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Dalit Bahujan Adivasi Farm and Forest

Can the government explain craters and remnants of explosives in Sukma and Bijapur forests?

Rights groups call upon all citizens groups including women, farmers, Dalits, tribals to question the discovery of the what could be the shells and remnants of explosives in Bastar

Sabrangindia 26 Apr 2022

Anti MaoistRepresentation Image

Concerned about the alleged aerial attacks in Bijapur and Sukma forests in Chhattisgarh in mid-April, various people’s collectives appealed on April 25, 2022 for a dialogue between the administration and protesting villagers.

On the intervening night between April 14 and April 15 certain ‘indeterminate platforms’ attacked Bottetong and Mettagudem (Usoor block), Duled, Sakler, Pottemangi (Konta block) villages among others with ordnance explosives and left craters in the jungle. Villagers speaking to local news said that there were loud noises and flashes of fire from the forest.

Moreover, these bombs did not detonate in “uninhabited” areas but during a time of peak mahua collecting season. Villagers, especially women and children, wake up at 3 AM to collect mahua before the day grows warm.

Unsettled by this, organisations like the PUCL, NFIW, HRD and CBA called upon the Chhattisgarh and union governments to not conduct any aerial attacks on Adivasi areas where villages have long since been protesting security camps, fake encounters and mass arrests.

“Under what law are the Centre and State allegedly carrying out aerial attacks, with drones or other platforms, in these areas? If the Government is claiming the aerial raid reports are Maoist propaganda, why does it not order an independent investigation or issue a white paper on this?” asked collectives in a joint press release.

Members argued that evidence of air-dropped lethal ammunition proves the ‘non-international armed conflict’ in Chhattisgarh that the government terms a ‘law and order’ problem. Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions ratified by India prohibits inhumane treatment of civilians. Further, India is bound by customary international law prohibiting the indiscriminate use of ordnance.

“People are constantly going into the forests to collect non-timber forest products, graze their cattle, perform routine ablutions and so on. Given the extensive access to the forest by civilians, aerial attacks on forests amount to direct hostilities against civilians,” said collectives.

Activists demanded that security forces look into these violations of human rights recognised by more than one judicial enquiry, CBI, NHRC and the Supreme Court. They also demanded justice for the innocent victims of mass killings by security forces in Sarkeguda and Edesmetta and to mass arson, rape and killing victims in Tadmetla, Timapuram and Morpalli.

Additionally, dissenters said that the government must stop militarising Bastar with additional battalions and security camps. As per the 2011 Supreme Court direction the District Reserve Group (DRG) must be disbanded, Special Police Officers must be banned and Naxalites in counterinsurgency operations against Maoists be surrendered, under any name. Accordingly, the administration should engage in peace talks with the CPI (Maoist).

While the police deny the use of drones to carry out the alleged bombing, collectives said they still need to explain the craters, wire remnants and other ordnance material in the forest.

“It is important that the authorities clarify the type of ammunition used and the reasons for this type of raid,” said the activist groups.

In 2010, the then Air Chief Marshal had told The Hindu, “The military are not trained for limited lethality. The weapons we have are meant for the enemy across the border. Therefore, I am not in favour of the use of air force in situations like the Naxal problem.” Nowadays, the same appears to have happened, although it may not involve the Air Force per se.

Activists condemned terming the dangers faced by innocent Adivasis due to lethal ammunition and sophisticated attacks as “collateral” damage. They demanded that such actions potentially targeting civilians should be stopped immediately.

Related:

JJM approaches IG about attacks on Muslim minority

SC sets aside NGT order shutting down factories operating without Environmental Clearance

Structured discrimination has ensured 21 % of undertrial population is SC, 17.4 % Muslim and 34.3 % are OBCs; Justice Muralidhar

Still no recognition for non-ST tribes in India

Can the government explain craters and remnants of explosives in Sukma and Bijapur forests?

Rights groups call upon all citizens groups including women, farmers, Dalits, tribals to question the discovery of the what could be the shells and remnants of explosives in Bastar

Anti MaoistRepresentation Image

Concerned about the alleged aerial attacks in Bijapur and Sukma forests in Chhattisgarh in mid-April, various people’s collectives appealed on April 25, 2022 for a dialogue between the administration and protesting villagers.

On the intervening night between April 14 and April 15 certain ‘indeterminate platforms’ attacked Bottetong and Mettagudem (Usoor block), Duled, Sakler, Pottemangi (Konta block) villages among others with ordnance explosives and left craters in the jungle. Villagers speaking to local news said that there were loud noises and flashes of fire from the forest.

Moreover, these bombs did not detonate in “uninhabited” areas but during a time of peak mahua collecting season. Villagers, especially women and children, wake up at 3 AM to collect mahua before the day grows warm.

Unsettled by this, organisations like the PUCL, NFIW, HRD and CBA called upon the Chhattisgarh and union governments to not conduct any aerial attacks on Adivasi areas where villages have long since been protesting security camps, fake encounters and mass arrests.

“Under what law are the Centre and State allegedly carrying out aerial attacks, with drones or other platforms, in these areas? If the Government is claiming the aerial raid reports are Maoist propaganda, why does it not order an independent investigation or issue a white paper on this?” asked collectives in a joint press release.

Members argued that evidence of air-dropped lethal ammunition proves the ‘non-international armed conflict’ in Chhattisgarh that the government terms a ‘law and order’ problem. Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions ratified by India prohibits inhumane treatment of civilians. Further, India is bound by customary international law prohibiting the indiscriminate use of ordnance.

“People are constantly going into the forests to collect non-timber forest products, graze their cattle, perform routine ablutions and so on. Given the extensive access to the forest by civilians, aerial attacks on forests amount to direct hostilities against civilians,” said collectives.

Activists demanded that security forces look into these violations of human rights recognised by more than one judicial enquiry, CBI, NHRC and the Supreme Court. They also demanded justice for the innocent victims of mass killings by security forces in Sarkeguda and Edesmetta and to mass arson, rape and killing victims in Tadmetla, Timapuram and Morpalli.

Additionally, dissenters said that the government must stop militarising Bastar with additional battalions and security camps. As per the 2011 Supreme Court direction the District Reserve Group (DRG) must be disbanded, Special Police Officers must be banned and Naxalites in counterinsurgency operations against Maoists be surrendered, under any name. Accordingly, the administration should engage in peace talks with the CPI (Maoist).

While the police deny the use of drones to carry out the alleged bombing, collectives said they still need to explain the craters, wire remnants and other ordnance material in the forest.

“It is important that the authorities clarify the type of ammunition used and the reasons for this type of raid,” said the activist groups.

In 2010, the then Air Chief Marshal had told The Hindu, “The military are not trained for limited lethality. The weapons we have are meant for the enemy across the border. Therefore, I am not in favour of the use of air force in situations like the Naxal problem.” Nowadays, the same appears to have happened, although it may not involve the Air Force per se.

Activists condemned terming the dangers faced by innocent Adivasis due to lethal ammunition and sophisticated attacks as “collateral” damage. They demanded that such actions potentially targeting civilians should be stopped immediately.

Related:

JJM approaches IG about attacks on Muslim minority

SC sets aside NGT order shutting down factories operating without Environmental Clearance

Structured discrimination has ensured 21 % of undertrial population is SC, 17.4 % Muslim and 34.3 % are OBCs; Justice Muralidhar

Still no recognition for non-ST tribes in India

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