Since the evening of 8th December, 2012, community journalist Aparna Marandi and her 4 year old son Alok Chandra have been untraceable since their detention by the Jharkhand Police at Hatiya Railway Station, Ranchi, Jharkhand. Aparna and her son were arrested along with their companions Baby Turi, Headwoman of Jatipur Panchayat, Sushila Ekka, social worker and 14 year old Satish, a relative of Aparna.
The women were preparing to board the Tejaswini Express to Hyderabad to participate in a public meeting on the eve of the International Human Rights Day. When the police were moving in on them, Baby Turi managed a quick phone call to her husband, Damodar Turi. The police were dressed in plainclothes, she said. Despite the fact that the detainees were women and children, no policewomen were present at the scene.
Once the news got out over the internet and local newspapers, concerned friends and acquaintances have been desperately trying to contact the victims. Their cell phones are ringing but there has been no reply. Attempts to contact the police and government officials have so far been unsuccessful. It is approaching 48hrs since the women and children have been missing but so far the police has denied this arrest.
Aparna Marandi is the wife of cultural activist Jeetan Marandi. Jeetan was a composer and singer of the songs of the people’s movements in Jharkhand. He sang about poverty, starvation, corruption, oppression - realities of life in some of the most marginalized regions in the country. The state reacted to his activism with draconian force and incarcerated him. Despite being acquitted by the Jhakhand High Court, Jeetan continues to languish in prison. It has been four long years since he was arrested.
Since Jeetan’s arrest, Aparna has been indefatigable. With her son in her arms, she would go from courts to police stations to government officers to conferences to rallies in the streets in an effort to secure justice for Jeetan. She is one of the most powerful voices for human rights and justice in grassroots Jharkhand.
Listen to a recording of her voice on August 11th, 2012 (http://www.cgnetswara.org/index.php?id=13006) in which Aparna questions if India is indeed independent. “I look in all the four directions and I see that ‘independence’ is just lip service. I cannot see any signs of ‘rights’ and ‘freedoms’… It is the very people who work for society who are put in jail. My husband is one such example,” she says. Aparna is an outstanding, outspoken, empowered citizen of the country.
In the light of these events, the Jharkhand police’s action is tantamount to ‘kidnapping’. Coming on the heels of the arrests of many activists and social workers like Dayamani Barla, it reveals a disturbing trend in which the state of Jharkhand would seem to resort to any deplorable violation to silence voices of non-violence and dissent.
In November 2012, Aparna was trained in community media by Video Volunteers and she had joined our IndiaUnheard Community News Service as a correspondent from Girdhi district of which she is a resident. Aparna is a colleague and a compatriot.
In these confusing times we live in, it is a voice like Aparna’s that speaks the ground realities, the truths, the words that need to be said. They need to be acknowledged not silenced.
We condemn the police and the state’s actions and dumbfounding silence as unconstitutional, unlawful, illegal and anti-democratic. We stand in solidarity with Aparna, Baby and Susheela. We hope for the well being of the two young boys Alok and Satish.
Help free Aparna by repeatedly contacting Jharkhand DGP, G.S.Rath on the following numbers.
Office No. – 06512400737, 06512400738
Residence No – 06512234755
Fax No. – 06512400738
Mobile No. – 9934315260, 9431115260
- Demand that he tell you the whereabouts of Aparna, Alok, Baby, Susheela and Satish.
- Demand that they be produced before a magistrate.
- Demand that the police officials responsible for this unconstitutional detention be suspended.
Community Correspondents use many strategies to escalate an issue by increasing the scale or reach of their videos and finding ways to put pressure on government functionaries.