Image: Shailendra Pandey/Tehelka
He has appealed to the President under the Fifth Schedule of the Indian Constitution as Guardian of the Adivasi People
Lingaram Kodopi, activist and independent journalist from the Bastar region in south Chhatisgarh addressed a press conference in New Delhi at the Women Press Corps and explained the circumstances behind which he had declared that he would take his life on March 23, 2016, the anniversary of Bhagat Singh's martyrdom. He also recorded his statement before the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) today. The press conference was addressed by senior members of the Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), Kalyani Menon Sen and Uma Chakraborty as also advocate Vrinda Grover.
On February 20, 2016 Adivasi leader Soni Sori was brutally attacked and a chemical thrown on her face. Soni Sori and other Adicasis have been at the forefront of the struggle for Adivasi basic human rights and against repression by the state police in Chhatisgarh. Within days of the attack, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the Chhatisgarh police into the attack flew to Delhi to record her statement. Strangely, however the team returned to Chhatisgarh without recording of the statement. On the eve of the attack, Soni Sori had been trying to get an FIR registered against IG Kalluri. Days before the attack on Soni Sori, for close to a fortnight she was trying to get an FIR registered against IG Kalluri. In the press conference today, Lingaram alleged specific threats to his life from IG Kalluri himself who he alleges abused Soni Sori in public and before her father. There have been serious allegations of gender violence and extra judicial killings against the Bastar range officers ever since IG Kalluri was brought back to the region in 2014.
Following the continued repression faced by Lingaram Kodopi and others Soni Sori returned to Chhatisgarh about ten days back. Since, Soni Sori and others have been trying in vain to register their statement before the Director General of Police, Chhatisgarh, having expressed their lack of faith in the SIT. To date, the police continues to, it is alleged. aggressively harass Soni Sori and others but no arrangements have been made to record their statement before the DGP.
The documents released at the press conference can be read here: