Tribal courts prevail over cops


Alok K N Mishra,=RANCHI: Jharkhand, especially the Maoist-affected hinterland, has seen low reporting of criminal cases thanks to tribal people’s faith in traditional dispute redressal system through panchayats or kangaroo courts.

A 2011 report by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) shows the state, with a population of 3.29 crore, has reported only 35,838 cases under the Indian Penal Code whereas states, like Kerala and Assam, with similar or less population, have recorded more than double the number.

Kerala, with a population of 3.3 crore, has reported 1.72 lakh cases, Haryana (2.5 crore) 60,000 cases and Assam (3 crore) 66,000 cases.

The development comes at a time when the state police are making every effort to reach out to the common man. In the past 12 years, 95 police stations have come up in different districts of Jharkhand, which is one of the worst Maoist-affected states in the country and ranks 27{+t}{+h} in NCRB’s national crime index. At present, there are 426 police stations in the state.

Senior IPS officer S N Pradhan admitted that people in rural areas are apprehensive about approaching police.

“If we go by records, around 45 per cent of the total cases reported to police are from four major cities – Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Bokaro and Dhanbad,” said Pradhan, adding that rural areas are comparatively peaceful and this can be one reason for less number of cases being lodged.

But T N Sahu, lecturer at the department of tribal and regional languages, Ranchi University, said tribal people prefer panchayats to police.

“It is part of their culture. If we have a look at the cultural shift, we will find that only those tribals who live in towns and cities go to police. People living in villages still prefer panchayats to solve their problems,” he added.

In tribal-dominated areas, like Simdega, Khunti, East Singhbhum, West Singhbhum, Gumla and Lohardaga, panchyats play a crucial role in solving local problems. In December last year, five youths were lynched in Manho village in Khunti following a panchayat decision to stop them from harassing local girls.

Kangaroo courts are common in Maoist areas, like Latehar, where cases are disposed of fast.

In November 2010, a kangaroo court organized by CPI(Maoist) activists gave death sentence to a man in Giridih district and beheaded him.

The rebels had left behind posters in which they claimed responsibility for the murder.

In March 2010, a kangaroo court had found a block-level BJP leader in Latehar district guilty of conspiracy and was gunned down.

Human rights activist Shashi Bhushan Pathak said kangaroo courts are organized mostly in Maoist-hit regions. “People fear police and CRPF and avoid going to police stations,” he said.

Former Jharkhand DGP B D Ram agreed that presence of kangaroo courts and powerful tribal tradition are behind such poor reporting of criminal cases in the rural pockets.


Author: madhubaganiar

Madhubaganiar loves to write on social issues especially for downtrodden segment of Indian society.

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