Gandhian and peace activist Himanshu Kumar refuses to pay fine imposed by Supreme Court
Paying the fine would amount to an admission of guilt, says the activist while adding that in any case, he does not have even five thousand Rupees with him, leave alone five lakhs
Reacting to the Supreme Court imposing a fine of five lakh rupees, Gandhian activist Himanshu Kumar wrote on his Facebook wall that while he did not have even five thousand rupees, he would not pay the fine even if he had the amount. “Paying the fine would mean admitting that I made a mistake. But I admit to no such thing,” he declared.
Would it amount to contempt of court? Will the Supreme Court sentence him to prison for defying its order? While this will be known in the next few weeks or months, the outspoken Gandhian has been busy writing his version.
“How did the Supreme Court conclude that I had levelled false accusations against the police? Did it conduct any inquiry?” he asks defiantly before acknowledging that it was a matter of time before he gets arrested. He recalls that the British magistrate in Champaran had also offered to enlarge Mahatma Gandhi on bail if he paid a fine of one hundred rupees but Gandhiji had refused to pay the amount.
For those who have not followed the case, Himanshu Kumar had petitioned the Supreme Court in 2009 for an inquiry against killing of Adivasis by Chhattisgarh Police. Gujarat ‘riots’ and ‘caste’ out, ‘Emergency’ in Deletions and distortions introduced in NCERT textbooks, ostensibly due to the pandemic and the NEP, leave many questions unanswered
Thirteen years later the petition was heard and the Bench on July 14 dismissed the petition, fined Kumar for levelling false accusations and instructed Chhattisgarh Government to prosecute him and investigate his links with Maoists. The ruling followed after Police produced statements by villagers refuting the allegations.
Kumar believes the ruling will effectively silence voices like his which question the ‘loot’ of natural resources by corporate cronies of the government and continued exploitation of the adivasis. Although Kumar himself had to flee from Chhattisgarh in 2010 and he has been living in Hyderabad since then, he has been vocal about tribal issues.
Kumar recalls that the petition was filed by 12 Adivasis along with him. He claims that six of the petitioners had been abducted by the police and coerced into giving the statement at Tees Hazari court in Delhi that they could not identify the killers. But a video made by journalists present during the abduction, would call the bluff. The Supreme Court had been informed of the video evidence shot on January 5, 2010, he adds.
“The Supreme Court has claimed that I filed the case to help the Maoists. But I fail to understand how Maoists would have gained if the court had given relief to Adivasis. And what will the nation gain by fining me and denying justice to the Adivasis,” he wonders aloud.
As many as 16 villagers had been killed in 2009 at Gompar village in Sukma. The victims included women, the elderly and even children.
This was the period when the Chhattisgarh Government had armed vigilante groups and pitted them against Maoists and villagers. The ‘Salwa Judum’ campaign was eventually declared unlawful by the Supreme Court.
Pointing out that he had filed not one but 519 petitions, many or most of them against the police, Kumar claims that not even one case was found to have been fabricated.
The National Human Rights Commission upheld his petition against the encounter killing of 19 Adivasis including four women at Singaram village. Following another of his petitions, an SHO and two constables were jailed after the Commission found to be correct the allegation that they had killed three Adivasis after gouging out their eyes.
He also points to the operation by the CRPF in 2012 at Sarkeguda when 70 tribals were killed. While the CRPF claimed they were Maoists and were finalising plans to attack CRPF camps, a judicial inquiry eventually found the claim to be incorrect. The adivasis had gathered to discuss preparations for a festival. In yet another incident seven Adivasis were killed in 2013 and it turned out to be a fake encounter.
“I had petitioned against rape of Adivasi women by security forces. The NHRC found at least 16 women had confirmed rape. Adivasi teacher Soni Sori was implicated in seven false cases in 20111 and eventually she was acquitted in all of them,” Kumar goes on to cite.
He had also alleged in a petition that several women were there in Chhattisgarh prisons who were first sexually exploited after giving them electric shocks and then then implicated in false cases and remanded to jail. His allegation was supported by an Adivasi deputy Jailor Varsha Dongre. Following her statement she was suspended but the Government had to finally reinstate her.
When all my complaints were found to be true, how can the Supreme Court call me a liar, asks Kumar. On a later date he posted that his family was supportive of his decision to rather go to jail than pay the fine.
The hurt and defiant Gandhian has posted several videos as proof of police atrocities in Bastar. He would like to be imprisoned in Bastar Jail and spend his last days with tribals who have been lodged there after being labelled as Maoists.
(This was first published in National Herald on Sunday)