Chief Minister Hemant Soren Likely To Expand Jharkhand Cabinet After 2 Days.

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Ranchi: Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren is likely to expand his cabinet after kharmas, an inauspicious period in Hindu calendar, ends in two days.

Mr Soren, who is in Delhi to take part in the non-BJP Chief Ministers’ meeting with Sonia Gandhi, is likely to discuss cabinet expansion with her as well as other senior Congress leaders. He may return to Ranchi on Tuesday.

Mr Soren took oath on December 29 along with three ministers – two from the Congress and one from the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). No Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) MLA was made a minister. Fourteen days after the swearing in, the portfolios are yet to be allocated.

According to sources, induction of more ministers and portfolio distribution are not proving easy for Mr Soren. While the Congress wants five ministries, the JMM is willing to give only four. The Congress also wants important ministries, like health, education and rural development.

“A detailed discussion is likely with senior Congress leaders in Delhi on cabinet expansion and portfolio distribution,” a JMM source told IANS.

Hemant Soren has to deal with the Congress demands, meet the aspirations of his own party legislators as well as balance the caste factor. Also, there are over half a dozen JMM legislators who have won the Assembly polls four-five times and are aspiring to be in the ministry.

In view of the likely cabinet expansion, the Congress legislative party leader, ministers and 16 legislators are camping in Delhi. These ministers are lobbying for “good” portfolios.

The JMM, the Congress and the RJD won 30, 16 and 1 seat, respectively, in the recently concluded Assembly polls.

‘Sold and raped’ in Delhi, Jharkhand woman says she walked over 800 km to reach home.

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Ranchi: She was promised a job for Rs 5,000 a month in Delhi by a man from her village — a decent sum, she thought, and enough to help her family of daily-wage labourers in Jharkhand. The woman agreed and left with him.

That was around four months ago.

On 27 December last year, the 19-year-old returned home beaten and bruised — allegedly subjected to unspeakable sexual abuse by men to whom she was sold.

When this reporter met her in Jharkhand on 7 January, the 19-year-old had a macabre tale of rape, torture and an ardous 800-km journey on foot to tell.

Her ordeal, she said, had begun soon after she landed in Delhi with Srijan Murmu, the man who had promised her a job at a missionary society in Delhi. But she was taken to Old Delhi right away and sold to a man.

“I was kept in an office and did cleaning work during the daytime. At nights, my buyer would rape me. If I protested, he would threaten me with a knife,” she claimed.

“Then one night, four other men came to the room where I stayed. They were big and well-built. One of them caught hold of my hand but I let myself loose somehow and jumped out of the second-floor window.”

Unhurt, she ran for safety and did not stop until she thought her perpetrators could no longer see her. Roaming aimlessly in the unknown city, the survivor told this reporter that she rummaged for food in leftovers thrown by hotels.

“People thought I was mentally challenged. So, nobody said anything,” she said.

‘Climbed trees at night to protect myself’

Her journey, however, had only begun. Running for her life, the survivor claimed she walked all the way from Delhi to Madhya Pradesh, a distance of more than 800-km, before she finally collapsed and was rescued by a few locals.

The woman said she walked all day and climbed trees at night to “protect herself”. This went on for nearly two months before she reached Sidhi district in Madhya Pradesh.

“I didn’t have any sense of direction. I just walked. I could not take a bath…and my entire body reeked. Out of fear, I could not sleep even on the trees. A nap during the day was all I could afford,” she said.

Weak and exhausted, she was found lying unconscious by some residents who then took her to a police station and later to a One Stop Centre for treatment.

But language proved another barrier for her to be reunited with her family because she spoke and understood only Santhali. The Madhya Pradesh Police got in touch with a local youth who was from Dhanbad, Ankit Rajgadhiya. Rajgadhiya then brought along a friend who spoke Santhali.

The MP Police then got in touch with the Sahibganj police station in Jharkhand and the woman was finally brought home.

A case was subsequently lodged against Murmu at the Barhet police station of Jharkhand under section 370 (trafficking) and section 371 (habitual dealing in slaves) of the IPC.

Other missing girls from the village

The 19-year-old isn’t the only woman from her village to have been trafficked. The families of two other girls, who went missing in the past three years, also blamed men from the village behind their disappearance.

The younger sister of one of the missing girls said, “When we asked Murmu to bring my sister back, he asked for Rs 2,500. He took the money but has since not come back to the village.”

