Jharkhand Election Commissioner refuses to meet Adivasis, activists

On Tuesday, April 2, 2019, the Jharkhand Chief Electoral Officer refused to meet representatives of Adhivasi Adhikar Manch and Khunti villages after he had given them time

Jharkhand Election Commissioner refuses to meet Adivasis, activists

NH Web Desk

It does seem like the BJP-led Jharkhand is turning into an inaccessible police state. First they arrested economist and social activist Jean Dreze for holding a meeting on ‘Right to Food’. Then, on Tuesday, April 2, 2019, the Jharkhand Chief Electoral Officer refused to meet representatives of Adhivasi Adhikar Manch and Khunti villages after he had given them time.

A delegation of Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahsabha, along with representatives of Adhivasi Adhikar Manch, WSS and Khunti villages, went to meet the Jharkhand Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) on Tuesday to discuss the severe repression and widespread violations of human rights by local administration and security forces in villages of Khunti that saw Pathalgadi in the last few years.

The CEO's office had given the delegation an appointment for 3 pm but the CEO made the team wait for almost three hours. He was not in office for a long time and when he did come back, he made people wait for more time even though he had seen that the delegation was waiting outside. His personal secretary had also informed him that they were waiting. And finally the delegation submitted the memorandum in his office and left without meeting him.

The delegation, which included rights activist Fr Stan Swamy, discussed the attempts by local administration and police, across the state, to dissuade people to discuss their issues under the pretext of Model Code of Conduct. “The growing practice of routinely applying section 144 as soon as Model Code of Conduct comes into force and using to stop non-political discussions on people’s issues is worrying,” said the activists.

Jharkhand Election Commissioner refuses to meet Adivasis, activists

The delegation made the following demands:

  • Deployment of special independent observers for monitoring elections in Khunti Lok Sabha constituency to ensure free and fair voting
  • No arrests to be made on the frivolous FIRs, filed in Khunti, during the elections.
  • An end to the repression by the security forces and administration to ensure that villagers who have been terrorised away from their homes are able to come back to freely exercise their franchise in the forthcoming election
  • Removal of police camps from the schools to allayfear amongst people and making the atmosphere conducive to a fair election.

District administration to be instructed not to misinform people regarding Model Code of Conduct and not to use section 144 at all. Districts and blocks that have applied section 144 as a continuum of the Model Code of Conduct should be instructed to withdraw it immediately.

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