Chhattisgarh police arrest tribal rights defender, allegedly on fabricated charges

Police claim there are arrest warrants against Oyam in 8 out of 11 cases against him

Rainu oyam

Chhattisgarh Police and CRPF on April 25,2022 charged Human Rights Defender (HRD) Rainu Oyam in multiple allegedly fabricated cases, and arrested him for being a wanted Maoist. Rights group Human Rights Defenders’ Alert (HRDA) condemned the whole matter as a violation of D.K. Basu arrest guidelines.

As a leading member of the adivasi rights group Moolwasi Bachao Manch, Oyam has organised numerous peaceful protests against militarisation and human rights violations by police and security forces. Around the time of his arrest, Oyam was closely involved in organising ongoing peaceful protests against CRPF camps in Silger and Pusnar in Bijapur district. Villagers allege these camps are being set up in violation of forest rights and land acquisition laws and without the consent of locals.

On the intervening night of April 24 and April 25, Oyam was forcibly taken away by police personnel one kilometre away from the Cherpal CRPF camp. He was forced out of his tractor and detained without providing any reason or information regarding the cases against him.

According to the HRDA, officials abused, pushed and shoved objecting villagers and threatened to assault them. Oyam was taken to the Gangaloor police station which issued a press release claiming that Oyam was a wanted Maoist with a bounty of ₹10,000. Police also claimed he was the Krantikari Adivasi Bal Sangathan President, an alleged front organisation of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).

A total of 11 cases were registered against him pertaining to various incidents of firing on security forces, planting of mines and explosives, arson and murder between June 2020 and January 2022. Arrest warrants were issued in eight cases and three cases were sub judice, claimed the police.

Rejecting all this, Oyam’s family and fellow activists in the village issued a press note offering a point-by-point rebuttal to police’s claims, especially that he was an underground Maoist. Oyam is in fact a farmer, a married man, with three daughters. He graduated Class 10 in 2017 and gave his Class 11 exam under the national open school in 2020.

“This is an abuse of the fundamental Right to Life and Personal Liberty granted by Article 21 of the Constitution as well as a violation of human rights as guaranteed by national and international laws… He is implicated in multiple false cases as reprisal for his involvement in ongoing peaceful protests seeking the protection of Adivasis’ constitutional and human rights,” said the HRDA.

It further pointed out how fellow HRDs similarly invested in protests against security camps in Pusnar, Silger and other places fear similar action to facilitate resource-grab. Therefore, the HRDA on May 17 demanded an independent inquiry into the atrocities faced by Oyam to be submitted to the National Human Rights Commission within two weeks.

It also called for stern action against errant police and CRPF officials who misused provisions of law and framed HRD Oyam.

“Ensure that HRDs in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh are allowed to assemble peacefully and carry out their genuine human rights work as per the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution,” said the HRDA.


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