The second girl’s mother similarly said her daughter was “taken away” by one Chhoto Murmu three years ago and has since not returned home.

Sahibganj Superintendent of Police Aman Kumar said disappearances of women have become a common phenomena in the area.

Ajit Jha, a local journalist, also said, “Girls belonging to the Pahadia, Santhali communities are frequently reported missing. Reports are published about them but nothing happens.”

Aiding the trafficking industry are illegally-run placement agencies that have cropped up in the state.

“A large number of fake placement agencies have come up in Ranchi and Khunti areas. Earlier, these agents used to ferry victims via trains. Now, women are taken in trucks and buses,” said Afkar Ahmed, an assistant professor at the National University of Study and Research in Law, Ranchi.

The Jharkhand government had in 2016 passed the Private Placement Agencies and Domestic Workers (Regulation) Act, which demands mandatory registration for placement agencies. The Act states that full information about the person who is to be employed outside the state for work should be given to the office of the district collector.

Those found flouting these norms will face two years in prison and/or fine of Rs 2 lakh. Any error in information pertaining to an individual will also lead to a jail term of one year or a fine of Rs 20,000.

But Ahmed said that senior police officers in the state are “unaware” of it and the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act. In one of his research papers, Ahmed also states that girls belonging to Oraon, Munda, Santhal, Pahadia and Gond tribes of Jharkhand are some of the biggest victims of this menace.

Jharkhand records highest human trafficking cases

According to data released by the National Crime Records Bureau, Jharkhand recorded 373 cases of human trafficking in 2018 — the highest in the country.

Among these, 314 cases involved trafficking of minor girls. On the basis of these recorded cases, 158 people (mostly girls) were rescued. The data also revealed that 58 cases were related to forced labor, 18 to flesh trade, 34 trafficked for domestic chores, 32 for forced marriages and seven smuggled for begging.

Maharashtra was in second place with 311 cases and Assam in the third place with 262 cases. A total of 2,367 cases were registered across the country in 2018.

A Barhet local, identified only as Rajkumar, said most of the “dealings” take place during the weekly market on Tuesdays. “The tribals come to the markets only on those days to sell things. It is here that agents scout for women.”

Data procured from the Jharkhand Police states that a total of 608 cases of human trafficking were registered from 2013 to 2019. Out of this, 736 women and 182 men were rescued. During the same period, 555 smugglers were arrested, which included 355 men and 200 women.

A study conducted on trafficking victims in the Khunti and Ranchi districts of Jharkhand has cited how impoverishment appears to be one of the main causes behind this menace.

Girls available for Rs 30,000 in Jharkhand

The representative of a panchayat in Sahibganj, who did not want to be named, said that girls are sold for around Rs 30,000 in Jharkhand. The buyer, he added, also has to deposit Rs 1,000 every month.

Baidyanath Kumar, an activist fighting human trafficking, said, “In Jharkhand, a healthy goat costs around Rs 80,000 but a girl might cost as little as Rs 30,000 only.”

This reporter also got in touch with one of the alleged traffickers who claimed he could “provide a girl within days” for Rs 50,000. Another alleged trafficker said he got anywhere between Rs 25,000 and Rs 30,000 for one girl.

The Jharkhand Police had last year arrested Panna Lal, who was known to be a kingpin of trafficking rackets in the state and had assets worth Rs 80 crore.

According to a report, trafficking for sex has an annual turnover of about Rs 2 lakh crore in India.

Fake currency racket busted in Jharkhand, two arrested.

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RAMGARH: An inter-state fake currency racket was busted and two persons arrested after vendors at a vegetable market here raised an alarm, a senior police officer said on Monday.

The two accused, including a woman, had attempted to buy vegetables with counterfeit currency notes at Gola area in the district on Sunday, he said.

The vendor, who was approached with fake notes, had drawn the attention of locals, who then informed the police, SP Prabhat Kumar told reporters.

One of the accused, during interrogation, confessed to have been running a fake currency racket in Dhanbad with the help of three other persons, including two from Bihar’s Nalanda district, the SP said.

A team of police offers carried out a raid at a residence in Mada colony of Dhanbad and seized a printing machine, 85GSM papers used in printing currency notes, printed notes of face value Rs 2000, semi-printed sheets of fake notes and laptop, Kumar said, adding that police were on the lookout for other members of the gang.

Stones Thrown In Jharkhand During BJP’s Pro-Citizenship Amendment Act Rally.

