Jharkhand Online Network

Jharkhand Tribes
Jharkhand Network
Jharkhand Network is the first ever biggest network of entire Jharkhand region. It's target groups are Development Professionals, Media & IT experts, Researchers & University Students, Policy makers, Bureaucrats and NGOs Officers those could really hold the power to affect professionally to bring change at great land of Jharkhand. Click here to know more....
Jharkhand Messenger
Jharkhand Instant Messenger (J-iM) is an integrated part of the J'khand Online Network, where any one can post his/her messages instantly. Here, messages are not moderated at all and you may get reply via e-mail of your instant posts as well. This is just for sharing casual scraps and seasonal greetings instantly to your loving community circle. Click here to know more....
Jharkhand Video
Jharkhandi World presents your One Stop Colorful Destination, the first ever biggest 'Jharkhandi Music Video Blog' to share colorful music videos of following regional languages - Jharkhandi, Bihari, Bengali, Oriya and Chhatisgarhi.
Click here to watch now
Jharkhand Live Chat
Jharkhand Live Chat is an integrated part of Jharkhand Network, that let you to live connect with other Jharkhand Region friends, where you can use Public or Private Live Chat with any friend and make lot of new friends from Jharkhand Region.
Click here to Live Chat now
Jharkhand Database
Jharkhand e-Database is the first biggest database of Jharkhand region people. It Gives brief idea about Members’ name, native place, designation, present city of stay and direct contact no. Click here to access it now...
Jharkhand News
Jharkhand News Network has recently started electonically published news compilations (with source id), unpublished reporting news collections from A Global Network of Network's members and circulation by its moderators desk based at various city in India. Here, you may receive a colorful copy Jharkhand News everyday directly inbox of your E-mail if you become member of A Global Network of Jharkhand. Click here to subscribe free...
Jharkhand Language
Jharkhand Region has been an origin of various languages such as Hindi, Nagpuri, Mundari, Kharia, Kurux, Khortha, Santhali, Ho, Sadri, Oraon, Bengali, Bhojpuri, Maithli & Oriya etc; Here, Jharkhand Online Network is trying to connect native speaker of above languages to grow an online community. To know more please click here...
Jharkhand Minerals
Mineral rich Jharkhand Region has mines of following minerals - Apatite, Asbestos, Barytes, Bauxite, China clay, Chromite, Cobalt, Copper ore, Dolomite, Feldspar, Fireclay, Garnet, Gold ore, Granite, Graphite, Iron ore, Hematite, Magnetite, Kyanite, Limestone, Manganese ore, Mica, Nickel ore, Quartz, Quartzite, Sillimanite, Sillimanite, Talc, Stealite, Soapstone, Titanium, Tmenite, Rutile, Vermiculite & Coal etc. To know more please click here...
Adivasi (Tribal) Witchcraft News Reports

Adivasi Witchcraft


Children of 'witches' fight social stigma


September 19, 2007 (IANS) Ranchi: A social revolution is taking root in Jharkhand's villages. Daughters and granddaughters of women who were once branded witches are coming forward to root out the social evil.


Poonam Toppo, 29, whose grandmother was once tortured for being a witch, has taken up cudgels to fight the crime of branding innocent people witches and then killing them brutally.


A resident of Bhusur village on the outskirts of Ranchi, Poonam became an orphan at the age of eight. She was the third child of her family and lived with her grandmother.


Recalling her past, Poonam, now director of the Ranchi unit of Free Legal Aid Committee (FLAC), said that when a villager died, residents put the blame on her grandmother.


The village panchayat branded her grandmother a witch and she was brutally beaten up. The family was ostracised and prevented from going to the village market or participating in tribal festivals.


"My grandmother was blamed for everything taking place in the village, be it the death of a cow or a buffalo. One day I decided to stand up against this. When they once came to beat my grandmother, I stood at the doorway and asked them to kill me first. The villagers retreated," Poonam said.


"I took up the matter with the panchayat leaders and argued that if my grandmother could kill anyone, then why couldn't she protect herself from the wrath of the villagers. The panchayat accepted my argument and agreed not to harass my grandmother," she said.


Poonam started a campaign against the social stigma at the age of 12. She was ridiculed in school as the granddaughter of a witch. Undaunted, she organised more than 50 plays to create awareness among children.


Seema Toppo, another girl from Namkom village in Ranchi, is also in the campaign. Seema's mother too was tortured by her neighbours. Villagers beat her, blaming her for the death of a woman.


Seema also started a protest campaign by organising street plays and puppet shows.


But women are still being attacked and killed after being branded witches in the state.


Official figures show that 189 women were killed between 2001 and 2006 for allegedly practising witchcraft. The figure is contested by FLAC, which says 412 women were killed between 2001 and 2006.


And since 1991 to July this year, 922 women have been killed.


To prevent witchcraft killing, Bihar unveiled a Witchcraft Prevention Act, 1999. Jharkhand accepted this in 2001.


"Law is not sufficient to curb witchcraft deaths. The real culprits are Ojhas (witch doctors). We want stringent action against anyone torturing women," said Ajay Kumar, a former director of FLAC.




Three of a family killed for practising witchcraft


June 28, 2008 (IANS) Ranchi: Three members of a family were beaten to death in a Jharkhand village after being accused of practising witchcraft, police said Saturday.


The incident occurred late Friday night in Torpa block of Khuti district, around 90 km from Ranchi.


Police identified the victims as Ghuchara Pahan, his son Kisun and daughter-in-law Mukta.


The villagers had convened a panchayat meeting Friday night and summoned the trio, who were asked to stop practicing black magic as this was causing suffering to the villagers.


Ghuchara and Kisun had a verbal altercation with the villagers, after which they ran into their hut. The villagers dragged them out and started beating them with bamboo sticks and irons rods, killing all three on the spot. The villagers later informed the police about the incident.


The police reached the village Saturday and took the bodies away. The villagers involved in the killing are absconding.


Over 700 people, mostly women, have been killed over the past few years in Jharkhand after being branded as witches. 




Accused witch axed to death


Jamshedpur / telegraph / July 05, 2005: A 35-year-old woman was axed to death in Lodhanbani village under Barsole police station for allegedly practising witchcraft.


The woman, identified as Badbari Munda, was allegedly axed inside her house by four villagers from the same village at about 1.30 in the night. Sukra Munda, the husband of the victim who is also the eyewitness, revealed that late Sunday night four persons forcefully entered their house and started beating Badbari.


The four have been identified as Ranga, Maha, Lolia and Tira Munda. ?We had just finished our dinner and were about to sleep when we heard some people shouting outside our house. Soon someone knocked at the door. We did not open the door, but they broke the bolt and entered the house,? said Sukra.


Ranga was carrying an axe and the other three assailants were carrying iron rods and sticks. ?As soon as they entered into the house they started abusing my wife as a witch. Before we could find our way out of the house, Ranga attacked her with the axe and she fell on the ground,? said Sukra.


Sukra and his family members, however, denied Badbari ever practised witchcraft. They maintained that before this no one has ever raised any allegation against the deceased. ?The most important thing is that witchcraft is practiced by old women and she was just 35 years old. How could they label her as a witch?? said the father of the deceased.




From Superstition to Savagery

Women Accused of Witchcraft Face Violence in Rural India


The Washington Post, August 8, 2005 - At sundown, Pusanidevi Manjhi recalled, nine village men stormed into her house shouting, "Witch, witch!" and dragged her out by her hair as her six small children watched helplessly.


