MASUM conducted a fact finding over the incident of Umakanta Mahato’s killing. The fact finding came to a conclusion that Umakanta killed by the posted joint force comprising of Central Reserve Police Force, Local Police personnel, aided by armed mercenaries of ruling party (Harmad). Umakanta was not only deprived by his fundamental right to life; guaranteed by article 21 of Indian Constitution but the whole incident was contravening to Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials adopted by Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, in which India was a party. In our domestic legal domain there are several provisions and procedures with specific directives for minimum use of power and firearms with basic tenets that also should be used only for self defense. But in contrary to all, Umakanta was killed on 27.08.2010 at about 1.00 am while he was returning from adjoining village at Parulia forest in a motorbike with two associates.
Umakanta was an accused in the case related to Gyaneshwari Train mishap, in which hundreds of common passengers were died. He was evading arrest thereafter as a warrant of arrest was issued by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), now investigating the incident. CBI announced reward of Rupees one lac (1,00,000/-) and announcement was made by pasting hundreds of posters.
It was also reported from various sources that on 26th August Umakanta with his companions killed 3 CPIM supporters, i.e. Tapan Mantri, Gopal Mantri and Rajib Mantri at Baghjhanpa village by arranging ‘peoples court’. After that they reached at Pathra village of Patashimul area and physically tortured several people allegedly supporters of CPIM.
Umakanta Mahato was returning from Village- Pathar Pata Shimul to his home, while his motorbike reached near village Banksol, Post Office- Mantipa Mohanpur and P.S-Jhargram, District-West Midnapur at around 1.00 am, he was accompanied by Abani Mahato and Samir Mahato by riding a motorbike and other two of his companions were pillion, on the way at Parulia forest, suddenly they found rope was tied between the trees of both sides of that Moram (mud) road to obstruct any movement. As he stopped his motorbike and asked his companions to untie the rope for their passage, three bullets were fired from his back. One hit back of his right ear and got stuck inside, while two other pierce through his right l waist back and exited through right middle abdomen.
After the firing took place, the companions of Umakanta flee from the place of incident and informed the villagers. They informed that during the operation the mercenaries of ruling party were also present with the joint force and they only made identification for the joint force personnel. Body of Umakanta was dragged few yards from the place where he gunned down and after making search of his body was left, as alleged by the villagers and the said companions. Later, Umakanta’s body was found at the said place with his trousers lowered down to his ankle and one pistol beside him.
Jhargram police station registered one unnatural death case, vides Jhargram PS U/D Case No. 137/10 dated 27.08.2010 and another criminal case against Umakanta Mahato vide Jhargram PS Case No. 253/10 dated 27.08.2010 under sections 147/ 148/ 149/ 353/ 307/ 120B/ 121/ 121A/ 122/ 123/ 124A of Indian Penal Code and 25 & 27 of Arms Act.
Many villagers corroborated the facts as they gathered the same through the said eye witnesses as well other reliable sources. We are withholding their names for protection and security of the persons.
Umakanta was from a very poor background, his family owned 7/8 bighas of land including their house and garden and most of the land are mono crop and without any irrigation facilities, his family collecting Shal leaves for their sustenance.
Umakanta left behind his father Shambhu Mahato aged about 70 years, Sokhi Mahato aged about 55 years his mother, wife Sabita Mahato aged about 28 years and three daughters one son respectively; Tanushree Mahato aged about 12 years and a student of class VI, Anushree Mahato aged about 11 years and a student of class V, Rajoshree Mahato aged about 9 years and a student of class IV and Adikanto Mahato aged about 5 years and a student of Nursery. He was only earning member of his family.
Umakanta’s village is only a replica of pathetic situation of that particular part of the state. There is only one well as source for potable water, there were two tube-wells but both were out of order since years together. The primary health deliverance is nearly 4 kilometers away, again without any indoor facilities.
Umakanta joined Peoples’ Committee against Police Atrocities and became member of its Central Committee. He was with conviction that the Committee’s fight will bring justice for the populace. Earlier he was a CPIM cadre. He left CPIM politics and joined Trinamool Congress.
