A little-known Delhi-based activists’ group, Bastar Solidarity Network (BSN), is being widely cited on prominent left-wing civil rights leaders on the social media to point that so far “more than 100 adivasis” have been killed in fake encounters in Bastar, Chhattisgarh, in the last 7 months, all to “facilitate the biggest land grab after Columbus.”
Calling the anti-Naxal operation as a “war unleashed” by the government to “wipe out the adivasis and hand over their mineral rich region to big multinational corporations (MNCs)”, the BSN in a statement has said, “The little information trickling out of Bastar reveals a sordid saga of pillage, killings, rapes and fake encounters.”
Pointing out that in the last seven months, “more than 100 adivasis” have been killed, the BSN says, the latest in the series is the “fake encounter” of two teenagers in Burgum. This happened following a “fierce encounter in Bastar between the state’s armed forces and Maoist guerillas”, it adds.
“As per the superintendent of police’s (SP’s) claims, the firing and cross firing continued for an hour after which the Maoists escaped to the forests. Subsequent searches of the area by the joint team led to the recovery of dead bodies of ‘two male Maoists’ and arms and ammunition”, BSN says, adding, “Post the killings, the state and its henchmen lauded themselves for the successful operations.”
Following this, says BSN, Agni, the local vigilante group, allegedly recently propped up by the state government and headed by a Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader, “complemented” the cops “for meeting the target of killing 100 Maoists as part of the Mission 2016”.
Calling this a “sadistic celebration”, BSN says, this could “could not cover up the fabricated story”, adding, “Several fact-finding teams, activists, local MLAs and journalists who reached the area were told by the villagers and relatives of the boys that they – Sonaku Ram (16) and Somadu (18) – were neither Maoists nor were they killed in any encounter.”
“The two had gone to a relative’s house on September 23, from where they were dragged out in full view of their relatives, taken to a nearby forest and shot in cold blood. The relatives who tried to stop the police when they were dragging the two out were brutally beaten up”, BSN says.
“The demand for an enquiry into the killings has remained unheeded”, it points out, adding, “In fact exemplifying the impunity to the armed forces and the private gangs in the area, one of the leaders of Agni said that the Maoist sympathisers and social activists would keep on shouting and Bastar police would continue targeting the insurgents.”
Especially targeting Bastar IG SRP Kalluri, BSN says, he has “started giving incentives to his officers to carry out such killings. The personnel involved in this encounter, for example, were given a reward of Rs 1 lakh each.” Meanwhile, it adds, “Several such fake encounters have been brought to light by independent fact finding teams and journalists.”
To prove its point, BSN gives the example of the death of 23 year old Madkam Hidme, who, according to the state government was killed on June 13 in a fierce gun battle with Maoists, though Hidme’s parents say she was “dragged from her home on June 13 by the forces.”
In a second example on July 5, BSN sites the instance of Situ Hemla, a tribal villager in Bastar, while he was working in his fields, was abducted by a team of security jawans along with others who had their faces covered. Later his dead body was found to be hanging from a tree.
Then, on August 16, a 19 year old adivasi named Arjun Kashyap was killed in a “fake encounter” and then declared a dreaded Maoist leader. “The ridiculousness of the state’s claims can be gauged from the fact that Arjun was out on bail”, granted “he was not the same person as named in a police FIR.” According to BSN, “Sensing a possible defeat in the court case, the authorities simply decided to bump him off”, says claims.