"This woman is a witch!" the men announced to the villagers, said Manjhi, 36. She said they tied her ankles together and locked her in a dark room.


"They beat me with bamboo sticks and metal rods and tried to pull my nails out. 'You are a witch, admit it,' they screamed at me again and again," Manjhi said, tearfully recalling her four days of captivity in June.


"They accused me of casting an evil spell on their paddy crop that was destroyed in a fire. I begged them and told them I was not a witch," she said, showing wounds on her legs, thighs, hips and shoulders one recent morning in this village in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand.


After a police investigation, the men who attacked Manjhi were arrested. An official said that the attack was spurred by a powerful landowner who owned rice paddies in the village and used local superstition to mask his attempts to maintain control.


Threats and charges of witchcraft occur in a number of Indian states that have large tribal populations with traditional beliefs about witches. Indian newspapers periodically publish reports about women who, after being accused of being witches, have been beaten, had their heads shaved or had strings of shoes hung around their necks. Some have been killed.


In a tribal society steeped in superstition, the spells of witches often are blamed for stubborn illnesses, a stroke of bad luck, the drying up of wells, crop failure or the inability to give birth to a son. But social analysts and officials said that superstition and faith in witchcraft often are a ploy for carrying out violence against women.


"Superstition is only an excuse. Often a woman is branded a witch so that you can throw her out of the village and grab her land, or to settle scores, family rivalry, or because powerful men want to punish her for spurning their sexual advances. Sometimes it is used to punish women who question social norms," said Pooja Singhal Purwar, an official at the Jharkhand social welfare department.


"Women from well-to-do homes in the village are never branded witches," Purwar said. "It is always the socially and economically vulnerable women who are targeted and boycotted."


Purwar said she sees an average of five women a month being denounced as witches and tortured in rural Jharkhand. Her department has drawn up a public information project to oppose the practice, providing information at village fairs and conducting street performances and puppet shows. Police at the local level have been alerted to track the cases of women who are attacked, she said.


While Manjhi was imprisoned by her captors, her husband, a farmhand, sought help from the village elders, who called a meeting to determine if Manjhi was a witch and summoned a witch doctor for verification. But by then, word spread and the police arrived.


The nine men were charged under a Jharkhand state law that forbids accusing people of being witches. One of them was Gahan Lal, the man whose paddy had caught fire. Lal later confessed to torturing Manjhi.


"Gahan Lal was a powerful landlord. There were fights all the time in the village over land and wages," said Jayant Tirkey, the police officer investigating the case. "When his paddy caught fire, he blamed [Manjhi] for casting an evil spell. But that is merely an excuse. His real motive is to instill fear among the poor."


Tirkey said he thinks that village witch doctors are to blame for superstitious practices, but added that witch doctors are not arrested and tried because they are not directly involved in the violence.


"I never name a witch. I only give villagers some clues to find her," said Leena Oraon, who is known as a witch doctor in Aragate village and who says she studies rice grains to ascertain the presence of a witch in the village. "Today's doctors cannot cure ailments that are caused by a witch's curse. That is why people come to me."


In a case three years ago in Lalganj village, an elderly woman, Baili Kashyap, was branded a witch for supposedly causing sickness in the family of a relative. The relatives, who allegedly were engaged in a land dispute with her, tied her to a tree and slit her throat with a sickle while others in the village watched. Six men are in prison for the murder.


"My mother-in-law was not a witch. They were after our land. But the entire village just stood and watched the murder," said Kashyap's daughter-in-law, Reena, 28. "They believed she was a witch and deserved to die."


According to a study by the Free Legal Aid Committee, an advocacy group that works against witch-hunting, only 2 percent of people charged with witch-hunting are convicted in court.


"People go scot-free because witnesses are hard to come by. Villagers often approve of the torture meted out to these women," said Girija Shankar Jaiswal, a lawyer who heads the organization. "They think witch-hunting is a heroic act and that it will clean the society of evil."


Only two Indian states, Jharkhand and Bihar, have outlawed witch-hunting. Last year, one of India's northeastern states, Tripura, conducted a discussion in the legislative assembly about the need to ban the practice of witch-hunting. After a day-long debate, the assembly unanimously decided that killing of people for practicing witchcraft should be prevented.


However, members failed to reach a consensus on whether witchcraft was a science or superstition.




Couple killed for practising witchcraft in Jharkhand


Ranchi (IANS)| July 02, 2007: An old couple were killed in Jharkhand for allegedly practicing black magic, police officials said.


Tanekta Bhokta, 60, and his wife Ashamani, 55, were residents of Beti village under Pithoria block, about 40 km from Ranchi.


Police officials said Monday that the couple's neighbour Deodhari Bhokta and his brother Surendra Bhokta dragged them out of their house Sunday. The brothers tied the old couple to a tree and beat them to death with sticks. The men then hacked the dead bodies with sharp edged weapons and chopped off the hands and legs.


Later, they informed other villagers about the crime that they had committed and surrendered before the police.


However, the brothers do not regret having killed the couple. "The couple were practising black magic and due to impact of their black magic our family members were falling ill. We have no remorse," said Surendera Bhokta.


The couple are survived by their two daughters. One of them, Rupanti Kumari, 19, said: "We tried to save our parents but they did not show any mercy. Not a single villager turned up to help us".


Killing people suspected of practising black magic is common in Jharkhand. In the past 10 years, more than 600 persons, mostly women, have been killed in Jharkhand after they were branded witches. 




Man sacrifices sons in Jharkhand


Ranchi (IANS) | January 10, 2007: In a strange incident of child sacrifice, a man in Jharkhand sacrificed two of his sons Wednesday in search of spiritual powers, police said.

Jeetan Munda, a resident of Barki village in Hazaribagh district, is a sorcerer by profession, escaped after sacrificing his sons with the help of an aide, police said.


The younger son died on the spot, while the elder son sustained serious injuries and he was admitted to a local hospital. His condition is said to be serious.


Police have recovered materials like vermilion, mustard oil and clothes, which suggest that Munda had worshipped the god before sacrificing his sons.


Witchcraft and occult practices are common in Jharkhand.


More than 20 persons have been sacrificed in the state recently in the name of appeasing god.





Three of a family killed for practising witchcraft


June 28th, 2008 by IANS - Three members of a family were beaten to death in a Jharkhand village after being accused of practising witchcraft, police said Saturday. The incident occurred late Friday night in Torpa block of Khuti district, around 90 km from Ranchi.


Police identified the victims as Ghuchara Pahan, his son Kisun and daughter-in-law Mukta.


The villagers had convened a panchayat meeting Friday night and summoned the trio, who were asked to stop practicing black magic as this was causing suffering to the villagers.


Ghuchara and Kisun had a verbal altercation with the villagers, after which they ran into their hut. The villagers dragged them out and started beating them with bamboo sticks and irons rods, killing all three on the spot. The villagers later informed the police about the incident.


The police reached the village Saturday and took the bodies away. The villagers involved in the killing are absconding.


Over 700 people, mostly women, have been killed over the past few years in Jharkhand after being branded as witches.




Chhattisgarh police arrest 22 for assaulting 50 women


December 23rd 2008 Raipur (IANS) - Twenty two men have been arrested in Chhattisgarh for assaulting about 50 women and branding them witches, a senior official said Tuesday. According to reports, a nine day "purification ceremony" was organised by about 200 villagers on the advice of a local leader at Dhodhakesra village in Surguja district, about 400 km north of Raipur.


