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Naxal-infected Bastar region being turned into laboratory of Hindu nation, as RSS seeks to "purify" it: Report

A Bastar tribal whose daughter was picked up, killed
By Our Representative
An eight-person fact-finding team under the auspices of the All-India People’s Forum (AIPF) has found an unprecedented atmosphere of mutual suspicion and insecurity among the villagers of the Naxal-infected regions of Chhattisgarh it visited – Bastar, Dantewada, Sukma and Bijapur districts -- with the region fast turning into a Hindutva laboratory.
“The adivasi villagers are fearful that the police and paramilitary forces will brand them as Maoists”, a report prepared by the team says on the basis of testimonies of individual villagers, adding, “At the same time, they are also fearful that the Maoists will brand them as informers.”
“In areas where Christian minorities are present”, the report says, “RSS outfits are acting as a law unto themselves, terrorizing the minorities. They have no fear of stern action by the police because they feel they enjoy patronage of the government and the ruling party.”
Saying the region is turning into a "laboratory for Hindu nation", the report says, testimonies of Christians in Bastar district showed "systematic attempts to persecute Christian minorities; foment communal division and violence in adivasi villages; bend pro-adivasi laws to communal ends; and allow Hindutva groups to dictate to the police and administration."  
The report says, violence against the people of the region is happening in Bastar today “under cover of a war to ‘save Bastar from Maoism,’ or ‘make Bastar safe for democracy’,” adding, “The Constitution is in fact being trampled to ‘make Bastar safe for corporations’ and ‘purify Bastar for the RSS’.”
Pointing out that incidents in which Maoists unleash violence upon civilians, branding them informers and killing them are “extremely worrying”, the team in its 52-page report titled “Bastar: Where the Constitution Stands Suspended”, says, “A situation of polarization” exists in which “the State and the Maoists both put pressure on them saying they must perforce take one side or the other.”
 Suggesting that the main problem is related with failure of the government to provide basic social infrastructure, the report quotes a person living in a now disbanded anti-Maoist militant group Salwa Judum camp at Ketulnar near Kutru as saying, “My village is 40 km from here, there is no road, school or hospital in my village. The Maoists had abducted six people in my village, out of whom three were killed. The remaining three were badly beaten and then released.”
Team members of fact-finding team talking with villagers
In the camp, this person said, about 2,000 people lived, all of whom having either been brought from other villages. They worked as labourers for their livelihood. The report adds, Salwa Judum has been replaced now by organizations like Naxal Peedit Sangharsh Samiti, which lure those who suffer from Maoist violence into the camp, using them “politically”.
The report regrets, even after the Supreme Court directive against it, Salwa Judum is in operation under several names, one of them being Samajik Ekta Manch, which was dissolved “after its exposure by a recent India Today sting operation.”
“Senior police officials were caught on camera saying that this Manch was formed by the police to do ‘our work’ – to help the police by driving out ‘trouble-making elements’ like journalist Malini Subramaniam, Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group advocate Shalini Gera, and researcher and human rights activist Bela Bhatia from Bastar”, the report says.
Pointing out that the government’s policy of militarization is having disastrous effects in the region, the report states, “Above all, the space for democratic protests and the functioning of political parties and mass organizations is extremely circumscribed. Political parties like CPI and activists like Soni Sori who raise issues of human rights and civil liberties are subjected to harassment.”
Underlining that “villagers are extremely vulnerable to sexual violence by police and paramilitary personnel”, the report says, since the AIPF visit this June, “horrific case of rape and murder of the teenage girl Madkam Hidme in Gompad village has come to light.”
“The situation of elected people’s representatives is also worrisome, where the police demands that they openly become informers and facilitate fake surrenders, and they live in fear of Maoist violence”, the report says, adding, “There are people’s representatives who have been jailed and who have opposed state oppression on villagers.”
Members of the team included Madhya Pradesh MLA Dr Sunilam of Samajwadi Samagam, Kavita Krishnan of the All India Progressive Women’s Association, Amlan Bhatacharya of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (West Bengal), two advocates, well-known researcher and activist Bela Bhatia, and Dantewada-based Aam Aadmi Party leader Soni Sori.
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Click HERE for full report

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