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Giridh, Jharkhand: Stones were hurled at a rally in support of Citizenship Amendment Act organised by the BJP in Jharkhand’s Giridh on Sunday, prompting police to fire teargas shells to control the situation, officials said.

The incident happened at the Padam Chowk area when BJP workers from six assembly constituencies of the district took out a procession in support of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

“Some anti-social elements pelted stones on a procession of the BJP. Few policemen and some of those participating in the rally suffered minor injuries, forcing police to use teargas to bring the situation under control,” Superintendent of Police Surendra Jha said.

Giridih’s Deputy Commissioner (DC) Rahul Kumar Sinha is at the spot and camping there along with Surendra Jha.

Taking part in the rally, former BJP state unit president Ravindra Rai told reporters that the CAA was not against any citizen of India.

“The CAA is for the minorities of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who have taken refuge in the country after fleeing persecution. They should be given citizenship. But the opposition is spreading confusion over the issue. No Indian should be worried about the CAA,” he said.

Former Jharkhand CM Babulal Marandi may merge party with BJP.

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Former Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das has been asked by senior BJP leaders to come to Delhi this week as talks for a merger of the Jhakhand Vikas Morcha (P), led by another former Chief Minister of the State, Babulal Marandi, with the party gain pace.

Senior BJP sources in Delhi and Ranchi have said that Mr. Marandi has been in talks with the party for the merger, and Mr. Das has been asked to give his input. Mr. Marandi had been in the BJP in the past and broke away after he felt he was being undermined.

“The loss in the Jharkhand polls is being assessed by the BJP and it was felt, especially by the on-ground RSS in the State, that Mr. Marandi, a former BJP leader, should be wooed and brought back into the party to restore some of its support base among tribal communities, which has been badly eroded under Mr. Das,” a senior BJP leader said.

Multiple reasons

The BJP feels that if Mr. Marandi had note fielded strong candidates in seven or eight constituencies in the Santhal-Kolhan belts and cut into the grand alliance votes, the party’s tally in the Assembly election could have been lower. Mr. Marandi had broken his Lok Sabha election alliance with the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and the Congress to go it alone in these polls.

“Mr. Marandi too is assessing his political future, with Hemant Soren having pulled off a big victory. He feels he needs a national party to go forward, as his tally came down from eight (in 2014) to three in 2019,” the BJP leader said.

The sabotage that happened within the BJP campaign, specifically in Mr. Das’s Jamshedpur (East) loss to rebel Saryu Rai, is another reason Mr. Marandi is being brought back.

“There are certain leaders who worked against the interests of the party in these polls, and combined with Raghubar Das’s unpopularity, the grand alliance managed a simple majority in the Assembly. We have to acknowledge that too,” a source said.

With the “inauspicious” khar maas ending with Makar Sankranti on January 14, a meeting of the party parliamentary board will be called soon after to take forward the merger, BJP leaders say.

65-year-old woman killed after being branded ‘witch’ in Jharkhand: Cops

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A 65-year-old woman suspected of practising witchcraft was beaten to death by a man in Jharkhand’s Simedga district, days after a report by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) said the state recorded the highest number of such killings in India in 2018.

Police said 22-year-old Manoj Bilung allegedly killed Ashrita Bilung with sticks after branding her a witch on Friday, a day before his wedding at Sarkhutoli village under Pakartand police station, around 140km from capital Ranchi.

“Suspecting Ashrita of practising black magic, Manoj went to her house in the village on Friday midnight and beat her to death. This is what Manoj said during interrogation,” Pakartand police station in-charge Hiralal Mahto said.

Mahto said Manoj was arrested on Saturday and sent to jail on Sunday.

Despite a drop in witch-hunt murder cases in Jharkhand, annual figures released by NCRB last Wednesday show the tribal state witnessed the highest number of such killings in the country in 2018 at 18.

The country witnessed 63 such murders in 2018. Madhya Pradesh recorded 10 witch-hunt murders, Andhra Pradesh nine, Chhattisgarh eight and Odisha saw five such killings in 2018, as per NCRB.

An analysis of NCRB’s data since 2001 shows 560 women were lynched in Jharkhand after being branded witches between 2001 and 2018. The state saw the highest or 54 witch-hunting murders in 2013, 52 in 2008 and 50 in 2007.

Jharkhand has seen a decline in such killings since 2014 when 47 women were lynched, which dropped to 32 in 2015, 27 in 2016, 19 in 2017 and 18 in 2018.

Four people in their 60s, including two women, were killed in July last year after around a dozen angry villagers dragged them out of their houses and attacked them with sticks and sharp weapons while accusing them of practising witchcraft at Siskari village in Gumla district.

Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha are the worst affected states of the social evil. Hundreds of women have been persecuted, tortured and killed after being branded as witches in the past few decades in these four states.

Corruption charges baseless, ready for any probe: Ex Jharkhand CM Raghubar Das.

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Ranchi, Jan 10: Former Chief Minister Raghubar Das Friday challenged Hemant Soren government to get allegations of corruption against him probed by any agency. He termed the allegations as baseless.

Replying to allegations of corruption worth Rs 100 crore leveled against him by Jan Sabha’s Pankaj Kumar Yadav, Das said, “Momentum Jharkhand Global Investors’ Summit brought Jharkhand prominently on the world map. Investors all over the world came to know about Jharkhand’s suitability as an investment destination. They came to know about the ease of doing business in the state, availability of resources and basic infrastructure.”

Das spoke while attending a programme organized in the state Capital to pay tributes to Justice LPN Shahdeo. He said there was no scam in Momentum Jharkhand.

“Momentum Jharkhand was organized with full transparency. Many companies invested in Jharkhand after the Global Summit. Many youths of the state got employment after the event. Anyone can complain. Now it’s their (JMM’s) government. They can get the allegations investigated. I have nothing to worry about,” said the former CM.

Yadav, the Jan Sabha functionary, lodged a complaint against Das with the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) yesterday. He also accused former Jharkhand Chief Secretary Raj Bala Verma, former Principal Secretary to CM Sunil Kumar Barnwal and several other state bureaucrats of involvement in the scam and demanded a thorough probe.

Superstition, sectarianism killed more people in Jharkhand than Naxalism.

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Superstition and sectarianism killed more people in Jharkhand than Left Wing Extremism (LWE) in 2018, says the latest report on Crime in India by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), highlighting the deep-rooted superstition and caste distinction in the tribal State.

The report, released on Wednesday, said that the motive behind at least 18 murders in Jharkhand was witch-hunting in the year 2018, while honour killing was the reason behind nine murders in the same year. Interestingly, “Extremism/ Naxalism/ Insurgency” was reason for only two murders in the State in year 2018, the report added.

While figures with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) claim that at least 19 of 24 districts in Jharkhand are Left Wing Extremism-affected, the NCRB data may convince one to believe that superstition was far more dangerous and widespread here, say social activists. According to the NCRB report, the motive behind 62 murders across India in 2018 was witchcraft and 18 of them were reported in Jharkhand – the highest in the country.

“Witch-hunting is a social malady. We require joint efforts from different stakeholders to spread awareness against such age-old superstitious practices,” said Jharkhand Director General of Police (DGP) KN Choubey. He, however, refused to comment on the NCRB figures of murders executed by LWE groups, claiming that he was yet to personally go through the report. “The NCRB is a trustworthy and reputed agency,” he added.  

This is, however, not the first instance when Jharkhand has topped in terms of murders related to witchcraft in India. Superstitious practices in the interiors have remained a major concern for the Government here for several years. The tribal dominated state witnessed at least 590 cases of witch-hunting from 2001 to 2018, says combined figures of the State police and the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). Besides, several incidents of occultists trying to resurrect dead people and women getting married off to snakes and dogs have been reported from far off villages in Jharkhand in the past – a proof of the deep-embedded superstition in the rural society here.

Jharkhand also tops in terms of honour killings. The State witnessed nine incidents of honour killings in 2018 – the highest in India. Police said that most of the honour killing incidents are triggered by sectarianism and caste distinctions. Inter-caste love affairs and marriages were still one of the most common reasons for honour killings in Jharkhand, they added. “Such flawed idea of honour and caste distinction has to be dealt with extensive social awareness campaigns. The police can investigate murder cases and nab the accused, but the change has to begin in the society,” said Choubey. 

While the NCRB report puts the figure of human sacrifice to zero in Jharkhand in 2018, some incidents of alleged human sacrifice too have been reported here in the past decade.

In a suspected case of human sacrifice, the police had to exhume half-buried, naked and decapitated bodies of two children from a village in Latehar, about 100 Kilometers northwest of capital Ranchi, in July last year.