During the "ceremony", about 50 women were branded witches and they were forced to get a haircut "to free them from impact of evil spirits". The women were also beaten in public. The "ceremony" ended Dec 19.


"Police will not tolerate such an act; 22 men have been arrested under the stringent Chhattisgarh Witchcraft (Prevention) Act that makes crimes against women in name of witches a non-bailable offence," senior police officer Radheshyam Nayak told IANS.


He said the probe is on and villagers are being interrogated, adding that more arrests are likely.


Chief Minister Raman Singh has taken a serious view of the incident and termed it "most inhuman, unfortunate and shameful". He has asked police chief Vishwaranjan to thoroughly investigate the case and ensure tough punishment to culprits.


With a rising number of cases against women in the name of witchcraft, the state government enacted a Witchcraft (Prevention) Act in 2005. Those convicted under the act can be jailed for upto five years.




Teenager lynched in West Bengal on suspicion of being a witch


Kolkata, Nov 23 (IANS) A 16-year-old girl was beaten to death by villagers in West Bengal's South 24 Parganas district, who accused her of practising witchcraft and entrancing the son of her former employer to marry her, the police said. "Tulu Dolui, 16, was dragged out of her hut in Ghoramara village around 11.30 p.m. by at least eight people, who then tied her to a tree and beat her with sticks for over three hours," an official at Sagore police station told reporters.


He said police intervened to rescue the girl, but she succumbed to her injuries on way to the local health centre. She had sustained serious head, abdominal, chest and back injuries.


The official said the villagers alleged that Dolui was a witch and had hypnotised the son of a rich grocer's son, who decided to marry her against his parents' wishes. She was working there as a maid servant until the grocer came to know of the relationship and sacked her.


No one has been arrested so far in this incident, he said.





Jharkhand tribes facing Malaria deaths


November 12th, 2008 by ANI - Kuramu (Pallamu) Jharkhand, Nov.12 (ANI): Widespread ignorance, dependency on exorcism and witchcraft among tribes in Jharkhands Palamu district have become a major problem for people struggling against Malaria here.


Malaria has claimed over 24 lives and affected hundreds of others in Kuramu village under Chandwa Block of Latehar Division of States Palamu district.


"My grandson was already suffering from fever. We called the exorcists and even witch doctors, but nothing could help. He died on the Diwali night. Later my granddaughter also fell ill and we have taken her to Primary Healthcare Centre at Chandwa," said Ram Chandra, a local resident.


Marshy lands, water logging and unhygienic conditions in this region have become a haven for mosquitoes to breed and spread dreaded filaria, malaria and dengue, further the situation is compounded by apathetic attitude of the State administration.


Nine persons belonging to the Lohra and Ganjhu tribes have reportedly succumbed to the disease in the last week alone.


Another factor that let the spread of the disease has been the isolated location of these affected areas with no concerned officials turning up for inspection.


"We know that this place is a remote place, and it''s not really accessible by general public. But still the way administration has delayed the matter and this is something very much unjustified," said Boidya Nath Ram, a former legislator of Chandwa area.


Hundreds of hapless villagers are compelled to endure the dreaded malaria while those responsible in the administration appear to have just woken up from slumber.

Doctor and para-medical staff of Primary Health Centre at Chandwa, however, blame the inaccessible roads and remote location for the delay in providing help.


"Kuramu is not very accessible, and thus, treatment in this area has been bit delayed. But we are trying our level-best to treat as many people as possible. Hopefully, things will get better soon," said Dr. R R Prasad, Medical Officer at the Primary Health Centre, Chandwa. (ANI)





Youth killed in witchcraft related violence


Raipur, May 21 (IANS) Eight people have been arrested in Chhattisgarh's industrial city Bhilai after a young man was killed in group clashes over a dispute over witchcraft. Police said two groups clashed Monday night at Sector 11 in Bhilai, about 30 km from here, after some people attacked a woman's house blaming her for the death of a boy.


This led to the group clash in which a 22-year-old man, S. Gopi, suffered severe head injuries and died later, said Additional Superintendent of Police Prashant Thakur.


Chhattisgarh is infamous for witchcraft related violence.




Dalit woman branded witch in Bihar, beaten up


Patna, March 28 2008 (IANS) A middle-aged Dalit woman was brutally thrashed and her hair cut off for allegedly practising witchcraft in a Bihar village, barely 20 km from the state capital, Patna, the police said Friday. The police lodged a first information report and arrested six people, including prime accused Ramayodhya Rai.


The woman, Lalpari, in her 40s, is a resident of Naubatpur village nearPatna. The police said the people suspected she practised witchcraft in the neighbouring Adalchak-Dumaria village, near Maner in the outskirts of Patna.


"She was first tied to a palm tree with a rope, then thrashed and her hair was cut off and burnt in front of a crowd of villagers Thursday," a senior police officer said.


The incident created an uproar in the state assembly Friday and an opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal legislator and a minister in the erstwhile Rabri Devi government, Shyam Razak alleged that women were not safe under the present regime.


"Women were being tortured by feudal forces," Razak said while his party members raised anti-government slogans. The opposition demanded stern action against the guilty.


The police said Lalpari had gone to Adalchak-Dumaria village Thursday to treat a woman, Manorama Rai, who suffers from a mental illness.


As Manorama's condition deteriorated, her husband Ramayodhya Rai lost his temper and accused Lalpari of practising sorcery and inflicting harm on his wife.


He got together some of his friends from the village and paraded Lalpari through the streets. The men tied her to a palm tree, cut off her hair and smeared her head with limestone paste.


Lalpari, however, refuted the charge of practising witchcraft and said she was a healer. When the police were informed about the incident, they rushed to the village and rescued the woman.




16 arrested for burning alive woman in Chhattisgarh


Raipur, March 27 2008 (IANS) Sixteen people including five women have been arrested for allegedly burning alive a 40-yr-old tribal woman in Korea district of Chhattisgarh after beating her for hours with hot iron rods, a police officer said Thursday. "The woman, who belonged to the Gond tribe, was beaten for hours with hot iron rods before being set on fire in the presence of dozens of villagers. They accused her of witchcraft and claimed she was responsible for the recent deaths of three children in the village," A.M. Juri, district superintendent of police, told IANS.

The woman called Phulkanwar was killed Sunday in Dholpur village, about 500 km north of here. A case was registered Wednesday when her husband Harilal Singh reported the tragedy to the police.


"We have strong evidence against 17 people and 16 of them have been arrested. The one person who is absconding will also be arrested soon," Juri said.


Besides murder, the 17 have been charged under the stringent Chhattisgarh Witchcraft (Prevention) Act, 2005.


Crimes against women accused of witchcraft are common in Chhattisgarh's northern and southern regions. 




Man enters police station with severed head


Jamshedpur, Apr 20 2008 (PTI) In a ghastly incident, a woman was beheaded on suspicion of practising witchcraft by a tribal who later walked in the police station with the severed head in Ghatsila sub-division of Jharkhand today.


The accused Jairam Hansda held the woman Renti responsible for the death of his brother a few days back and had been looking for a chance to get her, police said.


On finding her alone today, Jairam coaxed the unsuspecting woman to accompany him to a desolate spot next to a paddy field and made her consume alcohol at Musaboni area under Ghatsila sub-division.


