Release Adivasi Leader Surju Tekam, end “fake” encounters, false arrests using “Maoist link” bogey: FACAM

The Forum alleges a string on extra judicial killings in Chhattisgarh since the December 2023 state assembly polls that saw a change of regime in the state

Strong protests have been lodged against the arrest of Sarva Adivasi Samaj Vice President Bastar Jan Sangharsh Samanvay Samiti Convenor, Surju Tekam on April 2, 2024 under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA) and the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005 (PSA), all under the excuse of Tekam being an alleged “Maoist sympathizer.”

In a statement issued today, the Forum Against Corporatisation and Militarisation (FACAM) has narrated the circumstances behind the arrest it us protesting:

Reportedly, Surju Tekam was force fully taken from his home in Kalwar village at 4 am. The village lies in the Manpur-Mohla-Ambagarh district, Chhattisgarh. According to statements from witnesses says the statement, after the first round of investigations (search) in his house, the police and paramilitary came up empty-handed. The statement then makes allegations that it was subsequently, literature associated with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) along with a bag of explosives was “planted” to build a “fictitious argument that Tekam is a Maoist sympathizer and an “arms supplier.”

Tekam was thereafter allegedly “beaten by the officers and abducted from his home subsequently.” On April 3, Tekam was presented before the NIA court in Bilaspur.

The statement then makes mention of the “Surajkund Scheme which”, as per the statement, “is being realised fully under the newly elected BJP government in Chhattisgarh.” According to an official as recorded by The Times of India (TOI) Tekam has been arrested because he leads all tribal protests and rallies under the influence of “Naxal commanders”. “Through his arrest and branding of a peaceful mass movement of Adivasis as those influenced by Maoists, “the state wishes to silence the voices vocal against the ongoing genocide of Adivasi peasants”. The present government has promoted a narrative of “vishwas, vikas aur suraksha” in the region.

Since January 1, 2024, the FACAM statement records that there have been 20+ “fake encounters” in Bastar, besides the “wanton killings of civilians including that of a 6-month-old infant,” and “numerous arrests of key leaders of anti-mining anti-displacement Adivasi movements, all conducted under the pretext of countering Naxalism.” In this crackdown by the states, leading members of Morohnaar and Orcha Jan Andolan’s who have been opposing mining in Amdai Ghati hills and paramilitary camps have also been arrested in this time period.

After Surju’s arrest, on April 3, 2024, in Narayanpur district, Rajmen Netam and one other, were arrested while they were coming back from a mela under the allegation a being Maoists. Their families are yet to be informed of this development by the authorities. There are also allegations that six persons were shot dead in Chipurbhatti, Bijapur district, again only on the with of allegation that they were members of CPI (Maoist). Evidence on this allegation is being contested. Some of those killed at least, it appears are part of their communities.

Reportedly, police have claimed to sections of the media that Surju’s arrest has been undertaken to ensure that he does not do “Naxalite campaigning during the Lok Sabha elections.” In the past, as a community leader, Surju Tekam and many others leading the mass movements in Bastar against corporatisation and militarization have questioned the merits of elections in Bastar for Adivasis when the Indian state, according to their interpretation “is waging its war on people indiscriminately”. Tekam had himself warned of the same prior to the BJP winning the Chhattisgarh state assembly in 2023.

Bedsides, the Forum Against Corporatization and Militarization (FACAM) vehemently which has condemned the arrest of Adivasi leader Surju Tekam, continued arrests and harassment of activists of mass movements as well as the 20+ fake encounters in Bastar since January 1, 2024, has put forward some of the following demands:

1) the immediate release of Surju Tekam and all political prisoners.

2) judicial inquiry into the 20+ fake encounters of ordinary Adivasis since January 1, 2024.

3) judicial inquiry into the so-called encounter killings of alleged Maoists on March 27, 2024.


Pitted against corporatization of mineral rich area, Chhattisgarh Adivasi leader arrested




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