Skip to main content

Top academic Bela Bhatia threated in Chhattisgarh: She helped NHRC probe into cops' "atrocities" on tribal women

By Our Representative
Well-known academic and social activist Bela Bhatia, who has been working for several years in the Maoist-infested area of Bastar in Chhattisagarh, has been threatened to leave her house, where she currently lives – Papra village outside Jagdalpur town – or face “severe” consequences.
A couple of days back, Bhatia, who has been particularly helping out tribal women allegedly raped by security personnel in Bastar, helped a team of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to investigate complaints of rape by security forces in the state.
According to sources, a mob of 30 goondas has told her to leave her house within 24 hours. These people came in “a Bolero-type” vehicle and several motorbikes, the sources said, adding, they were “very threatening”, and told Bhatia to leave immediately. They threatened to burn the house, kill her dog, and also threatened the landlady.
The sources further said, after some time they “theateningly” barged into the house. Meanwhile, Bhatia managed to call the local thana. The police came, but did not do much to restrain the mob, except when they tried to move again into the house.
Bhatia agreed in writing to leave and pleaded for time – a few days. They refused and wanted her to leave immediately. Eventually they agreed to give her 24 hours to leave.
Bela Bhatia's written "assurance" to mob
Earlier, the sources said, two days ago, another group of goondas had come to her house in the middle of the night and told her to leave. They have been threatening her landlord to evict her for the past several days, the sources added.
During the NHRC team's visit to the area, Bhatia accompanied it to record the statements of rape and sexual assault survivors, who have filed FIRs against police personnel. In a note that she circulated on WhatsApp, Bhatia said, her landlord and his sons were called to the local thana on Sunday and told them that they must ensure that she left the house immediately.
Journalist Malini Subramaniam, lawyers like Shalini Gera and Isha Khandelwal of the Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group and other human rights defenders have been forced out of Bastar after similar mob attacks.
In November last year, the police instituted a case against Nandini Sundar, a Delhi University professor and rights activist, researching on Bastar tribals, for “instigating” murder of a tribal, had false cases foisted on them.
The attack on Bhatia comes following NHRC telling the Chhattisgarh government early this month (click HERE to read) that, during its on-the-spot investigation, it has found 16 women prima facie victims of rape, sexual and physical assault by state police personnel.
It had said that it would further record statement of about 20 other victims, pointing out that the rape victims be given interim monetary relief of Rs 37 lakh, which should include Rs 3 lakh each to eight rape victims, Rs 2 lakh each to six sexual assault victims, and and Rs 50,000 each to two physical assault victims.
NHRC notice was sent after it examined the records of 34 victims, who were mentioned in three separate FIRs – 22/2015, 2/2016 and 3/2016. The material includes copies of statement of victims recorded by the NHRC team as well as those recorded in respect of 15 victims sent by the inspector general of police (IGP), Police Headquarters, Raipur, Chhattisgarh capital, on November 12, 2016.
This is not the first time that Bhatia has been intimidated and threatened for staying in Bastar. The attack against her began in November 2015, when she helped tribal women file an FIR against the police for allegedly sexually assaulting them.
Bhatia is a PhD from Cambridge University, has been researching the counter-insurgency in Bastar since 2007. She has also been on the Planning Commission panel that looked at problems of governance in conflict areas. She has taught at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, and also been a fellow in the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi.

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Examples of support to Hindu temples, scriptures, saints by 'Muslim' rulers galore

Siya Ram coin issued by Akbar By Bharat Dogra* At a time when the country as well as the world are passing through very difficult times leading to more urgent need for strengthening national unity for meeting several big challenges ahead, unfortunately disputes relating to religious places have been allowed to raise their ugly head once again. It is well-realized by now by many people that it is not historical facts but narrow considerations of political gain and spreading of fanatic ideas of intolerance which are behind such mischief, but due to the increasing threat of mob violence and patronage available at higher levels to groups spreading intolerance many people are reluctant to openly and fearlessly express their views. Hence there is urgent need for broad-based peace committees with wider social support to spread the message of communal harmony and to appeal against the dangers of spreading false messages regarding places of worship which can ultimate

Gyanvapi case: Use of 'illegal' lawfare to keep the communal pot simmering

By Venkatesh Narayanan, Bobby Ramakant, Manoj Sarang* With a steady drumbeat of bad news for the lives of ordinary citizens --  inflation at a multi-year high , rupee at an all-time low , negative job creation and when all forward indicators as seen by industry leaders point to recessionary clouds on the horizon , what’s a serially-incompetent government to do?  Dust out their time-tested-citizen-distraction playbook. The Gyanvapi-Masjid case is all of this -- as a weapon of mass distraction. This zeitgeist of our times is best captured by a recent opinion piece : "The idea is to keep the pot on a perpetual boil, simmering at the top, whirling feverishly beneath. A restless society forever living precariously on the precipice arouses distrst, uneasiness, fear and discomfort, That is a toxic panoply for manufacturing rage, which can then be effortlessly mobilized at short notice. BJP is creating an eco-system of real-time instant delivery of hate-mongers. That is how we are sudde

Targeting mosques, churches: 'Roadmap' for 2025, RSS' centenary year?