Watch this incident in video - http://jharkhandforum.wordpress.com/2009/03/30/jharkhand-forum-adivasi-witchcraft-in-india-the-most-sensational-murder-of-sorcery-suspect/




Tribal Woman in Assam Hacked To Death on Suspicion of 'Witch'


Sinlung / Jan 31 09 Baksa - A 65-year-old Adivasi woman was hacked to death, allegedly by her two brothers, on the suspicion of practising witchcraft in lower Assam's Baksa district.


The decomposed body of Buddha Bala, with cut wounds on her head and neck, was found at her house in labour line quarter of Dumuni tea estate on Friday, police sources said.


Inquiries revealed a group of 20-25 neighbours along with her two brothers came to the woman's house on Tuesday night and forcibly took her away at knife point.


Her body was found near home this morning, the sources said.


Bala's two brothers Jogen Kerketa and Jonathan Kerketa confessed before reporters after their arrest that they had killed their sister on suspicion of her practising witchcraft along with four others.



The dark side of India where a witch-doctor's word means death

Monday, 5 July 2004: The decision was made in the hot jungle night: Bhobesh Pahan and his two adult sons, Nirmal and Bimal, must die. Two weeks ago, the villagers of Poaltore, near the border with Bangladesh, had a meeting to decide what to do about the spate of illness gripping the village. A month before, a two-year-old, Sumon Pahan, no relation, had died of dysentery.

The decision was made in the hot jungle night: Bhobesh Pahan and his two adult sons, Nirmal and Bimal, must die. Two weeks ago, the villagers of Poaltore, near the border with Bangladesh, had a meeting to decide what to do about the spate of illness gripping the village. A month before, a two-year-old, Sumon Pahan, no relation, had died of dysentery.

Several villagers had viral fever. The village witch doctor said the cause was simple. The 65-year-old Bhobesh Pahan and his sons were witches, and had placed a curse on the villagers.

The jungle is never far in the villages here. The banana leaves and creepers are so thick you cannot see through them, even by daylight. There are spiders bigger than a man's hand, and some of the world's most poisonous snakes. At night, the villagers hear the sounds of leopards in the undergrowth.

The witch-doctor is said to have told the people the only way to rid themselves of the curse that was making them sick was to kill the witches. Bhobesh Pahan and his sons were condemned to death. The villagers agreed to kill them.

But, by a rare stroke of fortune, the Pahans were saved. The police were tipped off that there was about to be a witch-killing. The officers raided in force and rescued the men. Since then, there have been intensive police patrols in the village to prevent violence.

This incident, just two weeks ago, has cast renewed scrutiny on a darker side of India. The country is at the forefront of the cyber-revolution, the home of the world's biggest film industry, and a place where more and more business is being outsourced from Britain. But if India is changing fast, the more remote parts of the country are being left behind. Witch-killing is still an everyday part of life here. And not all the victims are as lucky as the Pahans.

They came for Sanseriya Oraow on a humid monsoon Sunday. Her neighbours dragged the middle-aged mother from her house and hammered a nail through her skull into her brain. Then, while she was still alive but in desperate pain, they sewed her up in a sack and dumped her in the nearby Murti river. Two days later, the police recovered her body.

The neighbours dragged four other middle-aged women from their homes that day. Each one suffered similar treatment, nails being hammered into her head, then, in her confusion and agony, being sewn into a sack and dumped in the river to die. This was the most notorious case of recent times. The local witch doctor had proclaimed the women witches after a run of illness among the people.

The place where it happened, Kilkott tea garden, seems an unlikely setting for such stuff of nightmares. This is a plantation set up by the British in colonial times, and is famed for the quality of its tea. On the mountainsides nearby are the great tea gardens of Darjeeling.

Kilkott is in stark contrast, surrounded by encroaching jungle. At the head planter's bungalow, the managers sit in wicker chairs on a vast, white verandah, gazing over manicured lawns and flower-beds that look straight out of Surrey, shielded by an elaborate iron screen from the monsoon deluge hammering into the garden. In a curious throwback to the colonial era, the managers of the tea estates dress in old-fashioned, tight English shorts that would be considered risqué in polite Indian society and seem ill-advised in a region ridden with malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

In another notorious case, across the border in Bihar state in 2000, Manikul Gopai survived only because her family fought to the death to defend her after she was named as a witch by a medicine man and 10 men attacked her house. Her husband was hacked to death by the attackers as he tried to guard the door. Her son's arm was sliced open, but he managed to escape and get to the police to beg for help with his dying breath. They arrived armed to the teeth and just in time to rescue Ms Gopai. She had been seriously wounded with a sword- blow to the forehead.

Activists believe there may be up to 100 cases a year in India. In May, Dituben Singhod was hacked to death with a scythe and an axe by two men who accused her of being a witch and putting a spell on their niece, who had died of illness. That was in Vadodara, hundreds of miles from here.

But tea plantations founded by the British are the focal point of anti-witch activities. Between 1992 and 1998, the most recent period for which figures are available, 1,403 people were killed as alleged "witches" on the plantations. The reason, says Sundeep Mukherjee of the Indian Tea Association, also dates from colonial times. When the British planted tea in India, finding local labourers prepared to do what was seen as the menial work of laboriously picking leaves from the bushes by hand was difficult.

So the British imported workers called Adivasis, people still living in tribal society at the time in the jungles of neighbouring Bihar, and offered them a new life. Free accommodation on the tea estates, and a job not only for life, but for at least one child after their deaths. To this day, most of the workers on the estates are still Adivasis, and they still enjoy the deal made with the British.

Mr Mukherjee is a retired Indian army officer, immaculately dressed and with perfect English. At one point, he suggests a trip to a neighbouring village where a rogue elephant is on the rampage, "just for the adventure of it".

He says: "The witch-hunting [is caused by] ignorance, because they are so steeped in superstition. First, most of the tribals are illiterate. They are so engrossed in their superstition that, although qualified doctors are provided for them, it's so deep-seated that they still go to their witch-doctors."

The Indian Tea Association has been trying to stamp out the witch-hunting phenomenon by pushing for better education in the plantations, and for initiatives such as plays to encourage adults to go to real doctors instead of witch-doctors. Although some Adivasis still practise animism, most have become Hindus or Christians. But primitive beliefs are still deep.

Several types of poisonous snakes roam the jungle, including the deadly king cobra. Most Adivasis who are bitten still go to the witch-doctors, who are believed to be able to draw out the poison with a mixture of herbs applied to the skin.

The medicine men also try to cure other illnesses with mantras. When the witch-doctor fails to cure an illness, Mr Mukherjee says, he faces the wrath of the family, so he claims the sickness has been caused by a witch, and names one of the local labourers, usually a middle-aged or elderly woman, often unmarried or widowed. The only cure is believed to be to kill the witch.

In an effort to stamp this out, the plantations are required by law to provide free medical care for workers, and doctors and hospitals are all available nearby. But many workers still prefer the witch-doctors.

"The witch-doctors are themselves illiterate, and are pawns in the hands of rival groups, used to settle scores among them," Mr Mukherjee says. There have been cases in which one side in a land dispute is believed to have persuaded the witch-doctor to name his rival as a witch to get him off the scene.

"Pointing out of 'witches' is an offence under Indian law, but because of the lack of witnesses, the witch-doctors invariably go free," Mr Mukherjee adds.