Ms. Sabita Mahato informed the fact finding team that on 27. 08. 2010, a constable from Manikpara Beat House under Jhargram PS came to Umakanta’s house and informed his death and asked her to identify the body; one sub inspector attached with Manikpara Beat House, Jhargram drafted the application of Ms. Sabita for identification of the body.
Later, the Inspector in Charge of Jhargram Police Station attested her signature for handing over of the dead body after post mortem examination to Ms. Sabita, where he mentioned that the death was due to ENCOUNTER. Though, Jhargram Sub Divisional Hospital not imparted the body disposal certificate to the family of Umakanta. Umakanta’s wife applied for the Post Mortem Examination Report but till waiting for the same. Sabita Mahato with conformity told that her husband was cold bloodedly murdered by the CRPF personnel and CPI (M) mercenaries and wants justice and punishment for involved persons. We were informed by Mr. Aloke Ranjan Munshi, Additional Officer-in-Charge of Jhargram PS that one Executive Magistrate deputed as Deputy Collector at SDO office in Jhargram conducted inquest over the body at the police morgue on 27 August 2010
It was also revealed during the Fact Finding that on 28.06.2010 at about 5.00 am a huge posse of CRPF, police, along with some local mercenaries of CPIM from adjoining areas came to Umaknta’s father in law; Duryodhan’ s house, Sabita Mahato; the wife of Umakanta Mahato was present at her parental home at that time. The CRPF personnel lifted Sabita Mahato and Sanaka Mahato; sister in law of Umakanta and daughter of Durjodhan Mahato, a Bachelor of Arts student of Jhargram Raj College from their bed, to a nearby primary school, used as camp of joint forces and inquired about the whereabouts of Umakanta, while they showed their ignorance, one of the posted armed personnel told to those women that ‘I will push the barrel into your anus and then only truth will come out’. While, Soneka pleaded for her early release from the camp as an examination was due on that date the joint force personnel remarked ‘what is the need of examination, we will teach you actual lessons on bed’. The posted CRPF personnel commented on Sabita’s smeared vermilion over her head as ‘it proves you had good sex with your husband previous night’. During this Ms. Sabita was mercilessly beaten by sticks.
The joint force along with mercenaries of ruling party (Harmads) attacked and ransacked Umakanta’s house thrice. During the latest incident on 24.08.2010 at about 9.00 am, joint force and CPI (M) goons ransacked and looted land records from Umakanta’s house.
- Umakanta was fired from his back and no way in position to attack. It was a cold blooded murder by Cobra force aided by CPI (M) mercenaries (Harmads).
- Umakanta was left to die without providing any medical care for more than 5 hours by the Cobra force. Later joint force personnel came at the spot and claimed the execution was done by them.
- Not a single fire shot from Umakanta’s side and none except Umakanta was received any injury.
- Joint Force personnel fabricated and tampered over the evidence.
- Non state actors were also present during the killing
- Umakanta’s family was under constant threats and subjugation from joint force as well as ruling party mercenaries
- Sabita Mahato and Soneka Mahato; wife and sister in law of Umakanta respectively were tortured at joint force camp with sexual connotation by CRPF personnel
- Police made documents with prejudice and have taken judicial stand before initiation of any investigation.
Jhargram Sub Divisional Hospital acted with impropriety by not providing disposal certificate and Post Mortem Examination Report to family of the deceased.
- Immediate initiation of judicial enquiry over the incident
- National Human Rights Commission’s guidelines over Encounter Deaths should be maintained and uphold during the process of investigation in verbatim and specific murder case should be registered against the involved police personnel
- Protection of witnesses and family members should taken care of by the state administration with utmost priority
- Immediate criminal proceedings against the posted CRPF personnel, who brought Umakanta’s wife and sister in law to the joint force’s camp should be initiated with proper penal provisions
- Appropriate compensation should be given to the family
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