Jharkhand: Activist’s passport impounded for being involved in ‘anti-national activities’

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Gladson dungdung
Gladson Dungdung
Photo: Rajesh Kumar Sen

The regional passport authority has seized the passport of Jharkhand-based human rights activist, Gladson Dungdung, claiming they have an ‘adverse police report’ on him. The officials said the report claims Dungdung is involved in ‘anti-national activities’.

Dungdung, a tribal native of Jharkhand, told journalists that when he had applied for the passport, the policemen, who had come to his house for the verification, had asked for a bribe. While he has requested the central government to intervene in this matter, he claims that refusing to pay bribe led to the authorities submitting a negative report.

A government official said that Dungdung had applied under the tatkal scheme, under which the passport is given before police verification is conducted. An adverse report could lead to cancellation of the passport, requiring him to apply again.

A senior police officer in Jharkhand told TEHELKA that there are two adverse reports against him. The first is a police report regarding a FIR lodged in July 2012, in which Gladson was named as an accused. The FIR is for agitation against acquisition of agricultural land in Nagri in state capital, Ranchi. The second is a report by the special branch (state intelligence bureau) of the state police.

The BJP-led coalition government in Jharkhand had moved for taking possession of agricultural land in Nagri. A notice had been issued half a century ago to acquire the land for an agricultural university. The university had since been built but they had not required the additional land. In 2008, the government decided to use 224 acres of agricultural land for building campuses for IIM-Ranchi, a national law school, IGNOU and the country’s sixth IIIT. During one of the protests to the acquisition of land, some of the activists burnt an effigy of the Jharkhand High Court which had directed the administration to acquire the land. “Dungdung is also named in that FIR against some of those protests which became violent,” the senior police officer said.

On the other hand, a source said that the special branch report delves through Dungdung’s career as a human rights activist, where some police officers have even sometimes referred to him as Maoist sympathiser. Dungdung alleges that the special branch police had also asked him for bribes.

In 2012, international human rights watchdog Human Rights Watch released a report titled “Between Two Sets of Guns: Attacks on Civil Society Activists in India’s Maoist Conflict. ” In that report, Dungdung wrote about the frustration of being an activist under attack from both the government and the Maoists. He had come under frequent attacks and at least one illegal detention in the red corridor. Police questioned him for ‘Maoist’ links.

Around that time, Dungdung had also written a letter to the then Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, with recommendations on how to curb extremism in the tribal hinterland. Dungdung was also a member of an assessment and monitoring authority under the Planning Commission from 2011 to 2013.

Instead of considering the recommendations, the home ministry conducted an inquiry into his activities, to assess if he was a Maoist or Maoist sympathiser. TEHELKA had met Dungdung in 2011 when security forces were conducting operation Anaconda in Saranda forests of Jharkhand and he had reported about the killing of an innocent villager by security personnel. National Human Rights Commission took cognizance of his report and initiated an inquiry. Later, a state police officer stated before a magistrate that a CRPF Assistant Commandant had indeed shot the villager.

Dungdung has also worked on trafficking of women to metropolitan cities including the national capital from the tribal-dominated districts such as Gumla, Simdega and Khunti. Now, Dungdung seems to be paying is paying the price of raising a voice through democratic processes.

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