sector projects, are yet to be rehabilitated properly.

Their rehabilitation should be first ensured before any fresh bid for land acquisition," he

demanded.


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To: Director General of Police (DGP)

Ranchi, Jharkhand

Dear Sir,

Complaint: Malicious FIR lodged in Manika

9 February 2009

We are writing to lodge a complaint against the lodging of a false and malicious FIR in Manika Thana

(Latehar District) against residents of Jerua and Kope Gram Panchayats. According to media reports,

this FIR was lodged by the Forest Department a few days ago. It accuses residents of Jerua and Kope,

including Bhukhan Singh and Niyamat Ansari, of "janlewa hamla" (life-threatening attack) against

officials of the Forest Department who were visiting the village on 3 February. (We have no further

details of the FIR, as the local thana refused to give a copy of it to the persons concerned.)

The malicious character of this FIR is evident from the fact that Bhukhan Singh and Niyamat Ansari

were not there on 3 February. They were in Latehar (and later Manika), with members of our team — the

team we have formed to prepare for the Lok Adalat held in Latehar on 7 February. More precisely, they

were with Sunil Kumar, Kartika Bhatia and Siddhartha. The attached testimony from Sunil Kumar gives

further details of their whereabouts at different times on 3 February. There is absolutely not possibility

of Bhukhan Singh and Niyamat Ansari being in two different places at the same time on 3 February!

There have been earlier cases of harassment of Bhukhan Singh and Niyamat Ansari and even an attempt

to murder Niyamat Ansari on 16 October 2008. This harassment appears to be a response to their work

for better implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA). Both of them

are poor, vulnerable people who have no means of defending themselves against powerful vested

interests.

We brought this matter to the attention of the Superintendent of Police (SP) Latehar on 6 February, who

said that an enquiry would be conducted on 8 February by the DSP. However, this enquiry is yet to take

place. In any case, we are very apprehensive about such "enquiries" and we find it hard to trust the local

police to conduct it in an impartial manner.

We appeal to you to recognise the malicious character of this FIR and close the case. If an enquiry is

required, please ensure that it is conducted in an impartial manner and that the enclosed testimony is on

record. We look forward to hearing from you.

Jean Dreze (Dr.) Reetika Khera (Dr.)

(Visiting Professor, Allahabad University and Research Associate, G.B. Pant Social

Member, Central Employment Guarantee Council) Science Institute, Allahabad University

cc Superintendent of Police, Latehar

People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL)


Repression against NREGA activists in Latehar

On the sidelines of the recent Lok Adalat held in Latehar, aimed at securing justice for NREGA

workers, vested interests were vitiating the process. For instance, false rumours were spread to the effect

that any Job Card holder could apply for the unemployment allowance, even without applying for work

in the first place. Application forms to make this misguided claim were sold for up to Rs 10 per form in

shops across the district.

There have also been cases of harassment of NREGA activists. Bhukhan Singh and Niyamat Ansari,

residents of Jerua Gram Panchayat in Manika Block, were startled to read in the newspapers on 6

February that an FIR had been lodged against them and others in Manika Thana. This FIR alleges that

Bhukhan, Niyamat and others were guilty of violently driving away (and even attempting to murder)

Forest Department officials who had come to Jerua for some plantation work on 3 February. The

malicious nature of this FIR is evident from the fact that Bhukhan and Niyamat were not there on 3

February: they were in Latehar (and later Manika), as part of a team of volunteers who were helping

with preparations for the Lok Adalat.

Further details are given in the attached testimony from Sunil Kumar, another member of the team, who

was with Bhukan and Niyamat on 3 February. A formal complaint was submitted on 10 February to the

Director General of Police, who promised to ensure that no innocent person is victimized. People's

Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) has agreed to fight the case if it comes to court.

We view this instance of harassment as a deliberate attempt on the part of vested interests to deprive

rural people from their rights under NREGA and we stand in solidarity with all those who are struggling

for people's right to work.

Jean Dreze

(Member, Central Employment

Guarantee Council)

11 February 2009

Gurjeet Singh

(Convener, NREGA Watch)


The chairperson

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)

New Delhi

29 March 2011

Complaint: Murders, suicides and arrests of NREGA activists in Jharkhand

Dear Sir/Madam,

We are writing to alert you to a spate of murders, suicides and arrests of NREGA activists in

Jharkhand during the last few months. These include:

1. Murder of Lal it Mehta (Palamau District) on 14 May 2008.

2. Murder of Kameshwar Yadav (Giridih District) on 7 June 2008.

3. Suicide of Tapas Soren (Hazaribagh District) on 2 July 2008.

4. Suicide of Shivshankar Sahu (Palamau District) on 17 August 2008.

5. Murder of Rajeshwar Das (Deoghar District) on 8 October 2008.

6. Arrest of Bhukhan Singh and Niyamat Ansari (Latehar District) on 15 February 2009.

Further details of these six cases are given in the Annexures. This is a partial list — there have

been other cases also. All of them have involved serious human rights violations. We request

you to conduct an enquiry into this matter and take action.

Yours sincerely,

Jean Dreze

(Central Employment

Guarantee Council)

Kavita Srivastava

(People's Union for

Civil Liberties)

Annexure 1: Down to Earth report on Lalit Mehta, June 2008.

Annexure 2: Note on Kameshwar Yadav's murder, June 2008.

Annexure 3: Hardnews report on Lalit Mehta and Kameshwar Yadav, July 2008.

Annexure 4: EPW report on Tapas Soren, July 2008 (see also www.youtube.com ).

Annexure 5: Report on Shivshankar's suicide, James Herenj, September 2008.

Annexure 6: Report on Bhukhan and Niyamat, James Herenj, October 2008.

Annexure 7: Liberation report on Rajeshwar Das, November 2008.

Annexure 8: Telegraph report on Rajeswar Das, December 2008.

Annexure 9: Bhukhan and Niyamat's complaint to NHRC, February 2009.


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