Public Hearing Reveals Many-Sided Difficulties Faced by Victims of Injustice

public hearing

A public hearing on 13 August in Atarra ( Banda district, Uttar Pradesh) provided revealing glimpses of extreme injustices suffered by people in more remote parts of the country and the obstacles placed in the path of getting justice for them by the rich and the powerful. This public hearing was organized by a voluntary organization Vidyadham Samiti (VS) which has won widespread appreciation for its efforts to help many victims of injustice.

Phoola, her son Ramesh, also called Ram Babu, and her daughter belonged to a very poor family of Sadal Singh ka Purva village in Banda district. They went as migrant workers with a contractor to work in Maletha-Majhgavan part of Hamirpur district. Once there, the contractor tried to molest the young girl. Her brother intervened to protect her. However he was beaten so badly that he died. On seeing her brother’s dead body the girl was traumatized very badly and has not yet recovered from the trauma. When she has to speak about her brother, she can fall down or become unconscious. Despite facing such extreme difficulties and tragic situations, Phoola is still fighting for justice. Initially she was asked by the local police to go away without even without registering her FIR but after the public hearing senior police officers have sought information on this tragedy from VS hopefully for providing justice to victims.

Gulab Rajput came walking with difficulty on crutches to tell about equally tragic case at this public hearing. His son Vikas was in love with a girl but the girl’s family was not in the favor of this match. Her male family members or their associates arranged to kill both the girl and the boy and then hanged their dead bodies on a tree, Gulab alleged. This he said was supported by the postmortem report and all evidence was strongly in favor of murder and not suicide. There was a strong likelihood of this being an honor killing. As Gulab was going around seeking justice, he was injured badly in an accident and there was strong suggestion of this actually being an attempt to kill him or at least disable him badly so that he cannot pursue justice. Despite his injuries Gulab came to the hearing and made a strong and passionate plea for justice which attracted much attention and sympathy.

Rajkamal said that he was part of a group of workers who had gone to Pune to work as head-loaders but they were badly exploited, kept in confined conditions and finally had to somehow escape without getting their dues for the work done. Jaipal, another migrant worker whose hand was very badly injured when he was working in a factory in Haryana, said that he could not get any compensation despite fighting a long case.

Shyama from Macha village said that in a dispute with close relatives her family members have been endlessly harassed, beaten and implicated in false cases just because their rival is well connected with a police officer. Sandeep, a youth, said that he tried to save the land meant for a school from encroachers in Baraichha village but for this he has been implicated in all sorts of cases making his life extremely difficult.

An activist known for fighting corruption Vijay Bahadulr told about his struggles for exposing large-scale corruption in Atarra Gramin Panchayat by two officials, including a glaring case of an official transferring government funds to his own account, but this has not resulted yet in actions being taken against the corrupt persons while those who are fighting corruption are experiencing harassment.

While most of these cases related at this public hearing involved injustice suffered by the poor, some cases also involved  better-off and educated persons who had become the victims of arbitrary actions taken by some of the locally most powerful persons.

Panelists which included lawyers known for helping the poor suggested several helpful remedial actions for the various cases taken up at this hearing.

Bharat Dogra is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save the Earth Now. His recent books include Planet in Peril, When the Two Streams Met and Man over Machine.

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