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Civil rights fact-finding team seeking probe in aerial bombing detained in Chhattisgarh

Counterview Desk

In a sharply worded statement, the civil rights group Forum Against Corporatization and Militarization (FACAM), New Delhi, has objected to the fact finding team of the Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisations (CDRO) comprising of 25 members from Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Delhi being stopped at Dobbatota town in Sukma District of Chhattisgarh at midday 1st Feb, 2023.
Claiming that the team members were “continuously harassed and denied access to villages of Sukma”, the statement says it was only a team on a fact finding mission into the cases of aerial bombings in the region, state repression on anti-camp movements and matters of illegal forceful land acquisition to build roads and camp.
The statement says, they were stopped and made to stay in a tin-shed under heavy cordon of CRPF, DRG and Chhattisgarh police. To devoid them of any relief, the police administration shut the town and refused to provide them proper food and such facilities since. The team was forced to cancel its fact-finding mission.

Text:

A fact finding team of the Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisations (CDRO) comprising of 25 members from Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Delhi were stopped at a camp checkpoint in Dubbatota town in Sukma District of Chhattisgarh at mid day 1st Feb, 2023. They were constantly harassed by the state personnel and were not allowed to proceed further. Shops in the area were forcefully shut down and they were denied food. Moreover, they were not permitted to proceed to nearby ‘Panchayat Bhavan' to take proper shelter. Instead, they were kept in a tin-shed waiting area without sufficient resting arrangements and were made to spend the night there. On 2nd of Feb at around 10 am, they were finally let go by the local camp commander, only to be stopped at another camp check-point not more than 3 km ahead.
It is pertinent to mention that this team was on a ‘Fact Finding Mission’ to investigate the cases of Aerial Bombings in various villages of Bijapur and Sukma on the Telangana-Chhattisgarh border; State repression on Anti Camp movements in Burji and elsewhere; and matters of illegal forced land acquisition to build roads and camps by violating provisions of seeking “consent of Gramsabha”, as mandated under the Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act. Despite meeting and informing the Superintendent of Police and District Collector of Sukma as well as the DSP of Burkapal, they were illegally detained and made to stay under a tin-shed amid a heavy cordon of CRPF, DRG and Chhattisgarh Police. When told by the team about the said intimation to authorities, the Central Reserve Police Force officials flatly refused to accept it and said “we are central forces, we don’t take orders from state government authorities”, informed a team member.
Due to constant pressure and continuous harassment by not allowing transportation and other necessary means, the fact finding team had to cancel its above said inquiry after going through hours of ordeal at the hands of state forces. It is important to understand that these kinds of restraints on outside observers, the journalists, activists and human rights defenders, is an attempt by state forces to create a war without witnesses to carry on their genocidal acts without any scrutiny from civil society and larger masses of the country. This information suppression which started with Operation Green-Hunt has intensified multifold under Operation Samadhan-Prahar, with camps at every 3-4 km distance, denying passage to Democratic forces apart from wreaking havoc on the people of Bastar in the interest of Corporate loot.
Forum Against Corporatization And Militarization (FACAM) condemns in harshest tone the denial of passage to CDRO Fact-Finding team, harassment of team members and subsequent suppression of truth from reaching the people of the country. We also ask the Central Government, State Govt. of Chhattisgarh and IG of Bastar Range, who claim in unison that no aerial strike is being conducted in Chhattisgarh, why are they afraid and denying passage to Fact-Finding missions to conduct an inquiry, if what they claim is at all true? What truth are they trying to conceal and keep buried? The answer is known: it’s the genocidal war waged by the state under Operation Samadhan-Prahar on aboriginal people of the country.
We demand the following:
  • Conduction of Fact-Finding into the above mentioned incidents by a team comprising of Democratic rights activists under direction of NHRC or Supreme Court.
  • Grant unhindered passage to Democratic, civil and human rights activists and journalists from visiting the war-zone.
  • Stop suppressing information about the incidences in the region.
  • Stop state repression on people fighting against corporate loot in the garb of fighting the Maoist movement.
  • Stop Operation Samadhan-Prahar

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