Jeetan Marandi is a cultural activist from Jharkhand and also one of the secretaries of Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners. He was arrested in 2008 and accused by the police of being involved in the murder of 20 villagers, including the son of former Jharkhand chief minister Babulal Marandi, in Chilkari in 2007. He was sentenced to death in June 2011 by a lower court in Jharkhand. He has been an active participant in the movements against forcible land acquisitions in Jharkhand - and was actually arrested while he was on the way back from one such rally organized by the Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vikash Andolan, almost an year after the killings. The police chargesheeted him under various clauses of the penal code, and it has also been alleged that false witnesses were brought forth during the trial, leading to the death-sentence. This case falls into the larger pattern of victimization of the cultural political activists as well as those adivasi voices who are resisting the various injustices being inflicted by the state.
In his writings and songs one finds the pain of starvation, loot and displacement going on in Jharkhand today, and one finds an attack on the system that is responsible for it. His songs are the voice of popular resistance. This is the source of his popularity and the cause of the government’s anger. He has been arrested while leading workers’ movements, sent to jail for participating in anti-government protests, and accused of inflammatory speech. Despite this he has continued awakening the masses. Whether it the issue was displacement or corporate loot Jeetan Marandi was there with his troupe. He was there in the fight to release political prisoners. Perhaps it became difficult for the government to tolerate this man who was becoming the emblem of popular resistance in Jharkhand. It became necessary to silence this voice of opposition. It became even more urgent to suppress him because his voice was becoming a weapon in the resistance against the loot of jal-jungle-zamin and mineral resources by national and multinational corporations. Every act of repression was making it even more potent. This is the truth behind the conspiracy against Jiten Marandi, this is the reality of Jharkhand today.
We strongly protest and are concerned about the continuing incarceration of people’s cultural artist Jiten Marandi. Jiten Marandi is also one of the secretaries of the CRPP. Notwithstanding the fact that Jiten Marandi has been acquitted on December 15, 2011 by the High Court of Jharkhand against the death sentence given to him by the sessions court in the notorious Chilkari case. Despite such heavy odds against him, Jiten Marandi could successfully tide over all machinations of the state to silence his voice. The overwhelming support of the masses of the people also proved beyond doubt that the people of the subcontinent value the struggle for justice. Further he has got bail on all the four cases slapped on him. It should be noted that two of the cases were foisted on him when he was behind bars! But he was about to be released with order of the bail when the authoritarian state of Jharkhand which has scant respect for law has yet again come up with another draconian instrument to stifle the voice of Jiten Marandi.
But we are concerned about the desperate manner in which the vindictive and authoritarian state have thrown all sense of justice and fair play to the winds and evoked the draconian Jharkhand Crime Control Act (2002) on Jiten Marandi. This last minute desperation of the Jharkhand government to evoke a draconian preventive detention act like the Jharkhand Crime Control Act (2002) to prevent the release of Jiten Marandi shows the complete lack of respect on the side of the government for the principles of right to fair trial, right to legal remedies for any citizen who necessarily has been a dissenting voice against the anti-people policies under the rubric of Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation.
One of the worst kinds of Preventive Detention instruments like the Public Safety Act of Jammu& Kashmir, the Jharkhand Crime Control Act (2002) if sanctioned on a person can put him/her behind bars for two years. This act calls for the production of the grounds on which the sanction of the same is sought on a person. The act is normally pressed into service when the SP of police moves the District Magistrate seeking the sanction to evoke the provision. The SP of police will have to show why this is the only recourse available before the government let alone convince the authority how the accused has become a real threat to the normal conduct of public life. This has to be sanctioned in 12 days. It is the state government which approves the sanction through a two member committee including the home secretary and a judge of the rank of the High Court.
Prima facie the case on Jitan Marandi under the Jharkhand Crime Control Act (2002) is nothing but a politically motivated one to ensure that he remained incarcerated behind the bars. The very timing of the invocation of this draconian law when he has been acquitted and then got bail in all trumped up cases against him is in itself evidence to show the illegal act of the state conspiring to deny the fundamental rights of a citizen to have his/her opinion as well as the right to free trial. In fact it is cruel joke on the criminal jurisprudence of this country and a bloat on judiciary itself. It also proves beyond doubt how the powers that be arbitrarily invoke every draconian instrument of law in the book to silence the genuine voices of the people for rights to life and livelihood.
We demand that
1. The move to invoke the draconian Jharkhand Crime Control Act (2002) to continue the incarceration of Jiten Marandi be immediately revoked!
2. Release Jiten Marandi immediately and unconditionally!