Ranchi, June 17: Jharkhand police have refused reply to a Right to
Information Act (RTI) application seeking the number of primary and
secondary schools occupied by paramilitary forces.
Though the state information panel asked the home department to
furnish the information on April 28, the police refused to divulge the
details as it could "hamper the state's security" and "harm life and
property of people".
In the reply to the application filed by state general secretary of
People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) Shashibhushan Pathak,
director-general of police (human rights) Ramlakhan Prasad said: "As
the information is related to the life and property of the common
masses, disclosure of the information is exempted under section 8(a)
and section 8(g) of the RTI."
The sections state that information affecting the sovereignty,
security and interests of India or endanger a life can be exempted
from the RTI Act.
Police spokesperson R.K. Mallick said Pathak was free to appeal. "This
is the view of the police headquarters. If the applicant disagrees, he
can appeal," said Mallick.
But the state information commission is the highest appellate in RTI matters.
Paramilitary forces occupy several schools, especially in rural areas,
as they have been deployed to fight Naxalites and do not have other
place to stay. Though it is common knowledge in a given area where the
security personnel are put, the number of schools under occupation is
Beside the number of schools, Pathak had also wanted to know which
government order allowed the forces to occupy the schools. "I fail to
understand how the information I have demanded would hamper the
state's security," said Pathak, pointing out that he had only wanted
The PUCL member said the government was violating the fundamental
right to education by stationing paramilitary forces in schools. "As
the state has enough funds to tackle Naxalites, it can put up tents
for the forces. Why should it take away the space of children in
schools?" he asked.
Even the Jharkhand State Information Commission has refused to accept
the excuse of the police. "The argument of the state police is not
acceptable. The police have to provide the information sought," said
state information commissioner Gangotri Kujur.
Pathak is not accept the explanation of the police as he has come a
long way seeking this information.
He had filed the application under the RTI Act at the directorate of primary education in April 2007. When he did not get the details, he
moved the office of the deputy director of the directorate of primary
education in December 2007. When this attempt also failed to bear
fruit, Pathak approached the state information commission.
Then came the reply from the human resource development department
that the occupation of school buildings by paramilitary forces
concerns the home department. The state information commission asked
the home department to provide Pathak with the information but only
got a refusal in reply.
Ranchi, July 16: Around 40 schools of the state are serving as camps for paramilitary forces supposedly fighting the Naxalite menace in rural Jharkhand.
The police have occupied several of these schools for the past 20 years.
These revelations have come from the state home department after the state unit of the People’s Union For Civil Liberties (PUCL) sought an explanation under the Right to Information (RTI). The PUCL state general secretary Shashibhushan Pathak had sought information from the home department. Ironically, the home department has occupied them under no government order or rule.
The police had earlier denied the applicant information. It reasoned that the said information would “hamper the state’s security”. The department said the “information would cause harm to the life and property of the common masses”.
However, the state information commission had refused to accept the stand of the state police and ordered the home department to supply information. “There was no office order to allow camping in schools,” said the information. “As there was no alternative to station the paramilitary forces and fight the Naxalite menace in the rural areas, the forces were kept in schools,” the information said.
Interestingly, even the state human resource development (HRD) minister Bandhu Tirkey, during his tours, had found that several schools were occupied by the paramilitary forces without the knowledge of the higher authorities of the HRD department. Tirkey has asked chief minister Madhu Koda, who also has the home portfolio, to call the paramilitary personnel from the schools.
Referring to these facts, the civil rights body demanded that police camps should be withdrawn immediately as the children’s right to education is being comprised.Police camps in schools violate the Convention on Rights of the Child (1990), which ensures international co-operation for easy access to education for every child, the PUCL spokesman Anand Kumar Singh said.
He added: “We now expect that the state government would withdraw the police camps from the primary, secondary and high schools, and restore the right to education to thousands of school-going children.”