The National Alliance of People’s Movements strongly condemns the multiple, brazen acts of intimidation directed at well-known academic and activist Bela Bhatia in Bastar including the most recent attack a few days back at her house in Parpa village by a belligerent mob of 30 goons. Clearly, this direct ultimatum and threat to Bela to “leave Parpa (Bastar) within 24 hrs” is a response of the non-state and state actors who feel threatened by her very presence in the region and her propensity to expose the massive human rights violations of the adivasis and activists by the police and para-military forces, in the name of combating extremism.
The wide spread support to Bela condemning not just the mob-hounding but also the extremely offensive, derogatory and abusive response of the Inspector General of Police, Mr. SRP Kalluri to many women-activists who sought Bela’s safety, pressurized the Chhattisgarh government to (partially) break its silence on Bastar, after a long–time, where intimidation of human rights activists has become the norm. However, while the Chief Minister has assured safety of Bela, his absolute silence on the mob violence, police atrocities, human rights abuses and the unruly-unlawful behavior of Mr. Kalluri is a matter of concern that we cannot take lightly.
It is well-known that Bela, an academic of international repute, a member of many Government Committees has for long been exposing the deplorable situation of the adivasis in the region, who are caught in a permanent war-like situation. She also accompanied the NHRC team which visited the adivasi hamlets a few weeks back to speak to the adivasi survivors of rape, sexual assault and violence, at the hands of the state’s security forces. The press statement issued by NHRC following the visit, highlighted the cases of rape and sexual assault of 16 adivasi women by the Chhattisgarh security forces and held the state government liable for worsening the state of affairs. Clearly, this did not go well with those in power who have unleashed a war on the adivasis to displace them of their land, to facilitate corporate loot of the minerals and natural resources in the name of ‘development’.
IGP Kalluri’s abusive behavior and repeated attempts to dodge the NHRC hearings only confirm his alleged proximity to and complicity in the human rights violations, as mentioned in NHRC’s statements as well. For more than a decade now, malicious violence and acts threatening life and liberty have been carried out by the State, with active support from state-sanctioned private militias. This has led to a complete cessation of the activities of civil society in these parts of Chhattisgarh. While many other journalists, lawyers and activists who have dared highlight the issue of state’s excesses have similarly been forced out of the district or false FIRs were foisted against them, the police’s inability to drive out Bela is indeed revealing and also a testament of her indomitable spirit.
It is imperative that the state government upholds rule of law in these areas and provides prompt redress to all those facing mob and police violence. NAPM demands the following:
- The state government must take full responsibility of securing the fundamental rights of Bela Bhatia and other human rights activists, lawyers to reside at a place of their choice and discharge their professional and constitutional responsibilities without fear of violence or false cases.
- Immediate suspension of IGP Mr. SRP Kalluri, registration of FIR against him for his widely-reported abusive and intimidatory messages and ensuring that he faces the NHRC soon to respond to charges against him.
- Independent Human rights activists, civil society groups, fact-finding missions must be allowed free and unrestricted access to all areas of Bastar and Chhattisgarh to assess the situation there and they must be provided full safety and security by the State.
- Chhattisgarh Govt. must drop false charges against the fact-finding team from Telangana who were on a fact-finding to Bastar. Govt. of CG must rescind the draconian Chhattisgarh Public Security Act, 2005.
- Chhattisgarh Government is constitutionally mandated to provide security and well-being to its tribal population in the scheduled areas and must promptly act against the security personnel who have been sexually assaulting and raping adivasi women, indulging in fake encounters and curb the police excesses in the state. This is the least that the State can do as it marks 67 years of this Grand Republic.
Endorsed by: National Team of Advisors, Convenors and Special Invitees of NAPM
Medha Patkar, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) and National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)
Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey and Shankar Singh Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) and National Campaign for People’s Right to Information and NAPM
Prafulla Samantara, – Lok Shakti Abhiyan & NAPM, Odisha;
Lingraj Azad – Samajwadi Jan Parishad – Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti, NAPM, Odisha;
Binayak Sen and Kavita Srivastava, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL)
Sandeep Pandey, Socialist Party and NAPM, Uttar Pradesh
Sudhir Vombatkere, Senior Activist, NAPM, Karnataka
Gabriele Dietrich, Penn Urimay Iyakkam, Madurai and NAPM, TN;
Geetha Ramakrishnan, Unorganised Sector Workers Federation, NAPM, TN;
Arul Doss, NAPM Tamil Nadu
Arundhati Dhuru, Nandlal Master, Manesh Gupta – NAPM, UP;
Richa Singh, Sangatin Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan, NAPM-UP
Vilayodi Venugopal, CR Neelakandan and Prof. Kusumam, NAPM, Kerala
Vimal Bhai – Matu Jan Sangathan, NAPM-Uttarakhand & Jabar Singh, NAPM, Uttarakhand;
Sister Celia – Domestic Workers Union & NAPM, Karnataka;
Rukmini V P, Garment Labour Union, NAPM, Karnataka;
Anand Mazgaonkar, Krishnakant – Paryavaran Suraksh Samiti, NAPM Gujarat;
Kamayani Swami, Ashish Ranjan – Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan & NAPM Bihar;
Mahendra Yadav – Kosi Navnirman Manch, NAPM Bihar;
Sister Dorothy, NAPM Bihar
Dayamani Barla, Aadivasi-Moolnivasi Astivtva Raksha Samiti, NAPM Jharkhand
Dr. Sunilam and Adv. Aradhna Bhargava – Kisan Sangharsh Samiti NAPM Madhya Pradesh
Bhupender Singh Rawat – Jan Sangharsh Vahini, NAPM, Delhi
Rajendra Ravi, Nanu Prasad, Madhuresh Kumar, Amit Kumar, Himshi Singh, Uma Kapari, Zaved Mazumder, NAPM, Delhi
Faisal Khan, Khudai Khidmatgar, NAPM Haryana
J S Walia, NAPM Haryana;
Kailash Meena, NAPM Rajasthan;
Amitava Mitra & Avik Saha, NAPM West Bengal;
- Chennaiah, Andhra Prdaesh Vyavasaya Vruttidarulua Union (APVVU) and NAPM-AP
Ramakrishnam Raju, United Forum for RTI and NAPM, AP
Suniti SR, Suhas Kolhekar, Prasad Bagwe – NAPM, Maharashtra;
Gautam Bandopadhyay, NAPM, Chhatisgarh
Anjali Bharadwaj, National Campaign for People’s Right to Information and NAPM
Kaladas Dahariya, RELAA, Chhatisgarh
Bilal Khan, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, Mumbai,
Meera Sanghamitra, NAPM Telangana-AP,