The Kilkott case is still being investigated, and there is a court case pending. But many of the witnesses are said to have changed their police statements. On the plantation, no one will admit they witnessed the killing. Everyone claims they were somewhere else at the time. Even Sanseriya Oraow's two grown-up sons denied to The Independent that they had seen anything.

"I was in the fields when it happened," Somra Oraow says. "When I got back I saw my mother's dead body." But when questioned about the condition of the body, he quickly changed his story. "I didn't see the body," he says. "I didn't see anything." Something has the labourers of Kilkott deeply scared. But whether it is fear of the police, the witch-doctors, or reprisals from the guilty labourers, is impossible to tell.

On the plantations it is not hard to understand why the labourers still believe in witchcraft. The night is pitch-dark here, there is no light for miles, and if you find yourself out on the plantations after dark you are alone amid the impenetrable darkness and the incessant sound of the surrounding jungle. Anyone can start believing in witchcraft under such conditions.

The labourers live by the sun. They get up at dawn to start work, and got bed soon after dark falls. They live on the "lines", rows of wood-and-mud houses with little gardens full of chickens and goats. Compared to the slums of India's city, these artificial villages don't seem that bad; there is space and everybody has a roof over his head. But the jungle begins where the "lines" end, at the end of the street, and leopards have been known to come in at night to kill the chickens and goats.

We found a witch-doctor on the tea plantation at Gandrapara tea garden. His name was Ashok Goaala, a slight man with deep-set, dark eyes. He seemed more frightened than intimidating, and was dressed in Western clothes, a tatty shirt and trousers.

"I possess my power from God," he says. "I can cure sicknesses. For snakebites, I put herbs next to the bite and then I recite a mantra. People come from as far away as Assam and Nepal to see me. My great-grandfather was a witch-doctor."

When asked if he believed in witches, his reply made the skin prickle: "As far as I know, there are witches in the lines here," he says. The manager of the plantation, who was standing nearby, looked shocked, but Mr Goaala added: "I don't publicise this or point it out. I don't believe in witch-hunting. I am capable of handling it myself."

The management of the tea plantations is often as reticent about the incidents as the labourers. At the Gairkata tea garden, where a woman was beaten to death last year as an alleged "witch", the management claimed there were "no official records" of witch-killings. All over the tea gardens, you get the same answer: yes, it happens, but not here.

A visit to the local police station shows the difficulties police are working under. There is no air-conditioning, despite the damp jungle heat. Officers sit sweating and mopping their brows, cradling the military rifles they need to patrol India's lawless rural areas. There are separatist militants here, some roads are not safe to travel at night.

"We'd like you to do an article," Sub-Inspector Nirmo Yonzhan, the senior officer, says. "We want more exposure for the witch-hunting, we want to stop it." But producing his files on witch-killing is no easy task. The station has no computers, just thousands of dusty documents that would have to be laboriously sifted through. It could take days.

There are piles of documents like that about witch-hunting across India, but with so few witnesses prepared to testify against the killers, and traditional societies resisting efforts to wean them off the witch-doctors, they may just keep piling up.





Witchcraft in Assam school curricula?

The National Commission for Women (NCW) has mooted introduction of a subject relating to 'dayan pratha' or witchcraft in the syllabus of primary education in Assam to eradicate the growing menace.

Neeva Konwar, member of the National Women Commission, said witch-hunting, like an infectious disease, was slowly spreading to newer areas and solutions would have to be found to eradicate the evil practice.

"The idea behind introducing dayan pratha in primary schools is to bring about awareness from an early age to do away with the primitive practice of witch-hunting based on superstitious beliefs," said Konwar.

Mridula Saharia , chairperson of the Assam State Women Commission, stressed the need for better medical facilities and mass awareness in remote rural areas to eradicate the evil practice. She said women cell should be activated at panchayat and district-level to tackle the evil.

The practice of witch-hunting is prevalent among some tribal communities in the state. These include Bodos, Ravas and the greater Adivasi community.

The Assam government had already adopted multi pronged strategy to combat witch-hunting. The Assam police have also intensified their drive to curb this problem. Codenamed 'Project Prahari', the crusade includes community policing measures, besides regular awareness campaigns, among tribal chiefs and village elders.

The police campaign is now focusing on educating villagers and holding meetings in areas dominated by tribal people.


Indian 'witchcraft' family beheaded


A family of five has been beheaded in Sonitpur district, north-east India, by a mob who accused them of witchcraft.

The tea plantation worker and his four children had been blamed for causing a disease which killed two other workers and made many unwell in Assam state.

About 200 villagers tried and sentenced the family in an unofficial court, then publicly beheaded them with machetes.

They then marched to a police station with the heads, chanting slogans denouncing witchcraft and black magic.

'Pregnant wife fled'

The incident occurred at the Sadharu tea plantation near the town of Biswanath Charali, about 300 km (190 miles) north of Guwahati, Assam's main city.

Sixty-year-old Amir Munda, who was killed alongside his two daughters and two sons, was reportedly a traditional healer.

After two plantation workers died and many others became ill from mysterious illness, other members of the Adivasi Santhal community accused him and his family of being the cause.

"A trial was held to prove if Munda and his family were involved in casting evil spells in the tea garden that led to a bout of epidemics in the area," police officer D Das said. "They said the killings would appease the gods.

"Munda's pregnant wife and her three young children managed to escape before the mob killed the other members of the family," A Hazarika, a local police official, told AFP.

Six people were arrested for the killings, Mr Hazarika said.

According to police records, some 200 people have been killed in Assam in the past five years for allegedly practicing witchcraft.

Source: BBC News http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4822750.stm




Witch' family buried alive


Guwahati, 11 Jun 2008 | Telegraph: Four members of a family were stoned and buried alive in a village in Upper Assam's Sonitpur district last night after a kangaroo court found them guilty of practising witchcraft and sentenced them to death.


The victims — Lakhan Majhi, 65, his wife Sumoni, 60, son Durga, 45, and daughter-in law Sabitri, 35 — incurred the wrath of villagers in Koilajuli Milanpur after a 21-year-old youth, Gobinda, died on Saturday.


Sonitpur superintendent of police Munna Prasad Gupta said Gobinda had died after prolonged illness, but the villagers held Lakhan, who used to regularly perform puja at Gobinda's residence, responsible for his death.


The villagers summoned the Majhis to village headman Bhutkori Majhi's house for a public hearing last night.


"The entire village was present at Bhutkori's house. The elders charged the Majhis with casting evil spells on Gobinda that resulted in his death," an officer at Biswanath Chariali police station, under which the village falls, said.


The villagers then stoned the four and buried them in a nearby jungle while they were still breathing.


When police reached the village this morning to exhume the bodies, all the males of the village had fled.


"We interrogated a few women who said the men of the village had crushed the victims' heads with bricks and stones and buried them even before they died," the officer said. He added that the headman was the main accused and the police were looking for him.


This is the second time that alleged witches have been murdered in Biswanath Chariali in the past two years.


On March 18, 2006, five members of a family were beheaded by a mob at Sadharu tea estate in the heart of Biswanath Chariali. The mob then marched to a police station with the heads, chanting slogans against witchcraft and black magic.


Amir Munda, 60, his two sons and two daughters were beheaded after a mysterious ailment struck the labour lines.


Two garden workers died while several others were afflicted by the disease.


Soon, the community's suspicions fell on Munda.


The labourers called a meeting, to which Munda was also invited. When he fled with his family, their suspicion turned to conviction.


