Independent Researcher Bela Bhatia Threatened: Undeclared Emergency in Bastar

Even as another journalist was arrested by the Chhatisgarh police today, Bela Bhatia, an independent researcher has today been made a target of attack.

Bela Bhatia's  own account:
At around 4 pm today, Saturday, March 26, 2016 a large group of agitated people (perhaps 100 or so) came to the village where I live, 8 km from Jagdalpur, in my absence. They came in four jeeps/cars, five autos and one pick-up. The group included men and women as well as members of the police force who were in plain clothes, a few of whom were armed. Villagers recognised some of them who were from a road-side neighbouring village. Around 4-5 were from another hamlet of this village.

The group was carrying a banner. They came to my house. They asked questions about me from the landlady and some neighbours. They asked why a Naxalite “aatankwadi” had been allowed to rent a room there, and advised the landlady to evict me (“unko bhagao”). They were also asking her for information about the landlord, her husband.

Then they took out a rally in the hamlet, shouting slogans against me (including “Bela Bhatia murdabad”) and distributing a leaflet. The leaflet (full text below) accuses me of being a "Naxali dalal" from outside and ends with the slogan "Bastar  chodo, Bastar chodo, Bela Bhatia Bastar chodo". The leaflet doesn't bear anyone's name or any details of any printer. Some of them were also distributing sweets to village children.

Bela Bhatia has moreover confirmed the identity of one of the leaders who came today as being Laxmi Kashyap, believed to be one of the leaders of the Mahila Ekta Manch. Despite these open threats and aggressions the Chhatisgarh police has refused to act to protect human rights defenders be they journalists or researchers or lawyers.

The text of the leaflet is as follows:
Bahari naxali dalal Bela Bhatia Bastariya adivasiyon ko gumrah karna band karo
Videshi dalal Bela Bhatia Bastar se bahar aao
Apne videshi pati Jean Dreze ke saath milkar khooni naxaliyon ke saath desh todna band karo va unki dalali band karo
Bastar chodo, Bastar chodo
Bela Bhatia Bastar chodo
Naxalvaad Murdabad!



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