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Tribal leaders in Bastar claim that security forces killed 10 innocent people and raped children

06 Mar 2019

Security forces gunned down at least 10 alleged Maoists during an encounter in Bijapur and claimed that 11 weapons were found by them. The activists claimed that none of the ten people killed that day by the security forces were Naxalites, and no encounter took place on that day.


bastar
Image Courtesy: Two Circles
 
Bastar: Human rights defender and tribal leaders Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi released a statement on the murder of 10 innocent people by security forces in Bastar, Chhattisgarh. They spoke about how the truth was shoved under the carpet about the continuing onslaught of violence against the indigenous Adivasi population of Bastar, especially after the incident of February 7 in village Tadiballa, Tehsil Bhairamgarh, Bijapur situated in the hills of Abujhmad.
 
“It is notable that the government and the Home Minister are presenting this as a great victory of the security forces, but if one asks just a few questions and conducts even a small inquiry, a chilling reality emerges. We, the residents of many villages of Bastar, have gathered at Bhairamgarh today, on March 5, to expose the lies of the government, to tell our story to the world, and to seek justice,” they said in their statement.
 
Security forces gunned down at least 10 alleged Maoists during an encounter in Bijapur and claimed that 11 weapons were found by them.
 
The activists claimed that none of the ten people killed that day by the security forces were Naxalites, and no encounter took place on that day. “Most of the villagers who died that day were our children, who had gathered that day to participate in village sports. The security forces came and started firing indiscriminately on the crowd of villagers without any warning, as a result of which people panicked and there was utter chaos. Those hit with bullets were brutalized further by the security forces. Two girls were raped, of whom a young girl of 12 years was not only raped, but her nose and private parts were mutilated.  All the dead were subjected to brutal torture, despite the security forces clearly knowing that they were only villagers. The force personnel also burned all the clothes, vessels, containers etc present at the incident site,” the activists said.


Video Courtesy: Two Circles

“We want to know why the security forces behave so badly each and every time they visit our village on routine patrol. From where do they get these orders? Every day, without any reason or any evidence, Adivasis are being rounded up, taken to a camp or police station where they are being detained for days on end and beaten up.  Their family members are denied any information about their whereabouts, at the end of which they are either let go or arrested in a false Naxalite case. Under whose orders do the security forces consider women’s bodies as their own property to assault and violate at their will? Even pregnant women, young girls and mothers with children at their breasts are not spared. When we file complaints, they come up with casteist defences – that Adivasi women have a foul smell, and none of these men would even touch them. What kind of orders are these which call for brutal extermination of hundreds of innocent Adivasi civilians?” they said in their statement.
 
The Adivasi population in Bastar continuously lives in the shadow of death and destruction. “Our houses are looted and burned, and our carefully earned money, clothes, cash, crops, sheep and cattle, chicken, and all our wealth is like an eyesore for the government. What kind of militarization is this, supposedly for the protection of Bastar’s population, but something which only arouses utmost fear in us? What we have lost, what torture we have borne, what misery the government has bestowed on us is immeasurable, but today it is the duty of the government to answer our questions and give us justice,” they said while making the following demands from the government-
 
1. As per our description of the event, a counter-FIR should be lodged into the incident under sections 302, 307, 376(2)(c), 201 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 5(b) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, which should be investigated in an unbiased and transparent manner
 
2. To get to the bottom of this matter, a Commission of Inquiry should be instituted, presided by a retired High Court Judge.
 
3. The family members of the deceased should be given copies of the FIR and the Post Mortem.
 
4. The Magisterial Inquiry should be conducted as per the guidelines of the NHRC and in a manner making it possible for the family members of the deceased to give their testimonies fearlessly.
 
Two Adivasi women were also shot at by CRPF officers on February 2 in in the forest of Rengaiguda village, around 450 kms from Raipur, under Polampalli police station limits, when a joint team of security forces was returning after an area domination operation.
 
While a woman named Podiyam Sukki died of the gunshot wounds, another woman Kalmi Dewe was wounded and is currently being treated at a hospital. The police have been calling them Maoists but villagers have rejected these claims and said that they were not involved in any skirmish. The officers were also seen changing the women’s clothes and dressing them up in Naxal uniforms.
 
Read Also:
Sukma fake encounter: Jawans were dressing up victim in Naxal uniform after shooting her
 

Tribal leaders in Bastar claim that security forces killed 10 innocent people and raped children

Security forces gunned down at least 10 alleged Maoists during an encounter in Bijapur and claimed that 11 weapons were found by them. The activists claimed that none of the ten people killed that day by the security forces were Naxalites, and no encounter took place on that day.


bastar
Image Courtesy: Two Circles
 
Bastar: Human rights defender and tribal leaders Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi released a statement on the murder of 10 innocent people by security forces in Bastar, Chhattisgarh. They spoke about how the truth was shoved under the carpet about the continuing onslaught of violence against the indigenous Adivasi population of Bastar, especially after the incident of February 7 in village Tadiballa, Tehsil Bhairamgarh, Bijapur situated in the hills of Abujhmad.
 
“It is notable that the government and the Home Minister are presenting this as a great victory of the security forces, but if one asks just a few questions and conducts even a small inquiry, a chilling reality emerges. We, the residents of many villages of Bastar, have gathered at Bhairamgarh today, on March 5, to expose the lies of the government, to tell our story to the world, and to seek justice,” they said in their statement.
 
Security forces gunned down at least 10 alleged Maoists during an encounter in Bijapur and claimed that 11 weapons were found by them.
 
The activists claimed that none of the ten people killed that day by the security forces were Naxalites, and no encounter took place on that day. “Most of the villagers who died that day were our children, who had gathered that day to participate in village sports. The security forces came and started firing indiscriminately on the crowd of villagers without any warning, as a result of which people panicked and there was utter chaos. Those hit with bullets were brutalized further by the security forces. Two girls were raped, of whom a young girl of 12 years was not only raped, but her nose and private parts were mutilated.  All the dead were subjected to brutal torture, despite the security forces clearly knowing that they were only villagers. The force personnel also burned all the clothes, vessels, containers etc present at the incident site,” the activists said.


Video Courtesy: Two Circles

“We want to know why the security forces behave so badly each and every time they visit our village on routine patrol. From where do they get these orders? Every day, without any reason or any evidence, Adivasis are being rounded up, taken to a camp or police station where they are being detained for days on end and beaten up.  Their family members are denied any information about their whereabouts, at the end of which they are either let go or arrested in a false Naxalite case. Under whose orders do the security forces consider women’s bodies as their own property to assault and violate at their will? Even pregnant women, young girls and mothers with children at their breasts are not spared. When we file complaints, they come up with casteist defences – that Adivasi women have a foul smell, and none of these men would even touch them. What kind of orders are these which call for brutal extermination of hundreds of innocent Adivasi civilians?” they said in their statement.
 
The Adivasi population in Bastar continuously lives in the shadow of death and destruction. “Our houses are looted and burned, and our carefully earned money, clothes, cash, crops, sheep and cattle, chicken, and all our wealth is like an eyesore for the government. What kind of militarization is this, supposedly for the protection of Bastar’s population, but something which only arouses utmost fear in us? What we have lost, what torture we have borne, what misery the government has bestowed on us is immeasurable, but today it is the duty of the government to answer our questions and give us justice,” they said while making the following demands from the government-
 
1. As per our description of the event, a counter-FIR should be lodged into the incident under sections 302, 307, 376(2)(c), 201 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 5(b) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, which should be investigated in an unbiased and transparent manner
 
2. To get to the bottom of this matter, a Commission of Inquiry should be instituted, presided by a retired High Court Judge.
 
3. The family members of the deceased should be given copies of the FIR and the Post Mortem.
 
4. The Magisterial Inquiry should be conducted as per the guidelines of the NHRC and in a manner making it possible for the family members of the deceased to give their testimonies fearlessly.
 
Two Adivasi women were also shot at by CRPF officers on February 2 in in the forest of Rengaiguda village, around 450 kms from Raipur, under Polampalli police station limits, when a joint team of security forces was returning after an area domination operation.
 
While a woman named Podiyam Sukki died of the gunshot wounds, another woman Kalmi Dewe was wounded and is currently being treated at a hospital. The police have been calling them Maoists but villagers have rejected these claims and said that they were not involved in any skirmish. The officers were also seen changing the women’s clothes and dressing them up in Naxal uniforms.
 
Read Also:
Sukma fake encounter: Jawans were dressing up victim in Naxal uniform after shooting her
 

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Bastar Adivasis demand justice for the alleged killing of children by security forces

06 Mar 2019

On 7th February 2019 in Tadiballa village of  Bhairamgarh Tehsil, Bijapur district of Chattisgarh the police fired indiscriminately and killed 10 persons.




This appeared in the news as an encounter in which 10 Naxalites were killed by the security forces and the state government and the Home Minister hailed this as a victory.

But the people from many villages of Bastar gathered at Bhairamgarh on 5th March 2019 to protest these killings because they want to tell the world the truth and expose the lies of the Government and demand justice.

TwoCircles.net contacted one activist and also an Adivasi Lingaram Kodopi, who explained the incident that took place on 7th February. He affirmed the facts mentioned in their press release that no encounter took place that day instead the security forced fired indiscriminately at the crowd who had gathered to participate in the village sports. And as a result of the firings, even children died. The security personnel did not stop there they tortured the dead bodies and even raped 2 girls. One of the girls, who was 12 years was raped and her nose and privates mutilated. Further, the security forces also burned the materials they found at the site like vessels, clothes etc.
 

 
Lingaram also said, “ The forced behave atrociously every time they visit the village. We don’t know whom to ask for help under these circumstances. This time we all gathered in large numbers because they killed our children.”

Lingaram further said, “ Even I have not been spared. Nor other activists. I have faced the atrocities of the police and have been jailed for 3 years under false allegations. Every now and then I get death threats. But we have not given up. We will keep fighting for our rights.”

Every single day the Adivasi men are rounded up, taken to a police station, beaten up or detained for days and sometimes even arrested by being labelled as Naxalites. The women are not spared either, they are sexually assaulted. The livestock, the food grains, cash are also seized.  Their complaints are not entertained. This happens in many villages across the region.



Lingaram says that the reason the security forces behave in this manner is to instil fear in our hearts so that out of fear for our lives we will leave the forests. They want to occupy our forests, our lands and our resources. But we have nowhere to go. So we will just keep on fighting”.

The demands of the Adivasis at the protest today are:
 
  • FIR be filed against the police officials for murder, rape and sexual abuse under the POCSO Act (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act);
  • Set up a commission of inquiry headed by a retired judge ;
  • The family members of the deceased are given copies of FIR and post mortem reports
  • The enquiry should be conducted as per the guidelines of the National Human Rights commission wherein the victimised Adivasis can give their testimonies fearlessly.
After the protest they submitted their memorandum or demands to the high officials and to the MLA of their region.



Lingaram Kopodi told TwoCircles.net, “ Apart from the MLA of Bijapur, Vikram Shah Mandavi, nobody has given us a word of assurance. The MLA has promised that he will inquire into the matter and ensure that the guilty are punished”.

He also said, “ We want the world to know the truth. And friends of the media are our only hope.”

First published on Two circles
 

Bastar Adivasis demand justice for the alleged killing of children by security forces

On 7th February 2019 in Tadiballa village of  Bhairamgarh Tehsil, Bijapur district of Chattisgarh the police fired indiscriminately and killed 10 persons.




This appeared in the news as an encounter in which 10 Naxalites were killed by the security forces and the state government and the Home Minister hailed this as a victory.

But the people from many villages of Bastar gathered at Bhairamgarh on 5th March 2019 to protest these killings because they want to tell the world the truth and expose the lies of the Government and demand justice.

TwoCircles.net contacted one activist and also an Adivasi Lingaram Kodopi, who explained the incident that took place on 7th February. He affirmed the facts mentioned in their press release that no encounter took place that day instead the security forced fired indiscriminately at the crowd who had gathered to participate in the village sports. And as a result of the firings, even children died. The security personnel did not stop there they tortured the dead bodies and even raped 2 girls. One of the girls, who was 12 years was raped and her nose and privates mutilated. Further, the security forces also burned the materials they found at the site like vessels, clothes etc.
 

 
Lingaram also said, “ The forced behave atrociously every time they visit the village. We don’t know whom to ask for help under these circumstances. This time we all gathered in large numbers because they killed our children.”

Lingaram further said, “ Even I have not been spared. Nor other activists. I have faced the atrocities of the police and have been jailed for 3 years under false allegations. Every now and then I get death threats. But we have not given up. We will keep fighting for our rights.”

Every single day the Adivasi men are rounded up, taken to a police station, beaten up or detained for days and sometimes even arrested by being labelled as Naxalites. The women are not spared either, they are sexually assaulted. The livestock, the food grains, cash are also seized.  Their complaints are not entertained. This happens in many villages across the region.



Lingaram says that the reason the security forces behave in this manner is to instil fear in our hearts so that out of fear for our lives we will leave the forests. They want to occupy our forests, our lands and our resources. But we have nowhere to go. So we will just keep on fighting”.

The demands of the Adivasis at the protest today are:
 
  • FIR be filed against the police officials for murder, rape and sexual abuse under the POCSO Act (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act);
  • Set up a commission of inquiry headed by a retired judge ;
  • The family members of the deceased are given copies of FIR and post mortem reports
  • The enquiry should be conducted as per the guidelines of the National Human Rights commission wherein the victimised Adivasis can give their testimonies fearlessly.
After the protest they submitted their memorandum or demands to the high officials and to the MLA of their region.



Lingaram Kopodi told TwoCircles.net, “ Apart from the MLA of Bijapur, Vikram Shah Mandavi, nobody has given us a word of assurance. The MLA has promised that he will inquire into the matter and ensure that the guilty are punished”.

He also said, “ We want the world to know the truth. And friends of the media are our only hope.”

First published on Two circles
 

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Election Watch Chhattisgarh: No Media, No News, Only EVMs and governments

06 Nov 2018

Adivasis are not allowed to cast their votes, journalists are prohibited from reporting the truth, tribal land is given to industrialists at a fraction of the cost and the state govt is a mute spectator of this unhinged loot of its resources and the attendant crimes against humanity.


Bastar
 
The number of seats, names of candidates, who filed their nomination, who withdrew it, the date of polling, who won, who lost, who abused whom and more such instances are the only issues being allowed in the electoral coverage by the media. The releases by the police are sometimes the only news people get here. The government here has suppressed democratic processes here. Among the 12 seats in Bastar that are being contested in Assembly elections, many areas in these constituencies are so dangerous that people don’t step out of their houses here. There are many more areas where journalists are prohibited. (Although this is an undeclared prohibition, like an undeclared emergency.)
 
The Chattisgarh assembly elections will take place in two phases. In the first phase, 18 seats will go to the  polls on November 12 out of which six are in Rajnandgaon and 12 in Bastar area. On Nov 1, the state of Chattisgarh completed 18 years of its existence. The BJP has been in power here for the last 15 years. In these period, the state has faced heavy social instability. The way the constitution is subverted in this state is stark as compared to any other state. Chhattisgarh is a state with a sizeable Adivasi and tribal population but it is the Adivasis who have to pay the biggest price for this neglect. There were 36% Adivasis in this state when it was carved out 18 years ago. Now this figure is down to only 32%. The rights and provisions given to tribals according to the fifth schedule of the constitution have remained confined to books. They are sometimes mentioned during electoral speeches by politicians and forgotten soon after.
 
Governments stifling grip on journalists who show the truth
An environment of panic and intimidation has been created against journalists and social activists. Reporters who question the police and their unethical practices are intimidated and threatened, they are arrested and sent to jail on fake and arbitrary cases or are forced to leave Bastar. In the last few years, many journalists have been arrested here. Somaru Nag was arrested in July 2015 and Santosh Yadav was arrested in August 2015. Nag was confined to the jail for a year. No evidence could be provided for his forced arrest and he was let go. A case was filed under Arms Act, UAPA and even CSPSA against Yadav. He was jailed for 17 months. In February 2017, he was granted bail by the Supreme Court. The police and institutions funded by them forced Malini Subramaniam to leave her home in September 2015. Prabhat Singh and Deepak Jaiswal were also arrested after a few days. A case of treason was filed on independent journalist Kamal Shukla from Bastar. The Editors Guild visited Bastar, Bijapur and other nearby areas in March 2016 to ascertain the working conditions of local journalists and observed that they didn’t find a single reporter working without fear.
 
Crores benefitting from ‘Naxal eradication’
The Raman Singh government of Chattisgarh takes pride in saying that thousands of kms of forest area are untouched by the outer world. The govt should include itself in the outer world. In this great expanse of untouched land, it is obvious that a human population resides there, which is an equal part of this democratic country. These areas have been left isolated and destitute by being branded Naxal areas. The government has left no stone unturned to profit from this neglected area. The areas which can be reached by the govt have been looted of their natural resources and for the areas which can’t be accessed, the govt gets crores of rupees from the state in the name of Naxal eradication there.  Politicians and bureaucrats have lined their pockets with this fund.
 
The situation was not this bad in these Adivasi areas 15 years ago. The government was targeting Adivasis back then too but journalists were able to write about it and expose these atrocities. You could still provide independent and honest journalism while reporting from tribal areas. At least you didn’t have to live in fear that the police may shoot you for writing the truth. Journalists had the freedom to ask questions. Social activists were not being openly threatened by government-funded goons. The social activists and journalists who were exposing the bad policies of the government were not persecuted under sedition charges. The conditions have changed completely today.
 
Journalism free Bastar Election
Independent journalist from Bastar, Kamal Shukla, says that the 2018 Bastar elections are completely media free. He says that the conspiracy to keep the media away from the electoral activities is not new. Past elections have had to face the same situation. It is not just during elections that such interference with journalism takes place. Besides the main election fields in Bastar's constituencies (Antagarh, Bhanupratappur, Kanker, Keshkal, Kondagaon, Narayanpur, Bastar, Jagdalpur, Chitrakot, Dantewada, Bijapur, Konta) where polls are to be held on November 12, no other areas or remote locations have got any media coverage. Journalists don’t have access to many of these regions.
 
The atmosphere of a battlefield
For Konta, Bijapur, Dantewada and Narayanpur seats, Kamal Shukla says, “There is a war-like atmosphere in many of these areas. Forget media persons, even the movements of common people are hard in these areas. In urban areas, you can still see some work being done but it is in the remote Adivasi areas where you can all the failed government promises laid bare and the proof of govt stolen natural resources.” In the Konta constituency, giving the example of Jagargunda village, Shukla says, “There was a time when the village had operational schools, hospitals and more. Today, there isn’t even a good road to reach there. Even if you do undertake the journey on the wobbly roads, it is impossible to cross more than 10 camps of security forces that fall on the way. They behave badly with journalists and interrogate us as if we are terrorists.”
 
Media is banned so the government can hide its ugly activities
When Chattisgarh state came into being in 2000, only three development zones were affected by Naxalism. Today there are 16 affected districts. The BJP govt has neither heard the voices of countless Adivasis nor has it taken any step to counter Naxalism in the state. The ruling govt says that Naxalism has reduced but the incidents of the last 15 years paint a different picture. Naxalism has actually increased in the state. It is a clear sign that the govt doesn’t want Naxalism to end because they have their eyes trained on the 9000-crore fund which the centre has allotted to Chattisgarh to counter it. There are scores of such incidences where innocent Adivasis have been forcibly labelled Naxals and encountered by the police, who then were showered with praises. This complex puzzle is run by the police on the behest of the govt.
 
This is being done so that the corporates can benefit. The government is plotting to evict tribals from their lands so that these priceless resources can be given to industrialists. In Dantewada, Jagdalpur, Bastar and Narayanpur districts, a vast amount of mineral wealth can be found which the govt wants to sell to Adani and others at a subsidised cost.
 
Adivasi land was drowned to generate electricity from the dam built upon it but those villagers that were displaced and other Adivasi villages still don’t have electricity. Irrigation projects were set up on their lands but their fields don’t receive any water. They are earning a profit of crores from the destroyed forest land but the Adivasis are becoming poorer and are becoming destitute. Their children are malnourished. They are not being provided with basic provisions like education, healthcare or drinking water. The govt thinks these mines are a sign of development. But this blind, deaf and dumb govt can’t see the terrible price the state has to pay for this development
 
Lakhs of Adivasis have migrated from the state. This year, the Modi government had made significant cuts to the support prices of small forest produce. They justified this by saying that it was a loss-making area and they had to scale down the prices. The Raman govt accepted it silently. It was a huge loss to people whose livelihoods depend on the income from forest produce.
 
Forest Produce    Old Support Price/Rupees   New Support Price   Change Percentage
Coloured Lac       230                                           100                              56.52
Kusumi Lac          320                                           100                              53.13
Tamarind              22                                             18                               18.6
Karanj seed         20                                             18                                10
Mahua                 22                                              20                                9.09
Chironji               100                                             60                               40
Harra                   11                                               8                                 27.27
 
In the case of small forest produce, 75% of the cost is given by the centre and 25% by the state govt. In a state which has 40% forest area and 32% Adivasi population, most tribal population makes a living from this produce. The CM should’ve taken some action here. The govt showed no compassion.
 
In the mining operations being carried out by NMDC in the state since 1968, only 31 Adivasis have been given permanent jobs. All others are paid contractual wages when it is on their land that these mines are operating.
 
The pipelines carrying the iron ore mined by NMDC from Kirandul to Vishakhapatnam were made by Essar. The poisonous residue from this mine flows into Shankini and Dankini rivers. With the rivers polluted, the cattle is dying, the land has become barren and the environment of more than 52 tribal villages has worsened.
 
The Chattisgarh government brought a law in the legislative assembly which allowed them to acquire Adivasi land more easily. Now with the mutual consent of the govt, it can give this land to any industrialist. Instead of paying the compensation (four times the actual value of land) to the tribals, the promises of employment in factories or mines are made but never fulfilled. The plight of tribals in areas like Bastar, Dantewada, Jagdalpur, Kanta, Bijapur and Narayanpur can be easily seen.
 
In the last two decade, 30,000 girls from Bastar have been caught in the human trafficking net. The govt is not investigating the matter, they are not searching for them, they are not helping the families of these missing girls, they are not trying to stop it and nor are they trying to prevent it. Here, incidences of the police holding tribal girls hostage have come forward. But the Raman government, instead of punishing these police officials, promotes and rewards such people.
 
Farming tools are weapons for the police
Farm tools used by tribals are considered dangerous weapons by the Chattisgarh police. According to the Arms Act, 1959, it is clearly stated that farming tools are not counted as weapons. Despite these, many people have been booked under the Arms Act for keeping these tools. About 2000 Adivasis have been booked for having connections with Maoists under this Act.
 
Village tribals are being forcibly jailed in large numbers. The police and paramilitary forces enter their houses without warrants and steal money, goats, poultry, ducks and their belongings. They are threatened that if they said a word to anybody, their children will be killed. For every tribal arrested, the policeman gets a reward.
 
Around 3000 schools have been shut in Adivasi areas. The PESA law is being violated openly. If an industry fails, the land acquired for the said industry has to be returned to the original owner within five years. The Tata plant is yet to do so. These areas have been put in the land bank. This proves that the government is greedy and corrupt.
 
In the tribal areas where the fifth schedule is applicable, the Tribal Council of Ministers is formulated for constitutional facilitation. The president of this council has to be a tribal. But in Chhattisgarh, Chief Minister Raman Singh has always been the president of this council.
 
The death of DD cameraman raises a lot of questions
Two security guards and DD cameraman Achyutananda Sahu were killed in a crossfire between security forces and Maoists in Aranpur, 30 kms from Dantewada. Incidentally, it was reported that Doordarshan was asked to film a documentary in Bastar to showcase the good work being done by the government in the area. Anybody being killed on the line of duty is saddening but the death of the cameraman in the Naxal ambush raises a lot of questions.

Everyone in Bastar knows that Naxals and Police are often caught in a crossfire but journalists are never targeted. Maoists in Bastar had even released a letter stating that journalists are free to report from any area in the region and nobody will stop them. They had also instructed them to not come with any security force. The situation is that policemen can visit these areas by wearing plain clothes and with a vehicle which has a Press stamp. Sending journalists with police forces in such a situation is precarious. The govt never allows journalists to visit these areas by claiming that it is a security risk. Then why was the DD team allowed to go? Was it because they were going to make a report describing the governments work? Using this event as a shield, the govt will make reporting from these areas even more difficult.
 
Gun-toting Indian government
The tribals of Ambujman and Jagargunda know the Indian government only in the form of a gun. They have seen the Indian govt’s service only in the form of Army jawans. They have known Indian govt as the person who enters their village, snatches their loved ones away and sometimes kills them. When a journalist or a social activist reaches such a village after escaping the eyes of the police or security forces, they greet the unarmed person with hopeful eyes and asks them, “Are you from the Indian government? Can you send them a message from us that we are not Naxals and stop putting us in jails. Bring a machine to our village, we want to vote.” They point to a school building and say, “Ask someone to come here, we want to learn.” If someone falls sick in the areas which don’t have roads, the nearest dispensary is 20 kms away and the 20 kms in a jungle are more difficult than 200 kms in the city.
 
We want to vote but nobody comes here
Talking about his experience of meeting people from remote villages, Journalist Kamal Shukla says, “Bastar’s Adivasis want to vote, they want to participate in the electoral celebrations but the government doesn’t want to consider them as Indians. Polling booths are made at a distance of 40 kms from these villages. The elections are now limited only to urban areas. The govt and police spread the fake news that villagers don’t want to vote due to Maoists. Police says that Maoists cut off the fingers of voters from these villages even though no such case has been reported so far. The govt has conspired to keep the media and Adivasis away from the elections.”
 
Media distancing itself from Bastar
No major media house has a permanent correspondent in this area. Even everyday news is not reported from this region, forget election coverage. The reporters who do work for newspapers either don’t get good salaries or don’t get the necessary attention. The few journalists who did want to visit the state to cover the elections are now changing their plans after the DD cameraman’s death. Some due to fear and others due to Police interference.
 
Journalist Rajkumar Soni, who wrote on tribal issues, has been transferred to Coimbatore before the election. Two Chattisgarh journalists, Renu Awasthi and Shailendra Vishwakarma committed suicide after being mentally tortured. Their case is gathering dust. A journalist from New York, Siddhartha Rai and independent journalist Kamal Shukla, who were covering elections in Bastar a few weeks ago, were harassed for hours in a police station and their cameras were searched.
 
In Bastar, life-threatening attacks on freedom of press and democracy continue.

[This article is an English translation of the original Hindi article]


Read Also:
Election Watch Chhattisgarh: No winners or losers in this non-starter election
 Whither Freedom: The Chhatisgarh attack on journalists
 Attacking the Defenders of Freedom, Chhatisgarh: Lawyers and Journos being Forced Out
Where every human rights activist is labelled a Maoist: Chhatisgarh

 

Election Watch Chhattisgarh: No Media, No News, Only EVMs and governments

Adivasis are not allowed to cast their votes, journalists are prohibited from reporting the truth, tribal land is given to industrialists at a fraction of the cost and the state govt is a mute spectator of this unhinged loot of its resources and the attendant crimes against humanity.


Bastar
 
The number of seats, names of candidates, who filed their nomination, who withdrew it, the date of polling, who won, who lost, who abused whom and more such instances are the only issues being allowed in the electoral coverage by the media. The releases by the police are sometimes the only news people get here. The government here has suppressed democratic processes here. Among the 12 seats in Bastar that are being contested in Assembly elections, many areas in these constituencies are so dangerous that people don’t step out of their houses here. There are many more areas where journalists are prohibited. (Although this is an undeclared prohibition, like an undeclared emergency.)
 
The Chattisgarh assembly elections will take place in two phases. In the first phase, 18 seats will go to the  polls on November 12 out of which six are in Rajnandgaon and 12 in Bastar area. On Nov 1, the state of Chattisgarh completed 18 years of its existence. The BJP has been in power here for the last 15 years. In these period, the state has faced heavy social instability. The way the constitution is subverted in this state is stark as compared to any other state. Chhattisgarh is a state with a sizeable Adivasi and tribal population but it is the Adivasis who have to pay the biggest price for this neglect. There were 36% Adivasis in this state when it was carved out 18 years ago. Now this figure is down to only 32%. The rights and provisions given to tribals according to the fifth schedule of the constitution have remained confined to books. They are sometimes mentioned during electoral speeches by politicians and forgotten soon after.
 
Governments stifling grip on journalists who show the truth
An environment of panic and intimidation has been created against journalists and social activists. Reporters who question the police and their unethical practices are intimidated and threatened, they are arrested and sent to jail on fake and arbitrary cases or are forced to leave Bastar. In the last few years, many journalists have been arrested here. Somaru Nag was arrested in July 2015 and Santosh Yadav was arrested in August 2015. Nag was confined to the jail for a year. No evidence could be provided for his forced arrest and he was let go. A case was filed under Arms Act, UAPA and even CSPSA against Yadav. He was jailed for 17 months. In February 2017, he was granted bail by the Supreme Court. The police and institutions funded by them forced Malini Subramaniam to leave her home in September 2015. Prabhat Singh and Deepak Jaiswal were also arrested after a few days. A case of treason was filed on independent journalist Kamal Shukla from Bastar. The Editors Guild visited Bastar, Bijapur and other nearby areas in March 2016 to ascertain the working conditions of local journalists and observed that they didn’t find a single reporter working without fear.
 
Crores benefitting from ‘Naxal eradication’
The Raman Singh government of Chattisgarh takes pride in saying that thousands of kms of forest area are untouched by the outer world. The govt should include itself in the outer world. In this great expanse of untouched land, it is obvious that a human population resides there, which is an equal part of this democratic country. These areas have been left isolated and destitute by being branded Naxal areas. The government has left no stone unturned to profit from this neglected area. The areas which can be reached by the govt have been looted of their natural resources and for the areas which can’t be accessed, the govt gets crores of rupees from the state in the name of Naxal eradication there.  Politicians and bureaucrats have lined their pockets with this fund.
 
The situation was not this bad in these Adivasi areas 15 years ago. The government was targeting Adivasis back then too but journalists were able to write about it and expose these atrocities. You could still provide independent and honest journalism while reporting from tribal areas. At least you didn’t have to live in fear that the police may shoot you for writing the truth. Journalists had the freedom to ask questions. Social activists were not being openly threatened by government-funded goons. The social activists and journalists who were exposing the bad policies of the government were not persecuted under sedition charges. The conditions have changed completely today.
 
Journalism free Bastar Election
Independent journalist from Bastar, Kamal Shukla, says that the 2018 Bastar elections are completely media free. He says that the conspiracy to keep the media away from the electoral activities is not new. Past elections have had to face the same situation. It is not just during elections that such interference with journalism takes place. Besides the main election fields in Bastar's constituencies (Antagarh, Bhanupratappur, Kanker, Keshkal, Kondagaon, Narayanpur, Bastar, Jagdalpur, Chitrakot, Dantewada, Bijapur, Konta) where polls are to be held on November 12, no other areas or remote locations have got any media coverage. Journalists don’t have access to many of these regions.
 
The atmosphere of a battlefield
For Konta, Bijapur, Dantewada and Narayanpur seats, Kamal Shukla says, “There is a war-like atmosphere in many of these areas. Forget media persons, even the movements of common people are hard in these areas. In urban areas, you can still see some work being done but it is in the remote Adivasi areas where you can all the failed government promises laid bare and the proof of govt stolen natural resources.” In the Konta constituency, giving the example of Jagargunda village, Shukla says, “There was a time when the village had operational schools, hospitals and more. Today, there isn’t even a good road to reach there. Even if you do undertake the journey on the wobbly roads, it is impossible to cross more than 10 camps of security forces that fall on the way. They behave badly with journalists and interrogate us as if we are terrorists.”
 
Media is banned so the government can hide its ugly activities
When Chattisgarh state came into being in 2000, only three development zones were affected by Naxalism. Today there are 16 affected districts. The BJP govt has neither heard the voices of countless Adivasis nor has it taken any step to counter Naxalism in the state. The ruling govt says that Naxalism has reduced but the incidents of the last 15 years paint a different picture. Naxalism has actually increased in the state. It is a clear sign that the govt doesn’t want Naxalism to end because they have their eyes trained on the 9000-crore fund which the centre has allotted to Chattisgarh to counter it. There are scores of such incidences where innocent Adivasis have been forcibly labelled Naxals and encountered by the police, who then were showered with praises. This complex puzzle is run by the police on the behest of the govt.
 
This is being done so that the corporates can benefit. The government is plotting to evict tribals from their lands so that these priceless resources can be given to industrialists. In Dantewada, Jagdalpur, Bastar and Narayanpur districts, a vast amount of mineral wealth can be found which the govt wants to sell to Adani and others at a subsidised cost.
 
Adivasi land was drowned to generate electricity from the dam built upon it but those villagers that were displaced and other Adivasi villages still don’t have electricity. Irrigation projects were set up on their lands but their fields don’t receive any water. They are earning a profit of crores from the destroyed forest land but the Adivasis are becoming poorer and are becoming destitute. Their children are malnourished. They are not being provided with basic provisions like education, healthcare or drinking water. The govt thinks these mines are a sign of development. But this blind, deaf and dumb govt can’t see the terrible price the state has to pay for this development
 
Lakhs of Adivasis have migrated from the state. This year, the Modi government had made significant cuts to the support prices of small forest produce. They justified this by saying that it was a loss-making area and they had to scale down the prices. The Raman govt accepted it silently. It was a huge loss to people whose livelihoods depend on the income from forest produce.
 
Forest Produce    Old Support Price/Rupees   New Support Price   Change Percentage
Coloured Lac       230                                           100                              56.52
Kusumi Lac          320                                           100                              53.13
Tamarind              22                                             18                               18.6
Karanj seed         20                                             18                                10
Mahua                 22                                              20                                9.09
Chironji               100                                             60                               40
Harra                   11                                               8                                 27.27
 
In the case of small forest produce, 75% of the cost is given by the centre and 25% by the state govt. In a state which has 40% forest area and 32% Adivasi population, most tribal population makes a living from this produce. The CM should’ve taken some action here. The govt showed no compassion.
 
In the mining operations being carried out by NMDC in the state since 1968, only 31 Adivasis have been given permanent jobs. All others are paid contractual wages when it is on their land that these mines are operating.
 
The pipelines carrying the iron ore mined by NMDC from Kirandul to Vishakhapatnam were made by Essar. The poisonous residue from this mine flows into Shankini and Dankini rivers. With the rivers polluted, the cattle is dying, the land has become barren and the environment of more than 52 tribal villages has worsened.
 
The Chattisgarh government brought a law in the legislative assembly which allowed them to acquire Adivasi land more easily. Now with the mutual consent of the govt, it can give this land to any industrialist. Instead of paying the compensation (four times the actual value of land) to the tribals, the promises of employment in factories or mines are made but never fulfilled. The plight of tribals in areas like Bastar, Dantewada, Jagdalpur, Kanta, Bijapur and Narayanpur can be easily seen.
 
In the last two decade, 30,000 girls from Bastar have been caught in the human trafficking net. The govt is not investigating the matter, they are not searching for them, they are not helping the families of these missing girls, they are not trying to stop it and nor are they trying to prevent it. Here, incidences of the police holding tribal girls hostage have come forward. But the Raman government, instead of punishing these police officials, promotes and rewards such people.
 
Farming tools are weapons for the police
Farm tools used by tribals are considered dangerous weapons by the Chattisgarh police. According to the Arms Act, 1959, it is clearly stated that farming tools are not counted as weapons. Despite these, many people have been booked under the Arms Act for keeping these tools. About 2000 Adivasis have been booked for having connections with Maoists under this Act.
 
Village tribals are being forcibly jailed in large numbers. The police and paramilitary forces enter their houses without warrants and steal money, goats, poultry, ducks and their belongings. They are threatened that if they said a word to anybody, their children will be killed. For every tribal arrested, the policeman gets a reward.
 
Around 3000 schools have been shut in Adivasi areas. The PESA law is being violated openly. If an industry fails, the land acquired for the said industry has to be returned to the original owner within five years. The Tata plant is yet to do so. These areas have been put in the land bank. This proves that the government is greedy and corrupt.
 
In the tribal areas where the fifth schedule is applicable, the Tribal Council of Ministers is formulated for constitutional facilitation. The president of this council has to be a tribal. But in Chhattisgarh, Chief Minister Raman Singh has always been the president of this council.
 
The death of DD cameraman raises a lot of questions
Two security guards and DD cameraman Achyutananda Sahu were killed in a crossfire between security forces and Maoists in Aranpur, 30 kms from Dantewada. Incidentally, it was reported that Doordarshan was asked to film a documentary in Bastar to showcase the good work being done by the government in the area. Anybody being killed on the line of duty is saddening but the death of the cameraman in the Naxal ambush raises a lot of questions.

Everyone in Bastar knows that Naxals and Police are often caught in a crossfire but journalists are never targeted. Maoists in Bastar had even released a letter stating that journalists are free to report from any area in the region and nobody will stop them. They had also instructed them to not come with any security force. The situation is that policemen can visit these areas by wearing plain clothes and with a vehicle which has a Press stamp. Sending journalists with police forces in such a situation is precarious. The govt never allows journalists to visit these areas by claiming that it is a security risk. Then why was the DD team allowed to go? Was it because they were going to make a report describing the governments work? Using this event as a shield, the govt will make reporting from these areas even more difficult.
 
Gun-toting Indian government
The tribals of Ambujman and Jagargunda know the Indian government only in the form of a gun. They have seen the Indian govt’s service only in the form of Army jawans. They have known Indian govt as the person who enters their village, snatches their loved ones away and sometimes kills them. When a journalist or a social activist reaches such a village after escaping the eyes of the police or security forces, they greet the unarmed person with hopeful eyes and asks them, “Are you from the Indian government? Can you send them a message from us that we are not Naxals and stop putting us in jails. Bring a machine to our village, we want to vote.” They point to a school building and say, “Ask someone to come here, we want to learn.” If someone falls sick in the areas which don’t have roads, the nearest dispensary is 20 kms away and the 20 kms in a jungle are more difficult than 200 kms in the city.
 
We want to vote but nobody comes here
Talking about his experience of meeting people from remote villages, Journalist Kamal Shukla says, “Bastar’s Adivasis want to vote, they want to participate in the electoral celebrations but the government doesn’t want to consider them as Indians. Polling booths are made at a distance of 40 kms from these villages. The elections are now limited only to urban areas. The govt and police spread the fake news that villagers don’t want to vote due to Maoists. Police says that Maoists cut off the fingers of voters from these villages even though no such case has been reported so far. The govt has conspired to keep the media and Adivasis away from the elections.”
 
Media distancing itself from Bastar
No major media house has a permanent correspondent in this area. Even everyday news is not reported from this region, forget election coverage. The reporters who do work for newspapers either don’t get good salaries or don’t get the necessary attention. The few journalists who did want to visit the state to cover the elections are now changing their plans after the DD cameraman’s death. Some due to fear and others due to Police interference.
 
Journalist Rajkumar Soni, who wrote on tribal issues, has been transferred to Coimbatore before the election. Two Chattisgarh journalists, Renu Awasthi and Shailendra Vishwakarma committed suicide after being mentally tortured. Their case is gathering dust. A journalist from New York, Siddhartha Rai and independent journalist Kamal Shukla, who were covering elections in Bastar a few weeks ago, were harassed for hours in a police station and their cameras were searched.
 
In Bastar, life-threatening attacks on freedom of press and democracy continue.

[This article is an English translation of the original Hindi article]


Read Also:
Election Watch Chhattisgarh: No winners or losers in this non-starter election
 Whither Freedom: The Chhatisgarh attack on journalists
 Attacking the Defenders of Freedom, Chhatisgarh: Lawyers and Journos being Forced Out
Where every human rights activist is labelled a Maoist: Chhatisgarh

 

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"Killer Kalluri go back": Protest over IIMC invite to cop slammed by NHRC for serious rights violations in Bastar

22 May 2017
The democratic forces, organizations and the thinking minds of IIMC took part in a spirited protest today against the invitation extended to notorious ex-IG Kalluri by the IIMC administration to take part in a seminar. To start with, since last two days, there were several attempts on the part of the organizers to confuse/conceal Kalluri’s invitation. Immediately after the declaration of the protest, Kalluri’s name was dropped from the poster. There were also threats of counter-mobilisation by the BJP goons. But undeterred, as we reached the gates of IIMC at 11am, the site echoed with slogans of “Killer Kalluri Go Back”!



There was however no sign of him till 3pm and then suddenly we were told that he has “appeared” on the stage. It was informed by several residents of IIMC that he had been lodged much earlier inside IIMC campus by the organizers so as to avoid the protestors. We continued our protest outside. Now the question is why is Mr. Kalluri so scared of even placards, slogans and questions from students? What makes him scared to face protests? Why couldn’t the so called “Bastar tiger” muster enough courage to even face largely a group of students?



That’s because our questions are far more heavier than his smug arrogance. It’s because we have the power to tear apart the halo and show the real horror that he has unleashed in Bastar while he was an IG there. The protesters today made it clear that it is simply unacceptable to invite an ex-IG who is the architect of a Satya Judgment type vigilante gang; one who has presided over numerous instances of fake encounters, gang-rapes, torture and fake arrests of the adivasis; and one who has been sent on “long leave” after an investigation by the NHRC due to gross human right violations. He has also in fact presided over the threats, attacks and hounding of all those voices that have dared to expose his bloody tenure. This includes Soni Sori, Lingaram Kodopi, Bela Bhatia, Nandini Sundar and so on. He even went to the extent of telling a journalist, Kamal Shukla, “Either leave journalism, or leave Bastar.” The protestors today condemned the IIMC administration for inviting such a character to lecture on “journalism”. We condemned the design of the IIMC administration to produce stenographers instead of journalists, ones who will jot ask question, who will not look for the truth, but will parrot the likes of Kalluri. The protestors raised their voice against not just the individual or an institution, but also demanded an end to the war on people being waged by the state-corporate nexus to facilitate the loot of resources at the cost of thousands of adivasi lives and livelihood. Kalluri has just been one of its hit-men. We thereby reiterated our demand of ending Operation Green Hunt and pledged to stand by the struggle of the adivasis for their jal-jangal-jameen.

 
Some have put forth the question as to why did we protest Kalluri’s invitation to IIMC. They asked, aren’t we who talk about free speech not being hypocritical here? Well, Kalluri throttled free speech every day in Bastar, he arrested activists and journalists, he sent goons to intimidate anyone speaking out. The express agenda being to make the ongoing brutal war against adivasis a war without witness. In such a context to protest against Kalluri, in fact, becomes an act of defending free speech, and not the other way around. Ultimately, the fight for free speech is fundamentally a fight against power.

From Bastar Solidarity Network – Delhi Chapter, we congratulate and salute all those who stood their ground today and raised their fists, their placards and their slogans against the killer Kalluri, against Operation Green Hunt, against the puppet IIMC administration and the powers that be.

Courtesy: Kafila.online
 

"Killer Kalluri go back": Protest over IIMC invite to cop slammed by NHRC for serious rights violations in Bastar

The democratic forces, organizations and the thinking minds of IIMC took part in a spirited protest today against the invitation extended to notorious ex-IG Kalluri by the IIMC administration to take part in a seminar. To start with, since last two days, there were several attempts on the part of the organizers to confuse/conceal Kalluri’s invitation. Immediately after the declaration of the protest, Kalluri’s name was dropped from the poster. There were also threats of counter-mobilisation by the BJP goons. But undeterred, as we reached the gates of IIMC at 11am, the site echoed with slogans of “Killer Kalluri Go Back”!



There was however no sign of him till 3pm and then suddenly we were told that he has “appeared” on the stage. It was informed by several residents of IIMC that he had been lodged much earlier inside IIMC campus by the organizers so as to avoid the protestors. We continued our protest outside. Now the question is why is Mr. Kalluri so scared of even placards, slogans and questions from students? What makes him scared to face protests? Why couldn’t the so called “Bastar tiger” muster enough courage to even face largely a group of students?



That’s because our questions are far more heavier than his smug arrogance. It’s because we have the power to tear apart the halo and show the real horror that he has unleashed in Bastar while he was an IG there. The protesters today made it clear that it is simply unacceptable to invite an ex-IG who is the architect of a Satya Judgment type vigilante gang; one who has presided over numerous instances of fake encounters, gang-rapes, torture and fake arrests of the adivasis; and one who has been sent on “long leave” after an investigation by the NHRC due to gross human right violations. He has also in fact presided over the threats, attacks and hounding of all those voices that have dared to expose his bloody tenure. This includes Soni Sori, Lingaram Kodopi, Bela Bhatia, Nandini Sundar and so on. He even went to the extent of telling a journalist, Kamal Shukla, “Either leave journalism, or leave Bastar.” The protestors today condemned the IIMC administration for inviting such a character to lecture on “journalism”. We condemned the design of the IIMC administration to produce stenographers instead of journalists, ones who will jot ask question, who will not look for the truth, but will parrot the likes of Kalluri. The protestors raised their voice against not just the individual or an institution, but also demanded an end to the war on people being waged by the state-corporate nexus to facilitate the loot of resources at the cost of thousands of adivasi lives and livelihood. Kalluri has just been one of its hit-men. We thereby reiterated our demand of ending Operation Green Hunt and pledged to stand by the struggle of the adivasis for their jal-jangal-jameen.

 
Some have put forth the question as to why did we protest Kalluri’s invitation to IIMC. They asked, aren’t we who talk about free speech not being hypocritical here? Well, Kalluri throttled free speech every day in Bastar, he arrested activists and journalists, he sent goons to intimidate anyone speaking out. The express agenda being to make the ongoing brutal war against adivasis a war without witness. In such a context to protest against Kalluri, in fact, becomes an act of defending free speech, and not the other way around. Ultimately, the fight for free speech is fundamentally a fight against power.

From Bastar Solidarity Network – Delhi Chapter, we congratulate and salute all those who stood their ground today and raised their fists, their placards and their slogans against the killer Kalluri, against Operation Green Hunt, against the puppet IIMC administration and the powers that be.

Courtesy: Kafila.online
 

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Deputy Jailer suspended for Social Media post on Tribal’s Torture: Chhattisgarh

07 May 2017

Varsha Dongre, who deleted her post later, called for introspection and has now been suspended.



 
A deputy jailer, posted at the central jail in Chhattisgarh’s capital city Raipur, was suspended on Saturday for a social media post alleging torture of a tribal women by the security forces in the state’s Maoist insurgency-hit Bastar region. Varsha Dongre, the deputy jailer of Raipur central jail, had claimed in a social media post last week that she had seen tribal girls being stripped at police stations in Bastar and tortured.

“I have seen the torture. The tribal girls were given electric shocks on their breasts and wrists. I have seen the marks and I was horrified. Why are such small tribal girls being subjected to third-degree torture? Our constitution and law system do not allow such inhuman torture. It’s time for us to introspect and the truth will come out. The people getting killed on both sides (during the Maoists-Security forces conflict in Bastar) are Indians. The capitalistic system is being forced into Bastar, villages are being burnt, tribal women are being raped. Is it really being done to end the Maoism?” Ms. Dongre had alleged in her post after the Maoist attack on the CRPF in Sukma which had led to the death of 25 CRPF men.

Ms. Dongre had deleted the post after it went viral on social media. However, the jail department of Chhattisgarh police had ordered an inquiry against her.

“Ms. Varsha Dongre has been suspended and charge-sheeted after it was found in a preliminary inquiry that her conduct was in violation of service rules and other rules,” Giridhari Nayak, the Director General of Police, Jail administration, Chhattisgarh police, told The Hindu.

An officer of the same department revealed on the condition of anonymity that it was Ms. Dongre’s social media post which led to her suspension as its language was “extremely offensive”. Known to be an upright officer, Ms. Dongre had also opined that the fifth schedule of the Indian constitution should be applied in tribal areas and the “so-called development” should not be imposed on tribals.

“The tribals do not want the Maoists. They want the Maoism to end but the way our country’s security forces are targeting the dignity of their women and daughters, burning their houses and slapping false cases against them, where will they go for justice?” the suspended deputy jailer had alleged in her post.

Ms. Dongre could not be reached for her reaction despite repeated attempts.

Background

 "I am a witness to the torture of minor tribal girls ... In the police stations, women personnel have stripped and tortured girls as old as 14 and 16 ... They were given electric shock on their hands and breasts. I have seen the marks ... I was horrified ... Why third-degree torture on minors? I have given directions for their treatment", Varsha Dongre, deputy jailer of Raipur Central Jail, recently wrote in a post in Hindi.

"We need to introspect, because those who are getting killed in either side of this war in Bastar are our own people. The capitalist system is being forced on Bastar, tribals are being pushed out of their lands, their villages are being burnt, women raped — all this to grab land and forests. All this isn't being done to end Naxalism", she added.

Coming in the wake of the Maoist attack on CRPF jawans in Sukma district of the state, her comments were shared widely on social media. The jail department was forced to order of a probe, based on her allegations.

"The tribals can't leave this place as it is their land but when law-enforcers target women and minor girls and false case are registered, where do the victims go for justice?" she went on. "The CBI report says it, the court says it — this is the reality. When human rights workers or journalists tell the truth, they are sent to jail. If everything is fine in tribal lands, why government is so afraid and why people are not allowed to go there?"

Dongre invoked India's constitution to say it doesn't allow anyone the right to harass and torture another citizen. "A particular kind of development can't be thrust on the adivasis," she said. "Farmers and jawans are brothers, they shouldn't kill each other."

Deputy Jailer suspended for Social Media post on Tribal’s Torture: Chhattisgarh

Varsha Dongre, who deleted her post later, called for introspection and has now been suspended.



 
A deputy jailer, posted at the central jail in Chhattisgarh’s capital city Raipur, was suspended on Saturday for a social media post alleging torture of a tribal women by the security forces in the state’s Maoist insurgency-hit Bastar region. Varsha Dongre, the deputy jailer of Raipur central jail, had claimed in a social media post last week that she had seen tribal girls being stripped at police stations in Bastar and tortured.

“I have seen the torture. The tribal girls were given electric shocks on their breasts and wrists. I have seen the marks and I was horrified. Why are such small tribal girls being subjected to third-degree torture? Our constitution and law system do not allow such inhuman torture. It’s time for us to introspect and the truth will come out. The people getting killed on both sides (during the Maoists-Security forces conflict in Bastar) are Indians. The capitalistic system is being forced into Bastar, villages are being burnt, tribal women are being raped. Is it really being done to end the Maoism?” Ms. Dongre had alleged in her post after the Maoist attack on the CRPF in Sukma which had led to the death of 25 CRPF men.

Ms. Dongre had deleted the post after it went viral on social media. However, the jail department of Chhattisgarh police had ordered an inquiry against her.

“Ms. Varsha Dongre has been suspended and charge-sheeted after it was found in a preliminary inquiry that her conduct was in violation of service rules and other rules,” Giridhari Nayak, the Director General of Police, Jail administration, Chhattisgarh police, told The Hindu.

An officer of the same department revealed on the condition of anonymity that it was Ms. Dongre’s social media post which led to her suspension as its language was “extremely offensive”. Known to be an upright officer, Ms. Dongre had also opined that the fifth schedule of the Indian constitution should be applied in tribal areas and the “so-called development” should not be imposed on tribals.

“The tribals do not want the Maoists. They want the Maoism to end but the way our country’s security forces are targeting the dignity of their women and daughters, burning their houses and slapping false cases against them, where will they go for justice?” the suspended deputy jailer had alleged in her post.

Ms. Dongre could not be reached for her reaction despite repeated attempts.

Background

 "I am a witness to the torture of minor tribal girls ... In the police stations, women personnel have stripped and tortured girls as old as 14 and 16 ... They were given electric shock on their hands and breasts. I have seen the marks ... I was horrified ... Why third-degree torture on minors? I have given directions for their treatment", Varsha Dongre, deputy jailer of Raipur Central Jail, recently wrote in a post in Hindi.

"We need to introspect, because those who are getting killed in either side of this war in Bastar are our own people. The capitalist system is being forced on Bastar, tribals are being pushed out of their lands, their villages are being burnt, women raped — all this to grab land and forests. All this isn't being done to end Naxalism", she added.

Coming in the wake of the Maoist attack on CRPF jawans in Sukma district of the state, her comments were shared widely on social media. The jail department was forced to order of a probe, based on her allegations.

"The tribals can't leave this place as it is their land but when law-enforcers target women and minor girls and false case are registered, where do the victims go for justice?" she went on. "The CBI report says it, the court says it — this is the reality. When human rights workers or journalists tell the truth, they are sent to jail. If everything is fine in tribal lands, why government is so afraid and why people are not allowed to go there?"

Dongre invoked India's constitution to say it doesn't allow anyone the right to harass and torture another citizen. "A particular kind of development can't be thrust on the adivasis," she said. "Farmers and jawans are brothers, they shouldn't kill each other."

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Chhattisgarh govt submits a 6-point plan to NHRC to ensure protection of human rights in Bastar

09 Feb 2017

Training workshops will warn police officers that human rights violations will invite consequences


Bastar Legal Aid Group

The Chhattisgarh government has submitted to the National Human Rights Commission a 6-point plan to ensure that human rights are adequately protected in the Bastar division of the state.

As part of the promised action plan, the state government has issued standing instructions to the Special DGP/Additional DGP (Naxal Operations) to immediately recommend action to the Additional DGP (CID) in any case of gross violation of human rights wherein the action is found to be slow, lacking or inadequate at lower levels.

The other measures include:

Director General of Police (DGP) to organise training and orientation of the police force posted in Bastar division to sensitizes them on the human rights issues and to ensure that human rights are not violated in the course of their duties;

All police officers to ensure that human rights are not violated in the course of their work, be it in Naxal affected areas or elsewhere. The officers must be warned that human rights violations will invite consequences. They would also be responsible for ensuring compliance among other police personnel under their command;

There will be a clear, separate entry in the Annual Performance Assessment of All Indian Police Services (IPS) and State Police Service (SPS) officers about their performance on human rights issues;

A district level Human Rights Protection Committee headed by a District Magistrate/Collector has been constituted in each of the seven Naxal affected districts of Bastar to receive complaints on human rights issues and to make suggestions to the state government for taking necessary action. This committee comprises six district level administrative, police, law officers and two- three eminent citizens;

A State Human Rights Protection Committee has been constituted under the chairmanship of secretary, General Administration Department. This will consider only those cases which has been not been disposed off at the district level or where the complainant is not satisfied with the action taken by the District Committee. This committee comprises seven senior level administrative, police, law officers and two-three eminent citizens/NGO representatives.

Chhattisgarh govt submits a 6-point plan to NHRC to ensure protection of human rights in Bastar

Training workshops will warn police officers that human rights violations will invite consequences


Bastar Legal Aid Group

The Chhattisgarh government has submitted to the National Human Rights Commission a 6-point plan to ensure that human rights are adequately protected in the Bastar division of the state.

As part of the promised action plan, the state government has issued standing instructions to the Special DGP/Additional DGP (Naxal Operations) to immediately recommend action to the Additional DGP (CID) in any case of gross violation of human rights wherein the action is found to be slow, lacking or inadequate at lower levels.

The other measures include:

Director General of Police (DGP) to organise training and orientation of the police force posted in Bastar division to sensitizes them on the human rights issues and to ensure that human rights are not violated in the course of their duties;

All police officers to ensure that human rights are not violated in the course of their work, be it in Naxal affected areas or elsewhere. The officers must be warned that human rights violations will invite consequences. They would also be responsible for ensuring compliance among other police personnel under their command;

There will be a clear, separate entry in the Annual Performance Assessment of All Indian Police Services (IPS) and State Police Service (SPS) officers about their performance on human rights issues;

A district level Human Rights Protection Committee headed by a District Magistrate/Collector has been constituted in each of the seven Naxal affected districts of Bastar to receive complaints on human rights issues and to make suggestions to the state government for taking necessary action. This committee comprises six district level administrative, police, law officers and two- three eminent citizens;

A State Human Rights Protection Committee has been constituted under the chairmanship of secretary, General Administration Department. This will consider only those cases which has been not been disposed off at the district level or where the complainant is not satisfied with the action taken by the District Committee. This committee comprises seven senior level administrative, police, law officers and two-three eminent citizens/NGO representatives.

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The Struggle for Jal, Jungle, Jameen

07 Feb 2017

Kunjam reminds us that the adivasis are fighting for the right to their way of life.




Manish Kunjam, a leader of Communist Party of India (CPI), recounts the horrors of Bastar; where the State has become synonymous to oppression. He talks in detail about the police harassment and false cases being framed against activists.

Kunjam was elected as an MLA in the early 90s. He was recently attacked in his office in Jagdalpur by 25 young men from AGNI (a vigilante group supported by the police to harass activists in Bastar region). He has been asked to leave Bastar repeatedly but has stayed firm. Speaking about the increasing violence at the hands of the police over the last couple of years under the regime of IG SRP Kalluri and his cohorts, Kunjam talks about the relationship between land and the struggle waged by adivasis for decades. The right to life with dignity and the fight against displacement have been portrayed as insurgency problem in central India. Contesting this, Kunjam reminds us that the adivasis are fighting for protecting their lives from the corporates and development ‘mafia’.

See the coverage of feminist historian Uma Chakravarti's talk at the Indian Social Action Forum's (INSAF) event 'Bearing Witness: Voices from Bastar', here .

Courtesy: Newsclick.in

The Struggle for Jal, Jungle, Jameen

Kunjam reminds us that the adivasis are fighting for the right to their way of life.




Manish Kunjam, a leader of Communist Party of India (CPI), recounts the horrors of Bastar; where the State has become synonymous to oppression. He talks in detail about the police harassment and false cases being framed against activists.

Kunjam was elected as an MLA in the early 90s. He was recently attacked in his office in Jagdalpur by 25 young men from AGNI (a vigilante group supported by the police to harass activists in Bastar region). He has been asked to leave Bastar repeatedly but has stayed firm. Speaking about the increasing violence at the hands of the police over the last couple of years under the regime of IG SRP Kalluri and his cohorts, Kunjam talks about the relationship between land and the struggle waged by adivasis for decades. The right to life with dignity and the fight against displacement have been portrayed as insurgency problem in central India. Contesting this, Kunjam reminds us that the adivasis are fighting for protecting their lives from the corporates and development ‘mafia’.

See the coverage of feminist historian Uma Chakravarti's talk at the Indian Social Action Forum's (INSAF) event 'Bearing Witness: Voices from Bastar', here .

Courtesy: Newsclick.in

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F U Kalluri: Going, Going… Gone?

06 Feb 2017

A look at a decade of the Kalluri model of policing in Chhattisgarh


Exchange of SMSs between Kalluri and advocate Piyoli upon demanding security for Bela Bhatia / DailyO
 
On 2nd February, IG SRP Kalluri wrote on a Whatsapp group, “Bela Bhatia wins.” He has been asked to go on “long leave” by the Chhattisgarh State government. It appears that the reign of Kalluri may be coming to a belated, but surely ignominious, end. In light of this, it is important to look at the hallmarks of his career as a police officer who embodied blanket impunity, and flaunted it. At a time when police officers across the country are bent on imitating the reign of terror unleashed by the likes of Kalluri and his cohorts, we need to remind ourselves of what the decade long career in Bastar entailed.

Ledha Bai's statement  against SRP Kalluri in 2007. Ledha Bai is an adivasi woman who was raped in police custody and threatened with death after the police killed her husband in front of her for, alleging he was a Maoist.
"When I reached the Shankargarh police station, I saw Kalluri sahib who, upon seeing me, asked if I knew who he was. Then I said, “You are Kalluri Sahib. I made my husband surrender before you and you got him shot.” Then Kalluri slapped me twice. I was carrying my daughter. I fell on the ground with my daughter. Kalluri asked me to take off my clothes. When I refused, two policemen twisted my father’s arms and made him stand up, and started beating him. They beat my father mercilessly. Then Brijesh Tiwari unfastened my saree and took off all the other garments. When I was resisting the taking off of my clothes, they started hitting my father forcefully. I took off my clothes. They completely stripped me. They stripped me. My child was wailing uncontrollably on the ground. Then Kalluri said, “Take her inside the room, I will interrogate her.” In my nude condition, they took me inside the room in the police station. Then Kalluri raped me inside the police station."
 
Soni Sori in a letter  from appealing for justice in 2011.
“On the night of 8.10.2011, from 12 midnight to 2:30 am, SP Ankit Garg called me into a room in the police station, gave me electric shocks (current shock), took my clothes off and severely tortured me”
Aman Sethi's article  in the Hindu in 2012:
“On Republic Day, officer Ankit Garwas awarded the Police Medal for Gallantry for his role in a counterinsurgency operation in October 9, 2010, in which about 250 members of the State's Special Task Force and district police ambushed Maoist guerrillas in Mahasamund district […] Mr. Garg was subsequently appointed Superintendent of Police of Dantewada when Ms. Sori was arrested in October 2011 and accused of acting as a Maoist courier.”
 
icf 2.jpg
Chattisgarh police burning effigies of activists in Bastar / CatchNews

According to an article  in the Tribune in April 2015, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said:
“We have decided to give them [security personnel] the gallantry award. We have also finalised other facilities to be given (to their family members).” 
Shreya, an activist interviewed by Scroll  in January:
“Why is it that it is talking only about compensation and not about disciplinary actions for allowing these crimes to happen?” said Shreya, who was a part of one of the civil society fact-finding teams that brought to light the rapes, which occured in 2015 and 2016.
The Action Group of National Integration (AGNI) on “white-collared Naxals”, quoted in Scroll :
While Kalluri was speaking to the media, in another part of the city, a civil vigilante group called AGNI said it would step up its actions to stop “white-collared Naxals” from creating hurdles to Bastar’s development. They were referring to human rights activists and others who have criticised violations by the security forces in the region.
 
icf 3.jpg
Kalluri with AGNI members / CatchNews

Kalluri, in an interview  with NDTV last year:
“Activists are enemies because they incite people against democracy, and question the sovereignty and universality of India. We oppose their anti-national brigade.”
In an article  from the National Herald on Mission 2017:
“[Kalyani Menon] Sen had earlier pointed out that “Defying strictures by the Supreme Court and the NHRC, Kalluri publicly announced the launch of “Mission 2017”, an all-out vendetta against all those who were calling the state to account.”
The following response  from Kalluri is one of a series of abuses and threats hurled at activists and human rights defenders via text messages when they expressed their concern about the hounding of activist Bela Bhatia:
“Maoists and their dogs like you will be stoned out of Bastar. Beware.”
 
icf 4.jpg
SRP Kalluri / Arya Sharma, Catch News

In 2013, SRP Kalluri was conferred the President’s Police Medal for Meritorious Service, just like Ankit Garg, another officer who was given the Gallantry Award despite being accused of rape in Soni Sori’s case. These instances of abuse of power under Kalluri's regime in Dantewada, and other districts in the Bastar division, paints a picture of callous disregard for law and order and zero accountability for his actions. Let us not forget that the Kalluri model of policing was supported by the structures of the state and had allowances from the highest corridors of power. Today, when we dare to rejoice his removal from positions of authority in Bastar, we need to simultaneously demand that each instance of abuse of power be investigated and the guilty held accountable. Else, several such Kalluris are bound follow the model and enjoy the impunity that the system permits in the name of democracy.

 
 

F U Kalluri: Going, Going… Gone?

A look at a decade of the Kalluri model of policing in Chhattisgarh


Exchange of SMSs between Kalluri and advocate Piyoli upon demanding security for Bela Bhatia / DailyO
 
On 2nd February, IG SRP Kalluri wrote on a Whatsapp group, “Bela Bhatia wins.” He has been asked to go on “long leave” by the Chhattisgarh State government. It appears that the reign of Kalluri may be coming to a belated, but surely ignominious, end. In light of this, it is important to look at the hallmarks of his career as a police officer who embodied blanket impunity, and flaunted it. At a time when police officers across the country are bent on imitating the reign of terror unleashed by the likes of Kalluri and his cohorts, we need to remind ourselves of what the decade long career in Bastar entailed.

Ledha Bai's statement  against SRP Kalluri in 2007. Ledha Bai is an adivasi woman who was raped in police custody and threatened with death after the police killed her husband in front of her for, alleging he was a Maoist.
"When I reached the Shankargarh police station, I saw Kalluri sahib who, upon seeing me, asked if I knew who he was. Then I said, “You are Kalluri Sahib. I made my husband surrender before you and you got him shot.” Then Kalluri slapped me twice. I was carrying my daughter. I fell on the ground with my daughter. Kalluri asked me to take off my clothes. When I refused, two policemen twisted my father’s arms and made him stand up, and started beating him. They beat my father mercilessly. Then Brijesh Tiwari unfastened my saree and took off all the other garments. When I was resisting the taking off of my clothes, they started hitting my father forcefully. I took off my clothes. They completely stripped me. They stripped me. My child was wailing uncontrollably on the ground. Then Kalluri said, “Take her inside the room, I will interrogate her.” In my nude condition, they took me inside the room in the police station. Then Kalluri raped me inside the police station."
 
Soni Sori in a letter  from appealing for justice in 2011.
“On the night of 8.10.2011, from 12 midnight to 2:30 am, SP Ankit Garg called me into a room in the police station, gave me electric shocks (current shock), took my clothes off and severely tortured me”
Aman Sethi's article  in the Hindu in 2012:
“On Republic Day, officer Ankit Garwas awarded the Police Medal for Gallantry for his role in a counterinsurgency operation in October 9, 2010, in which about 250 members of the State's Special Task Force and district police ambushed Maoist guerrillas in Mahasamund district […] Mr. Garg was subsequently appointed Superintendent of Police of Dantewada when Ms. Sori was arrested in October 2011 and accused of acting as a Maoist courier.”
 
icf 2.jpg
Chattisgarh police burning effigies of activists in Bastar / CatchNews

According to an article  in the Tribune in April 2015, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said:
“We have decided to give them [security personnel] the gallantry award. We have also finalised other facilities to be given (to their family members).” 
Shreya, an activist interviewed by Scroll  in January:
“Why is it that it is talking only about compensation and not about disciplinary actions for allowing these crimes to happen?” said Shreya, who was a part of one of the civil society fact-finding teams that brought to light the rapes, which occured in 2015 and 2016.
The Action Group of National Integration (AGNI) on “white-collared Naxals”, quoted in Scroll :
While Kalluri was speaking to the media, in another part of the city, a civil vigilante group called AGNI said it would step up its actions to stop “white-collared Naxals” from creating hurdles to Bastar’s development. They were referring to human rights activists and others who have criticised violations by the security forces in the region.
 
icf 3.jpg
Kalluri with AGNI members / CatchNews

Kalluri, in an interview  with NDTV last year:
“Activists are enemies because they incite people against democracy, and question the sovereignty and universality of India. We oppose their anti-national brigade.”
In an article  from the National Herald on Mission 2017:
“[Kalyani Menon] Sen had earlier pointed out that “Defying strictures by the Supreme Court and the NHRC, Kalluri publicly announced the launch of “Mission 2017”, an all-out vendetta against all those who were calling the state to account.”
The following response  from Kalluri is one of a series of abuses and threats hurled at activists and human rights defenders via text messages when they expressed their concern about the hounding of activist Bela Bhatia:
“Maoists and their dogs like you will be stoned out of Bastar. Beware.”
 
icf 4.jpg
SRP Kalluri / Arya Sharma, Catch News

In 2013, SRP Kalluri was conferred the President’s Police Medal for Meritorious Service, just like Ankit Garg, another officer who was given the Gallantry Award despite being accused of rape in Soni Sori’s case. These instances of abuse of power under Kalluri's regime in Dantewada, and other districts in the Bastar division, paints a picture of callous disregard for law and order and zero accountability for his actions. Let us not forget that the Kalluri model of policing was supported by the structures of the state and had allowances from the highest corridors of power. Today, when we dare to rejoice his removal from positions of authority in Bastar, we need to simultaneously demand that each instance of abuse of power be investigated and the guilty held accountable. Else, several such Kalluris are bound follow the model and enjoy the impunity that the system permits in the name of democracy.

 
 

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Chhattisgarh top cop Kalluri goes on medical leave, may not return to Bastar

02 Feb 2017
Controversial Bastar Inspector General of Police S R P Kalluri has proceeded on medical leave and is unlikely to return to his posting in the Maoist-affected region of Chhattisgarh, a highly placed source said on Thursday. Kalluri had been brought back in 2014 after being removed from his influential position earlier.

Kalluri
Image: News18

Sundarraj P, Dantewada deputy inspector general (DIG) of police has been put in charge of Bastar Range in south Chhattisgarh.

Kalluri has been a controversial figure and has had a running battle with civil rights activists and the media of the region. He was again in the news earlier this month after activist Bela Bhatia came under attack from a local outfit believed to be supporting the police in the fight against Maoists.

Kalluri has often been quoted telling journalists from outside the state that they were not welcome in the insurgency-hit region. Several journalists are still in jail in Chhattisgarh after being charged with complicity with Maoists. According to activists, these journalists have been framed.

Media reports state that Kalluri has been unwell for a while. In November last year, he was admitted to hospital with kidney and heart problems. An officer looked after the Bastar region while he was away on medical leave.

Top sources said this time Kalluri may not return to Bastar after he comes back from medical leave.


Related Articles:
1. "It doesn’t seem like the Chhattisgarh government is listening to the Supreme Court"
2. Chief Secretary, Chhattisgarh & IGP Bastar Summoned by NHRC
 

Chhattisgarh top cop Kalluri goes on medical leave, may not return to Bastar

Controversial Bastar Inspector General of Police S R P Kalluri has proceeded on medical leave and is unlikely to return to his posting in the Maoist-affected region of Chhattisgarh, a highly placed source said on Thursday. Kalluri had been brought back in 2014 after being removed from his influential position earlier.

Kalluri
Image: News18

Sundarraj P, Dantewada deputy inspector general (DIG) of police has been put in charge of Bastar Range in south Chhattisgarh.

Kalluri has been a controversial figure and has had a running battle with civil rights activists and the media of the region. He was again in the news earlier this month after activist Bela Bhatia came under attack from a local outfit believed to be supporting the police in the fight against Maoists.

Kalluri has often been quoted telling journalists from outside the state that they were not welcome in the insurgency-hit region. Several journalists are still in jail in Chhattisgarh after being charged with complicity with Maoists. According to activists, these journalists have been framed.

Media reports state that Kalluri has been unwell for a while. In November last year, he was admitted to hospital with kidney and heart problems. An officer looked after the Bastar region while he was away on medical leave.

Top sources said this time Kalluri may not return to Bastar after he comes back from medical leave.


Related Articles:
1. "It doesn’t seem like the Chhattisgarh government is listening to the Supreme Court"
2. Chief Secretary, Chhattisgarh & IGP Bastar Summoned by NHRC
 

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onwards

BEARING WITNESS : VOICES FROM BASTAR

Monday 30 January, 3-6 pm

Constitution Club of India (Dy. Speaker’s Hall, annexe)




Bastar in Chhattisgarh is the nursery where the Modi sarkar’s version of development – the offspring of the toxic marriage of corporate capitalism and militarised nationalism – is being carefully nurtured and brought to fruition.

The Maoist insurrection provides the perfect cover for the exploitation of Adivasi lands and forests, which are now defined not as part of India’s heritage of natural resources but as sources of profits for mining companies, businessmen and contractors. Bastar has been turned into a war zone where the Constitution is suspended and the rule of law does not exist even on paper. The police under the command of IG Bastar SRP Kalluri are brazen in their disregard for the Constitution and the rule of law, flouting all norms and procedures to establish a reign of terror and violence in the region.

Events over the last two years have shown how far the state is prepared to go in pushing this distorted version of development. Community leaders who question the actions of the police are arrested on vague charges and held for indefinite periods, with no access to courts or legal representation. Young Adivasis are picked up and forced to pose as “surrendered Maoists” or shot in cold blood and paraded as “Maoist commanders”. Police and paramilitary patrols roam the countryside, looting and plundering in the name of search and combing operations. Sexual violence against women is the strategy of choice to terrorise communities into silence.

Silence and invisibility are essential to the success of the Bastar model of development. The Bastar police has therefore launched a systematic campaign of intimidation and harassment against all those involved in investigating and exposing human rights violations in Bastar. Adivasi leaders, lawyers, media professionals, academics and researchers and social activists have all been targeted with threats, slander, false cases, illegal arrests and murderous attacks by the police and vigilante groups facilitated and patronised by them.

Soni Sori, Bela Bhatia and Shalini Gera are among the human rights defenders who are challenging the power of the state by breaking the silence and bearing witness to the attempted murder of democracy in Bastar.

We invite you to hear them speak about their lives and experiences in Bastar, and share the stories of resistance and resilience that the state is trying to silence and erase.
 

onwards

BEARING WITNESS : VOICES FROM BASTAR

Monday 30 January, 3-6 pm

Constitution Club of India (Dy. Speaker’s Hall, annexe)




Bastar in Chhattisgarh is the nursery where the Modi sarkar’s version of development – the offspring of the toxic marriage of corporate capitalism and militarised nationalism – is being carefully nurtured and brought to fruition.

The Maoist insurrection provides the perfect cover for the exploitation of Adivasi lands and forests, which are now defined not as part of India’s heritage of natural resources but as sources of profits for mining companies, businessmen and contractors. Bastar has been turned into a war zone where the Constitution is suspended and the rule of law does not exist even on paper. The police under the command of IG Bastar SRP Kalluri are brazen in their disregard for the Constitution and the rule of law, flouting all norms and procedures to establish a reign of terror and violence in the region.

Events over the last two years have shown how far the state is prepared to go in pushing this distorted version of development. Community leaders who question the actions of the police are arrested on vague charges and held for indefinite periods, with no access to courts or legal representation. Young Adivasis are picked up and forced to pose as “surrendered Maoists” or shot in cold blood and paraded as “Maoist commanders”. Police and paramilitary patrols roam the countryside, looting and plundering in the name of search and combing operations. Sexual violence against women is the strategy of choice to terrorise communities into silence.

Silence and invisibility are essential to the success of the Bastar model of development. The Bastar police has therefore launched a systematic campaign of intimidation and harassment against all those involved in investigating and exposing human rights violations in Bastar. Adivasi leaders, lawyers, media professionals, academics and researchers and social activists have all been targeted with threats, slander, false cases, illegal arrests and murderous attacks by the police and vigilante groups facilitated and patronised by them.

Soni Sori, Bela Bhatia and Shalini Gera are among the human rights defenders who are challenging the power of the state by breaking the silence and bearing witness to the attempted murder of democracy in Bastar.

We invite you to hear them speak about their lives and experiences in Bastar, and share the stories of resistance and resilience that the state is trying to silence and erase.
 

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