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Jharkhand, India: A nexus between the Maoists and corrupt contractors involved in the loot of NREGA funds?

Justice For Niymat Ansari

11 March 2011

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We condemn in the strongest possible terms the recent murder of NREGA
activist Niyamat Ansari in Kope Gram Panchayat (Latehar District,
Jharkhand), as well as the attempted murder of his associate Bhukhan
Singh.

The facts of the case are summarised in the attached note, to set the
record straight. Briefly, this murder was the culmination of series of
acts of harassment, including at least one earlier attempt on Bhukhan
and Niyamat’s lives. Bhukhan and Niyamat fearlessly continued to fight
for the rights of NREGA workers and to stand up against the nexus of
corruption and crime in the area. Niyamat was killed just a few days
after he and others exposed a flagrant NREGA scam in Rankikalan Gram
Panchayat.

We are dismayed by the insidious allegations that have been made about
Niyamat in sections of the mainstream media, attempting to project him
as a "criminal" to divert attention from the real issues and culprits.
These reports were factually incorrect and the concerned publication
carried an apology the following day.

We are most disturbed to learn from reliable sources that the murder
was executed by a local Moaist squad. In fact, the South Latehar
sub-zonal committee of the CPI (Maoist) itself claimed responsibility
for it and attempted to justify the murder by making absurd
allegations such as Niyamat and Bhukhan being police informers. Are we
to understand from this incident that there is truth in the rumour of
a nexus between the local Maoist squad of that area and corrupt
contractors involved in the loot of NREGA funds? If so, is it an
isolated aberration or a symptom of a larger problem?

We demand immediate arrests of the prime suspects (named in the FIR),
compensation for Niyamat’s family, protection for Bhukhan Singh, and a
CBI enquiry into Niyamat’s murder.

We also demand an apology and explanation from the Central Committee
of the CPI (Maoist), and a guarantee of safety for Bhukhan Singh who
is still “wanted” by the sub-zonal committee. No explanation, however,
can justify the brutal murder of a defenceless person, let alone
someone who was bravely fighting for people’s rights. This is a wholly
reprehensible act and all those responsible for it must be punished.

Signatories: Aruna Roy (Mazdoor Kisan Shatki Sangathan); Arundhati Roy (writer); Bela Bhatia (human rights activist); Cedric Prakash (human rights activist); Gautam Navlakha (People’s Union for Democratic Rights); Harish Dhawan (People’s Union for Democratic Rights); Harsh Mander (Aman Biradari); K.N. Panikkar (historian); Nandita Das (actress), Nikhil Dey (National Campaign for People’s Right to Information); Jean Drèze (Allahabad University); Kavita Srivastava (People’s Union for Civil Liberties); Nandini Sundar (Delhi School of Economics); Rajinder Sachar (People’s Union for Civil Liberties); Reetika Khera (IIT, Delhi); Satya Sivaraman (freelance journalist); Shabnam Hashmi (ANHAD); Shashi Bhushan Pathak (People’s Union for Civil Liberties); Swami Agnivesh (human rights activist); Vrinda Grover (Supreme Court lawyer).

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