Jharkhand reviewing POTA cases every month, NCW told

NEW DELHI Nov. 13. The Jharkhand Government reviews the Prevention of Terrorism Act cases every month at the level of the Assistant Director-General of Police and has released 83 people, including 12 women.

This information was given to the National Commission for Women at a meeting with the chief secretary and secretaries of other State departments last month. The case of 14-year-old Mayanti Raj Kumari, held under POTA, as reported in the newspapers, was discussed. The Director-General of Police, R.R. Prasad, told the NCW chairperson, Poornima Advani, that Ms. Mayanti was an 18-year-old girl and an active member of the Maoist Communist Centre group. She ran away from home to join the group and had since been released.

Another issue that was raised at the meeting was that of tribal women and girls being taken out of the State by touts and agents with promises of jobs or marriage and eventually being used for trafficking, domestic work and as bonded agricultural labourers in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, West Bengal and Maharashtra.

Ms. Advani said the State Government should register agents who took five or more persons outside the State so that the fate of the girls was known. She suggested that there was a need for a unified agency that would coordinate with the States, where the gram sarpanch could be used as the nodal person for passing on information to police. The chairperson said the departments of labour, rural development and panchayati raj institutions, police and the district administration should work in tandem to check this menace.

Superstition that led to women being described as witches (`daain'), and discrimination and violence against them on this pretext, was identified as one of the key problems.

The State Government agreed to organise awareness camps in this regard since the number of killings under the Daain Practices Act had shown an increase from 24 in 2001 to 42 in 2002.