Munda's pursuers caught him and held a kangaroo court. When Munda denied practising witchcraft, he was beaten until he "confessed" his entire family's involvement in occult practices. The court sentenced them to death.


According to police records, over 200 people have been killed in Assam in the past seven years for allegedly practising witchcraft.


Assam police have launched campaigns in Sonitpur and Lower Assam's Kokrajhar district to educate people against witch-hunts.

The dream of e-governance in districts of drought, hunger, poverty and starvation

 Jharkhand  Blog   





The dream of e-governance in districts of drought, hunger, poverty and starvation   


Palamu  commissionerate  in  the state of Jharkhand consisting  of  districts  of  Palamau, Garwah  and  Latehar  are  better  known  for  their  alarming  poverty  levels, drought, hunger  and starvation  in  extreme times resulting  In  deaths,  absentee  governance,   highest  levels   of  corruption, punishment  transfers  In  terms  of the  community  getting  notorious  and  corrupt  officials,  equally  corrupt political  parties and  its  leaders.   It  is  unfortunate  but  many  civil  society organisations are  not  far   behind  them  and  most  of the  development  programs in  the  region are given to  agencies who  can  tread  the  same   path of  corruption.   Thus this region is steeped in deep corruption.    As   there  are  frequent  droughts in  the  region,  there  is  always  speculation  and  declaration  of  drought  is greatly   looked  forward  as   the natural   calamity   brings  about  bounty  In  terms   of  programs  and  resources  .   



The  poor   are  steeped  in  extreme  illiteracy  and  their  prime  concern  is  survival  of  self  and  their  families.  They  consider  the   poor governance  and  maladministration  as  their  fate  and hence  in the  absence  of  any opposition  there is  uninterrupted  looting  of  the  resources  meant  for  the  poor.  In the  absence  of  able  leadership  that  works  for  the   people's  cause  the  different  political  parties  are  at  a  collision  course .    Incidentally  this region was  earlier  steeped  in  feudalism  the  traces  of  which  are   still  existing  to  till  date.    Large  tracts  of  land   called   Gair  Mazrua  land  also  was  usurped  by  the  landlords.   The   mean  existence  of  the  poor  at  the  behest  of  collection  of  mahua  fruit  and  flowers  -  these  resources  -  the  trees  also  were  under   landlord's  control.   The  other  attributes  of feudalism  are  creation  of   bonded  labour,   child  labour,  using   the  entire  family  force  of  the  dalits  for  domestic, agricultural  and  cattle  rearing  and  grazing .    The   dalit  women  being  subjected  to  sexual  harassment  were  common   features  of  the  region.


Independence,  land ceiling  act, abolition  of zamindari    system,    peasant   revolution   brought  about  some  cosmetic  and  some deep  rooted  changes.   The   extreme  left   ideology   took  deep  roots  in  the  region  as  all  the  ills of  the  class ,caste divide  of  the  society  were  found  in  the  region .    Majority  of  the   landlords  sold  their  lands  or  leased  their  lands  and  shifted  their  base  to  escape  the violence  and  life  threats  from  the  extreme  left   ideology  groups.   They   took up a new avatar in the form of contractors. 



The  contractors,  corrupt officials  both  civil  and  police ,  political  groups   forms   core  nexus  .    This  nexus   eats   into  almost  80%  of  the  resources  allotted  for  the  poor.   The  forest resources  such  as  kendu  patta  generate  huge  resources  for  the  contractors.    But  they  give  "protection  money"  or  "levy " to  various  sources  which  includes  the  extreme  groups .   In   the  similar  manner  for  execution  of  any  development  works  in  the  region  the  kickbacks  to  the  various  levels   is   included  In  the  estimation  itself  and  an  inflated  estimation  is  made.   Thus   most  of  the  works  are incomplete  or  it is   of  most  poor  quality  .    It  is  observed  that   in  the  name  of  drought  relief  umpteen  times   irrigation  structures  of  various  hue  and  cry  are  announced.  And  if  really  executed  then  there  would  be  no  more  ground  available  in   the region  for  execution  of  watershed  works.   During each drought relief work some cosmetic work in the same structures take place and it is shown as new work. 



It  if  difficult  for  any  outside  person  to  understand  the  complex  failures  of  systems  and paralysed programs in  the  region.  The  education, health, agricultural, banking ,  the  government  and  name  any  system  all  are  paralysed.  

Though  so  much  hype  is  created  In  the  media  and  the  government  circles  on  NREGA .  It is a non-starter or total failure in   the region.   Recently  we  had  a  rapid  assessment  of  the  ground  level  realities  on  NREGA.     There  is  no  need  to  conduct  any  social  audit  on  the  system.  Because  already  it  is  known  that  all  the  documents  are  fake  and  built  up.    In  the  entire  year  only  5—7  days  and  in  some  places  14  days  of work has  been  carried  out under this  scheme.  But  the  entries  in  the   job   cards  shows  56,60  and  even  100  days  of  employment  given  to  them.  

 Even in this  scheme  touts  are  fully engaged  as link  person  between  the  community  of  the  poor  and  the  government.   The  illiteracy  , ignorance  and helplessness of  the  poor  is  brought   to  full  utility .     The  people's  testimony  and  their  job  card entries  are  enough  to estimate  the  extreme  levels  of corruption  In  the  region.     No  doubt  the  lives  of  the  activists  taking  up  such  complex  issues   are   always  under  the  threat.     Further the voices are muffled   and muted by the authoritarian administration.




Rita Devi, Sanju Devi, Gaura Devi, Sunil Paswan, Akileshwar bhuiya and countless more people all hailing from Palamu region have common problem.    They have all obtained the job cards.  But in the last one year they were provided work ranging from 7 days to 14 days and no more. What is more startling is that they never understood that their job cards show that employment of 54 to 100 days has been marked for them by the touts.  When this was brought to their notice they were furious and helpless.  They all want to catch hold of the contractor who is managing their job cards and take them to task.  But in the existing system only these contractors are their link with the government officials and hence cannot also do away without them and are in dilemma as to what is to be done? 


The SHG women groups in one of the tribal villages have taken tender for laying the roads.  It is a huge tender nearing 14 lakhs of rupees.  The tender was for laying a stretch of 3k.m. road. The first stretch of 1 km was laid by the women group and their family members and members of the village community at a cost of Rs.2 lakhs.  But the average estimate of 1 km works out to be Rs4.60 lakhs .  The women groups members are aware that they need to "manage" the accounts  and the major money will go to the different levels of officials  and inspite of that they will be able to make better margins out of such contracts.

The school   teachers need not attend the schools.   It  is  enough  if  they  provide  money  to  the  school  inspectors  .   In  some places  the  teachers  are  generous  enough  to  appoint  local volunteers  to  take  classes at  very  low  costs.    The   emoluments of  the  teachers  are rotated  for  money  lending  to   the  villagers  at very high  cost .  Further  the  teachers  are at liberty  to  continue  their  domestic  chores and agricultural  works  unabated.    While  at  the  residential  schools for  the  girl children  the  families  of  the  teachers   are    well   taken   care  at  the  cost  of  food   deprivation  of  the  girl  children. 

The health care is in shambles.  The  life of the  poor  is not  valuable  and  in the absence of  appropriate  and  minimum medical care  the  poor  are  forced to fully  depend  on the quacks  locally called "Jholachap doctors".Most  of them  have  either  worked  under some doctor for short  period  or  have  just  learnt  the art  of  providing medication and made it as their means of livelihood.  Malaria and diarrhoea are the most common ailments and there are many times deaths due to these preventable and treatable diseases.  Due to lack of transport  the villagers  bring  the  patients  by  carrying the cot  and  walking  a distance of 16-20 kms.     This is the stark reality in the region.

As the poor's livelihood is totally dependent on agriculture, they necessarily have to migrate enmasse with family at least for 3-4 months in a year to the neighbouring Bihar or to far off places like Punjab for their mean survival.   As there is no organised system of labour migration, they go through contractors or based on their earlier rapport built.  There have been several instances of fatal accidents as they try to travel in every means of available transport on the goods vehicles and top of the trains. 


Very  recently  5 men  from this Lesliganj region went to UP for agricultural labour but found  the  owner was too demanding and tried to escape from him as they were almost living in captive condition.  They started running towards the railway station on the railway tracks.  While they were trying to cross the bridge a train was approaching and had no option  and three of them jumped into the river and lost their lives instantly.  Two of them tried to hang o n to  the rails and have their fingers badly mutilated.  The fact that many times such deaths  are hushed up as they are afraid of the lengthy police cases.  Migration is a means for their survival.  In the absence of any kind of constructive intervention from the government the people are forced to devise their own means of livelihood and thus migration has become the way of life for the poor in the region.


As far as agriculture is concerned, it is the experience and the expertise of the farmer and the entrepreneurship of the seeds and fertiliser dealer which takes ahead the agriculture. It is untouched by any kind of intervention from the experts.  The scientists are in their ivory towers and their expertise never reaches the common farmer.  There is no advice for the drought resistant crops and which to be used in   which season.  Each year when the monsoon starts the entire farmer sow the seeds.  As it is totally rain fed agriculture, they wait for rains during  the  " Hatia Nakshatra"  which falls in  the  Hindi  calendar  month of  "Ashwin" and  in  English  calendar  is  it  around  September  -  October.  If the rain fails in   this period of 15-20 days then the farmers are aware that all their crops will wither and they cannot go for the next Rabi crop as well.  Thus they mentally prepare themselves and make plans for migration for their survival. This is also indication of the upcoming drought in the region. There is no meteorological forecasting but it is indigenous knowledge and expertise of the local farming community which determines their immediate future in relation to assured livelihood or there is need for migration.


The so called food security schemes   are in total disarray. Primarily  the  BPL  number   and  card  is  the  poor's passport  to  social security entitlements of the  government.   To enable the poor get this entitlement itself is a big hurdle.  But  having  the  BPL  card  is  no  assurance  that  they  will be  able  to get  hold  of  the  social  security  measures. 


Manoj Bhuiya of Bakasi village is a daily wage labourer.   He lives with his wife and 9 children.   He  has been  allotted  the  Antyodaya  card  -  which  is  the  food  security  scheme  for the poorest among the  poor in the  village.    While  going   through  his card  we can  find out  that  for  the  current  year  all the  10months  are  ticked  showing that  he  got  his ration entitlements of  35  kg's of rice  at  Rs.2  per  kilo.  But while  discussing with him ,we  understand  that  so  far he has  received  the  rations only  thrice  but  records show  that he  has been issued the  rations  for 10 months. In spite  of  various  ills  the  administration  thinks  it  is  a  blot  on  its image  to  accept  the  fact  of  starvation deaths  in  the  region.  It  bends  back   to  declare  that  the  deaths  are due  to  " disease"  and  denying the  facts that  disease  at  the  first place  has   been  manifestation  of  cyclic  hunger,  consumption  of  forest roots ,ill health   and  ultimate  death.     As  if  the  government  is  not  responsible  for deaths  due  to  ill  health  ???   


In this scenario  the  central  government  envisaged e-governance  has been   planned and  brought  in this region  also.  Common Service   Centres  (CSC)  is   one of   the  policies  of  Central   Government  of India  -  Ministry  of   Information  Technology(IT)  to    launch  1  lakh  centres   covering  all  the  rural  panchayats  of  India.     A  public  private   partnership  initiative was  mooted  and  tenders  were  called   for   by  different  states  in  India.   Jharkhand   though   lags   behind  on  all   the  development  parameters  surprisingly  was  one  of  the  first  state to  launch  this  program  in  the  country  which many are  unaware.

One of  the  main  planks  of  CSC  is  to  bring about   transparency,   accountability  and  good  governance  at  the  grassroots  level.   All   the   common  certificates which the  citizens  require  from  time  to  time  for  various  purposes  are  to  be  made  available  at  the  panchayat  level  itself through  the  CSC  centres   which  would  be  linked  with the Government  of  Jharkhand  portal  at  Ranchi.  Apart   from  this  the  CSC would  be  nodal  point  for  services  related  to education,health,agriculture  and   any  other  commercial  services.

CSC centres is a luxury in the state of Jharkhand which is second last state in the ladder of development next only to its parent state of Bihar with 50% of the population living below the poverty line.

The creamy layer among the poorest is only the stakeholder who come forward with lot of hesitation to take up the csc centers.


The  establishment of  csc centres amidst lack of  basic amenities  such as roads, electricity, telephone and internet connectivity, official apathy primarily due to lack of awareness and secondly due to fear on loss of "control" over people and resources   and last but not the least the threatening  of the Maoist groups is the ground reality in Jharkhand.

Both Centre and State accepts that establishment of CSC is very difficult in the tough terrain of Jharkhand but only lip service is paid with no pro-action.

The State and Centre retorted back that SCA's have signed agreement knowing the infrastructure lacunae in the regions and hence should not complaint now.     Are the SCA's supposed to establish the infrastructure required prior to establishment of CSC's in the region??

Financial inclusion is a buzz word and bankers are just not inclined to render any financial assistance in terms of loans for the CSC's.  They have been playing passing the ball game successfully for the last one year.  There is rampant corruption at the banking level as well. When you talk to any villager, they tell you the prevailing rates of commission for obtaining any loan.  Sudama Singh said that  for obtaining the  Kisan  credit  cards the  current  rate is  10-15% of the loan  amount,   Beena Devi  said , "revolving  fund for  the women  under the  Swarna  Jayanthi  Rozgar  Yojna (SGSY)  is  20% " and thus  long  list of  existing  rates are available when  we talk to the  villagers.  Thus the  public  sector banks in  the  region  are  also  steeped   into  the  commission culture of the region.   Recent reports also indicate that many of the banks have not rendered loans to even a single BPL family in the past many years and they are categorised as zero lending banks.

Only corporate giants who can amass public wealth are appropriate for establishing the CSC's.  Even the government is interested only in the same.  Be it banking, mobile technology, micro credits such institutional set ups which want to convert csc are as their upfront shops in every nook and corner of the country are the prime players.   Thinking about equal opportunities, enabling the poorest of the poor to participate in the decision making, making them party to the platform of CSC does not seem to happen with so many obstacles strewn around.  CSC is a platform for the rich and the richest and poor has no role in it.

Though CSC can be used as a platform to promote the youth from diverting themselves in joining divisive forces there is no political and administrative will. The government could direct all its energies to utilise the various developmental programs allocated to the states through CSC's.  But as of now only the number games are on, There is a kind of rush and competition between states to show where they stand in terms of CSC.   The State of Jharkhand which is least in all parameters at least in the statistics of CSC is trying to catch the prime slot.   But the ground reality is totally different. 

