In her two-room thatched hut, daily wage labourer Mantu Devi is inconsolable. It has been over three months since her 18-year-old son, Bhola Gosain, an intermediate student who used to double up as daily wage labourer, was brutally killed, but the perpetrators are yet to be booked.
It was a cold, windy December evening last year and Bhola after a hard day’s work in a nearby brick kiln, went home, took a shower and walked to a nearby a temple where he generally meets his friends. A while Bolero van with tinted glass stopped, five men got down, forced Bhola into the vehicle and zoomed away at breakneck speed.
“We looked for him all over the place, all the way to Ranchi, but he was nowhere to be found. When we approached the police, they did nothing but kept asking us in turn whether we suspected anyone or any group. Naming the group we suspected would have risked all our lives as their members enjoy full police patronage,” said the mother, whose pain of losing an adolescent son was impalpable.
Almost one-and-a-half months later, courtesy a vegetable vendor, the family located Bhola’s grave, exhumed his body and conducted last rites.
Mantu Devi said the culprits were moving freely in the town but that the police were turning a blind eye. “Kalpai Kalpai ke mor beta ke jaan lei rahe. Garib ke chhauva ke koee bachai ke na rahe (They brutally tortured my son to death. There was none to save the poor man’s son),” she said in chaste Kudukh language, fishing out a photograph of her slain son from a torn bag, the only memory his family has of him, now.
This family, hailing from Gumla’s Ghagra block around 120 km west of capital Ranchi, is traditionally into farming, but post monsoon when the fields go dry they take up odd, menial jobs on daily wages for survival.
“My brother had no connection with any group. He hardly had any friends. They broke all his limbs and buried him while he was still breathing. Police did not show any seriousness to solve the murder mystery” said Shankar Gosain, Bhola’s elder brother, who also works in a brick kiln in another state.
Locals said the pro-police and anti-Maoist ultra-outfit, Jharkhand Jan Mukti Parishad (JJMP) had carried out Bhola’s abduction and murder. A day before Bhola’s abduction, suspected Maoists had killed a JJMP cadre, Rupesh Singh, in the town. The rebels suspected Bhola to be a Maoist sympathizer. Nathpur, the place where Bhola’s body was recovered, happens to be JJMP’s stronghold.
“We haven’t got any evidence against JJMP in the murder,” Ghagra police station office in-charge, Rajendra Rajak said, assuring action against the culprits if they were caught.
Ghagra residents mocked Rajak’s ‘fake’ assurance, alleging that JJMP cadres sleep in police barracks and abuse human rights with impunity under their patronage.
In a state where security forces are fuelling the growth of terror gangs to counter Maoist insurgency, commoners find themselves trapped among enemies on all sides with no one to listen to their grievances.
JJMP cadres are at the frontline of all combat operations against Maoists, launched by the forces. In return, they get free land and take the law into their hands if their interests are vitiated by any individual or group.
Last year, a senior ADG rank police officer stirred a wider debate when he condemned the use of terror gangs like JJMP in anti-Maoists operations, but he was silenced as the government put him in a non-field post. DGP D K Pandey and his officers declined using any terror group in the war against the Maoists.