Monday, December 28, 2009

Bihar cops thrash Jamia professor, brand him ‘Naxal’

Bihar Times

Patna,(BiharTimes): The Bihar Police have done it again. On December 22 it brutally thrashed the Associate Professor of Jamia Millia Islamia, Rahul Ramagundam, in trouble-torn Amausi block of Khagaria district. Not only that he was abused and branded a Naxalite by them for daring to ask the police as to why the hutments belonging to Musahars were being demolished.

Ramagundam teaches at Dr K R Narayanan Centre for Dalit and Minorities Studies at JMI. His local companion was also manhandled and beaten up by lathi-wielding police constables and officers.

“How could asking just one question lead to such physical violence? How can one be called a Naxalite and assaulted and humiliated like this,” d Ramagundam asked while talking to the Times of India.

It was in a village under Amausi block that 16 villagers, mostly Kurmis, were killed allegedly by Musahars late on October 1 night. The village has some 300 Musahar families who live in thatched huts. Land dispute with Kurmis led to this massacre.

“On December 22, I rode pillion on the motorbike of Varun Choudhry, a grassroots activist with Khagaria-based NGO Samta, to go to Amausi. When we reached, the village was in turmoil. The cops were breaking thatched houses of people who were said to be absconding. Shankar Sada, whom
Varun met in the village, took us to the place where the police party had camped before taking up the rip-and-strip job,” Ramagundam told the daily.

“Just as we spoke, a police party arrived and pulled down the thatched roof and walls of a hut. I couldn’t control myself. I asked the cops if they had any written orders to pull down the houses of the absconding accused.

“A tall uniformed man stared at me. Instead of answering, he asked me my identity. I teach in Delhi, I told him. ‘Name?’ I told him. ‘Father’s name?’ I told him. But even before I could take out my identity card, he turned hostile. By then, I was surrounded by the rest of the cops. They roughed me up and thrashed my colleague, Varun, who suffered a fracture,” Ramagundam was quoted in the daily.

“They had guns. A constable in green fatigues called me a Naxalite and moved menacingly to break the cordon around me,” he said.

Ramagundam met Khagaria SP Anusya Rannsingh Sodhi and then lodged a complaint asking whether people had the right to ask police for written orders before dismantling houses of the “poorest of the poor.”

The Khagaria SP said she would conduct an inquiry and take appropriate action. She added that she would not take action against anyone merely on the basis of Ramagundam’s statement.

Ramagundam is author of two books, Defeated Innocence on the Adivasi struggle for land rights in Madhya Pradesh in 2001 and Gandhi’s Khadi: A History of Contention and Conciliation.

No comments: