Over the last six months, human rights activists in Bastar, Chhattisgarh have faced crackdown by the police and self-styled vigilante groups, Amnesty International India said on Tuesday
GN Bureau | April 19, 2016
The Amnesty International India report ‘Blackout in Bastar: Human Rights Defenders Under Threat’ describes how journalists, lawyers and activists have been harassed, attacked and locked up for investigating excesses by security forces and seeking justice for human rights abuses.
“Over and over again, Chhattisgarh authorities have stood by and watched as their critics are intimidated and attacked by groups which seem to enjoy police support,” said Aakar Patel, executive director, Amnesty International India.
“Even worse, the police have themselves arrested journalists on trumped-up charges. The ominous message the state government is sending to defenders is clear: shut up or face the consequences.”
Amnesty International India said that four journalists – Santosh Yadav, Somaru Nag, Prabhat Singh and Deepak Jaiswal – have been arrested on politically motivated charges since July 2015. Another journalist – Malini Subramaniam – was forced to leave her home in February 2016 following attacks on her home and police pressure on her landlord.
In February, Adivasi activist Soni Sori had a chemical substance thrown at her face by unknown assailants who warned her not to file a complaint against a high-ranking Bastar police official for an alleged extrajudicial execution.
Amnesty International India said that Bela Bhatia, an independent researcher, has faced intimidation and harassment from so-called vigilante groups called the Samajik Ekta Manch (Social Unity Forum) and Mahila Ekta Manch (Women’s Unity Forum), for helping Adivasi women file police complaints of large-scale sexual assault and other abuses allegedly committed by security force personnel.
Isha Khandelwal, a lawyer from Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group, said, “Chhattisgarh has become like a police state now. What the police can’t do legally they make these vigilante groups and what’s really worrying is that these vigilante groups openly and blatantly threaten and harass people.
Chhattisgarh has become a very dangerous place for those who question the government.”
“The state police continues to use abusive laws like the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act to stifle the right to freedom of expression,” Aakar Patel said and added: “The Chhattisgarh government’s open contempt for constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms needs to end now.”
To know more read Amnesty International India's report
ALSO READ: Why Bastar women are scared
An underground rapper who grew up on Mumbai streets, Divine spins his music around his environment and poverty. His breakout single, ‘Meri Gully Mein’, along with fellow rapper Naezy caught Bollywood’s attention. The Hindi film ‘Gully Boy’ is inspired by their lives and gr
Anil Swarup, an IAS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre who retired in 2018, is a model bureaucrat who retained his optimism right till the end of service and exemplified dedication and commitment. His excitement at the opportunities that a job in the IAS provided is evident on every page of his new book publis
The question of reform of the civil services has been debated extensively at all levels at least over the last five to six decades after independence. Indeed, it was soon perceived that the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) may not be well equipped to deal with the problems of an emerging developing coun
Shouting vengeance at all and sundry while wriggling out of holes of our own making seems to be our very special national characteristic. Some recent instances are illustrative of this attribute. A number of business tycoons with thousands of crores of unresolved debts have fled abroad with the government
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) came into existence, based on a Resolution of the home ministry, dated April 1, 1963 – a sheer coincidence that it also happens to be April Fool’s day. Over the past few months, we have seen the CBI live up to its founding day with great zeal, being i
Gujarat was passing through a turbulent phase in the 1980s. The decade began middle class agitations against new reservation policies, and the caste friction turned communal under the watch of chief minister Madhavsinh Solanki, alienating majority of urban population on both counts. The ground was ripe for