Monday, January 30, 2017

Attack on top academic: Why Chhattisgarh govt isn't acting against unruly mob, cops, ask Medha Patkar, Aruna Roy

Bela Bhatia
By Our Representative
A group of 35 well-known activists led by Narmada Bachao Andolan’s Medha Patkar and Magsaysay award winning right to information campaigner Aruna Roy have said that Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh’s assurance of safety following the recent attack (click HERE to read) on top academic Bela Bhatia has not followed with "any strong action".
Singh "assurance" comes a day after Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi's support to Bela Bhatia. Meeting her, Singh, who met her in in Jagdalpur, assured her of "all protection and the freedom to continue her work among the tribals", adding, she could "continue to live at her present location", and if feeling insecure, she could be "alternative accommodation in Bastar."
Insisting that there has not been “any strong action on unruly mobs and​ ​abusive, law-breaking police officers” who were responsible for the mob attack on Bhatia’s house, situated in Parpa village near Jagdalpur in Bastar region, the statement says, failure to take firm action suggests there would be no let down in threats on activists who are fighting for tribals’ cause.
Others who have signed the statement include Nikhil Dey and Shankar Singh of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, Prafulla Samantara of the Lok Shakti Abhiyan, Lingraj Azad of the Samajwadi Jan Parishad, Binayak Sen and Kavita Srivastava of People’s Union for Civil Liberties, well-known Gandhian activist Sandeep Pandey, Vimal Bhai of the Matu Jan Sangathan, Anand Mazgaonkar of the Paryavaran Suraksh Samiti, and Bilal Khan of the Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan.
Issued by the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), the statement says that the attackers, who asked Bhatia to leave Parpa village within 24 hours, were “non-state and state actors” who feel threatened by her very presence, because she has “exposed” human rights violations of the adivasis and activists by security forces the name of combating extremism.
Noting that the response of Bastar Inspector General of Police (IGP) SRP Kalluri to such attacks has been “extremely offensive, derogatory and abusive” especially to women activists, the statement says, the Chhattisgarh government has been forced to “break its silence on Bastar” because of the country-wide protests.
“However”, the statement notes, “While the chief minister has assured safety of Bhatia, his absolute silence on the mob violence, police atrocities, human rights abuses and the unruly-unlawful behavior of Kalluri is a matter of concern.”
Recalling that Bhatia is an academic of international repute, the statement says, as member of many government committees she has exposed the “deplorable situation” of the adivasis in the region, who are caught in a permanent war-like situation”.
The statement says, the attack follows Bhatia’s helping hand to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to visit adivasi hamlets and speak to the adivasi survivors of rape, sexual assault and violence at the hands of the state’s security forces.
It adds, “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’.”
The statement asks the chief minister to 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.”
It also seeks “immediate suspension of IGP 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.”

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