In May 2017, the police arrested a 26-year-old Ranchi man on charges of attempting to sacrifice his mother to appease a goddess. And in 2015, a 60-year-old man was reportedly sacrificed in Gumla for better rainfall.

Congress MLA remark on Tabrez lynching stirs row in Jharkhand.

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Jharkhand Assembly’s maiden session Wednesday was rocked by Congress MLA Irfan Ansari’s allegation that the accused in the murder of Tabrez Ansari, the 24-year-old attacked by a lynch mob in June last year, were BJP workers.

Although Speaker Rabindra Nath Mahato said the lines would be expunged and demanded an apology, Ansari refused to apologise.

Ansari later said he wasn’t naming the entire saffron party for the murder, but a few persons affiliated to it.

Tabrez Ansari was tied to a pole and beaten with rods in Saraikela-Kharsawan area for alleged theft. He was also forced to chant “Jai Shri Ram” and “Jai Hanuman”. He died in jail four days later. Police had earlier dropped the murder charge in the case, but later added it while filing a supplementary chargesheet.

On Wednesday, trouble began when a Jharkhand Mukti Morcha legislator was addressing the session looking at the BJP MLAs, which the saffron party objected to. BJP Ranchi MLA C P Singh interrupted him. On Irfan Ansari’s turn to address the assembly, he said the present government will investigate the previous government’s work. This was again interrupted by C P Singh. In response, Irfan Ansari made the allegation.

Despite Speaker Rabindra Nath Mahato expunging the “objectionable part” from the proceedings and adjourning the assembly for 15 minutes, all the BJP MLAs trooped into the well of the House, raised slogans and demanded an apology from Congress members.

A few months ago, C P Singh had compelled Irfan Ansari to say Jai Shri Ram outside the assembly building.

Later, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, while replying to the motion of thanks, said his government will pursue development that people will feel. He further said his government would end the model of “filling up coffers of politicians and officers”, taking a veiled dig at the previous government.

Uproar in Jharkhand House as MLA drags RSS into lynching case.

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Ranchi: The Jharkhand Assembly on Wednesday witnessed uproarious scenes when a Congress legislator Irfan Ansari dragged the RSS into the lynching of Tabrez Ansari last year.

Irfan Ansari, speaking on the motion of thanks to the Governor”s address, said “BJP and RSS are responsible for the killing of Tabrez Ansari”. The Congress legislator”s remark invited a sharp reaction from the BJP MLAs.

Tabrez Ansari was thrashed by a mob in the Seraikela-Kharsawa district of Jharkhand on June 17, 2019 resulting in his death a few days later.

The BJP legislators started demanding that the ”unsavoury” remark made about the BJP and the RSS should be expunged and said that the Congress legislator should express regrets about making such a comment. The legislators came to the well of the House demanding an apology and expunging of the remark.

“What is the proof of the Irfan Ansari allegation,” said BJP legislator C.P. Singh.

Assembly speaker Rabindranath Mahto pacified the BJP legislators and asked them to return to their seats. The Speaker later expunged the Congress legislator”s remark.

The BJP legislators however stuck to the demand for an apology by Irfan Ansari and again came to the well of the House. ”Dismiss Irfan Ansari from House” and ”Irfan Ansari must tender apology” were some of the slogans raised by the BJP legislators.

The Assembly Speaker”s move to pacify the BJP legislators however failed. He left the apology issue to the conscience of the Congress legislator, who categorically said that he would not apologise.

The BJP legislators then raised more slogans forcing the Speaker to adjourn the House.

When the House reassembled, the BJP legislators again demanded an apology from the Congress and came to the well of the House. The issue got further aggravated when CP Singh said, “What if I say Irfan Ansari was a terrorist who attacked Mumbai, he was a sleeper cell of the ISI and agent of Pakistan, then what”?

Singh”s remark triggered heated exchanges between the treasury and opposition benches as MLAs stood on their seats and yelled at each other.

The Speaker tried to pacify those BJP legislators who were in the well of the House.

Amid the BJP legislators” protest in the well, the Speaker allowed Chief Minister Hemant Soren to speak on the motion of thanks.

AJSU president Sudesh Mahto objected to this and said his party should be allowed to speak on the motion of thanks. The Speaker ignored his plea.

The Chief Minister gave his speech and the motion of thanks was passed by a voice vote amid protests by the BJP legislators in the well.