416 years old Our Lady of Health Church, Sancoale, Goa  By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  Fascists use manipulative strategies aimed at whipping up sympathy and support from the majority community, to which they normally ‘belong’. They do so in a variety of insidious and subtle ways. In the past few months, they have gone overboard in their efforts to denigrate and demonize minorities in India, particularly Muslims and Christians. They have spewed hate and divisiveness through their venomous speeches; incited people to violence and have effectively used officialdom to further their vested interests. The results are there for all to see: greater polarisation of the majority community in a country which prided itself for its pluralism and diversity. Their meticulously planned agenda is in order to gain absolute power of the country in the 2024 national elections. More so it is also a roadmap towards 2025 when the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) will complete one hundred years of its existence.

This varsity succumbed to extra-academic mobocracy, 'ignored' Hindutva archives

By Shamsul Islam* Open letter to Sharda University vice-chancellor Sub: Discarding a Question on Linkages of Hindutva with Nazism/Fascism is blatant Academic Dishonesty! Dear Professor Sibaram Khara Saheb, Namaskaar! According to your esteemed University’s portal: “The name of University, 'Sharda' is synonymous to 'Goddess of knowledge and learning-Saraswati'. She is identified with 'veena', an Indian musical instrument and the ‘lotus’, where she resides. The lotus in our logo symbolizes the seat of learning that the University is created for.  "Variety of colours signify the variety of disciplines the university offers and the overlap between petals creating new colours demonstrate the ethos of collaboration between students and teachers of different programme, nationality, creed and colour working towards creating new knowledge…the University's cherished mission to provide education beyond boundaries and to facilitate the students and faculty to achie

Whither climate goal? Increasing reliance on coal 'likely to worsen' India's power crisis

By Shankar Sharma*  Recent news articles, How to shock-proof India’s power sector and Power minister points finger at states for worsening electricity crisis , have highlighted a few current problems for the ongoing power sector issues as in April 2022. However, there is a lot more to it than a few temporary solutions as indicated in the articles. It should also be emphasised that it is techno-economically impossible to completely shock-proof a highly complex and geographically wide-spread vast power network, such as the one in India, which is only getting more and more complex with the passage of each year due to some irrational policies/ practices in the sector. A business-as-usual (BAU) scenario, wherein more and more of conventional technology power plants, including coal power plants, will be added in the near future, will also necessitate the increased complexity in the integrated national grid, and as a result the instances of power shortage/ disruptions can only escalate for

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

A former Modi ally, Prashant Kishor wanted to enter Congress 'on contract, as trader'

By Anand Sahay*  The Congress Party and the election campaigns specialist Prashant Kishor, whose company has done strategic communications for a host of political parties across ideology, should both count themselves lucky that they could not reach an agreement for Kishor to join the party. News reports suggest that the Congress rejected Kishor’s terms. This is not wholly unexpected. People join a party because they are attracted to it, and wish to serve it in any capacity that the party may see fit. But that isn’t Kishor at all. He gave the impression of entering into a contract, as a trader might. If news reports are to be believed, he sought freedom to report directly to party chief Sonia Gandhi, and sought untrammeled control over party communications. When such ideas did not find favour, the consultant withdrew. It is clear he has no particular love for the Congress, and its ideas, ideology and politics. In contrast, look at the key personae in G-23. They

Govt of India 'compromising' on mandate to regulate gene technologies, protect nature

Counterview Desk  In a letter sent to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and other related ministries and departments, the Coalition for a GM-Free India has raised "serious concern" over the guidelines notified for Genome Edited Organisms, in which major exemptions from regulations have been offered to certain categories of Genome Edited Organisms/Plants and products. A letter signed by Sridhar Radhakrishnan and Kapil Shah, co-convenors of the NGO network, addressed to Union Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change Bhupender Yadav, said, the Office Memorandum, dated May 17, 2022 of the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology about Safety Assessment Guidelines, which follows the Office Memorandum dated March 30, 2022 of the MoEFCC, said, the move "essentially amounts to entry of risky GMOs through the backdoor. Text : Coalition for a  GM-Free India is a national volunteer-driven platform of hundre

A Marxian trend that queries undemocratic customs and traditions of capitalism

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  A very well-meaning comrade called me a pluriversal Marxist with a wild smile full of English irony, while chairing my book release function in the Marx Memorial Library, London. I dedicate this piece to her… There is no other philosopher who is more abused and misunderstood like Marx. There is no other philosophy like Marxism which is more demonised on a regular basis. The mindless vilification campaign against Marx and Marxism continues without any form of reason. The propaganda and portrayal of Marxism as a devilish doctrine signify its importance as a philosophy of human emancipation from the very forces who demonise it. Marxism is a philosophy of praxis which helps us to understand the centrality of creative power of labour in producing socially meaningful value. It helps us to analyse the laws governing production, distribution, consumption, exchange, market, profit, pricing and private property in the development of class-based society. As a humanist p