The   governance is paralysed and proxy rule rules the roost in the region.  As  the  region  is  under  the  proxy  rule  of the  extreme  left  this is  used as major excuse by the  officials for not  performing their duties.     As  development  of  roads and communication  is  considered as threat to the extremists groups  they  make  every  possible  effort   to  sabotage  or  destabilise  the  communication networks. The  continuous blasting  of  the  mobile  towers in the  region  in  the  recent  times is  establishing  the  above  facts.   

There is   lack of phone and internet connectivity.  Even the government established Jharnet at the block level is non-functional.   The  computers   given  to  the  block  offices  are  non-functional  due to absence of electricity and no resources allocated for generators and running expenses and also the human resource crunch of no  trained  personnel   available.   The government owned telecom giant  has  been  given  crores  of  rupees to  set up  Broadband  connectivity  in  all  the  rural  regions. Yet we are struggling with basic connectivity.    Though  the  Rajiv  Gandhi  Rural  Electrification boasts  of  around   1500  crores  grant to  Jharkhand  state  ,  as  yet  the  CSC  centres  are  struggling  without  power  and  are  fully  dependent  on  the  generators  for  the  power.   There is no  proper  pucca  structures  available  everywhere  though  the  government  dictates  to  have  them  placed  in  panchayat  bhavans.  

Thus  the  CSC's in  Jharkhand  are  struggling  for  its basic  existence  among  all  the  odds  and  most   importantly  the  government  apathy.    As  it  is  not  taken  as  an  opportunity  to  establish  and  nurture the  relationship of  partnership.   The approach is more intimidating.   If  Jharkhand  government  expects  the  private  players  will  take  the  entire  risk  of rooting themselves  against  all  odds  I n  the  state  and  it  has  no  role  to play  except passing  orders  then  we  can increase  the  list  of the  failures  among  which  CSC  may  feature  as one of  the prominent  programs.

The major issue which is affecting the functioning of the csc centres is the deep rooted corruption in the region.  The major plank of the program is for transparency and good governance, but again the programs are administered under the same set of inept corrupt officials the program will be tainted in corruption.  The government talks of outsourcing number of its programs to CSC's.  But locally at what cost?  The first program of outsourcing has taken place for Narega Photography program.  Only the Village level Entrepreneurs (VLE's) who were smart enough to strike a deal with the Block Development officers were successful.   The deal being for every photograph of Narega beneficiary a set amount is given to the officials.   This is the beginning….   There are many more programs to follow suit and if the same trend is going to continue then unless and until you are mentally prepared to be "practical" and go along with the existing practices no program will be forthcoming. 

The officials are not sensitised on the benefits of the program.  The majority of the officials are IT illiterate.   Their core concern remains that their power will diminish and their recourse to the speed money will be lost. By pushing the ICT program of CSC under the purview of such officials the sheen of the program is being lost and it is pushed to the brink in the same manner and fate as of other programs.

The biggest challenge will be whether you will be able to wade through the turbulent tides of corruption to enable the CSC's to survive or the community will prepare itself to brace against corruption and fight to its logical end and ensure the CSC's survive, flourish and bring about the required changes.

But  the  failure  of  CSC   will  be  a biggest  loss  to  the  community  especially  the  poor  who will  loose  the  opportunity  of  seeing  good governance  knocking  at  their  doors.   The  youth  who  have  involved  themselves  in  establishing  the  csc's  will have their  dreams  crashed.   We  see  CSC  as  an  last  opportunity  to  ensure  a semblance  of   governance  in   the  region  and that  should  not become  a   lost  opportunity.  Amidst all its backwardness, controversies at least the CSC platform can be utilised by the Jharkhand state to negate its inactiveness in the region.

Before it is too late, the Government of Jharkhand and its officials need to wake up from their deep slumber.  They need to ensure the basic minimum infrastructure is made available to run the CSC centres.  Without internet connectivity, absence of pucca structures, absence of loans to the youth it is difficult to set up CSC centres in the state of Jharkhand.  There is need for a white paper from the Jharkhand government on the programs that are going to be outsourced to the csc centres.  There is need for bringing the different grant-in aid programs to synchronise with the CSC programs so that the youth are not pushed to the brink.








Bahalda | Baisinga | Balliguda | Bangriposhi | Biramitrapur | Bissam-Cuttack | Bonai | Champua | Chitrakonda | Dabugam | Gunupur | Jashipur | KaranjiaKeonjhar | Kesinga | Khariar | Khunta | Kodinga | Kotpad | Kuchinda | Kuliana Laikera | Lakshmipur | Narla | Patna |  Pottangi | Raghunathpali | Rairangpur | Rajgangpur | Ramagiri | Rayagada | Talsara | Telkoi | Udala UdayagiriUmerkote | Ambikapur | Bagicha | Banpuri | Bhanupratappur | Bijapur | Chitrakot | Chowki | Dantewada | Dharamjaigarh | Dondilohara | Jagadalpur | Kanker | Keshkal | Keshloor | Khairagarh | Kondagaon | Konta | Lailunga | Lundra | Manendragarh | Marwahi | Masturi | Pal | Patthalgaon | Pilakha | Premnagar | Rampur | Samari | Sihava | Sitapur | Surajpur | Tanakhar | Tapakara | Badkagaon | Baghmara | Bagodar | Bahragora | Barhait | Barhi | Barkatha | Bermo | Bhawnathpur | Bishnupur | Bokaro | Borio | Chaibasa | Chakradharpur | Chandankiyari | Chhatarpur | Chatra | Daltonganj | Deoghar | Dhanbad | Dhanwar | Dumka | Dumri | Gandeya | Garhwa | Ghatshila | Giridih | Godda | Gomia | Gumla | Hatia | Hazaribag | Hussainabad | Ichagarh | Jagannathpur | Jama | East-Jamshedpur  | West-Jamshedpur | Jamua | Jarmundi | Jharia | Jugsalai | Kanke | Kharsawan | Khijri | Khunti | Koderma | Kolebira |  latehar | Litipara | LohardagaMadhupur | Maheshpur | Mahgama |  Majhgaon | Mandar | Mandu | Manika | Manoharpur | Nala | Nirsa | Pakur | Panki | Poreyahat  | Potka | Rajmahal | Ramgarh | Ranchi | Seraikela | Sarath | Shikaripara | Silli | Simaria | Simdega | Sindri | Sisai | Tamar | Tilaiya  Torpa | Tundi | Vishrampur Balrampur  Banduan  Binpur  Gajol  Habibpur  Kalchini  Kashipur  Kumargram  Madarihat  Mal  Nagrakata  Nayagram  Phansidewa  Raipur  Ranibandh  Tapan  Bhadrachalam  Boath  Burgampahad  Chintapalli  Devarakonda  Khanapur  Kothuru  Mulugu  Naguru  Paderu  Pollavaram  Salur  Srungavarapukota  Yellandu  Yellavaram  Bellary  Challakere  Heggadadevanakote  Jagalur  Kampli  Kudligi  Manvi  Maski  Molakalmur  Raichur  Sandur  Shorapur  Siruguppa  Yemkanmardi 







Jharkhand Online Network

West Bengal
© 2005-10 Jharkhand (India) Network
Jamshedpur, Calcutta, Bhubaneshwar, Raipur
E-mail: handia@jharkhand.org.in Website: handia.jharkhand.org.in