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Chhattisgarh BJP turned Bastar into open warzone in run up to elections: FACAM

Counterview Desk 
Commenting on the death of 29 persons in Bastar, which  the security forces claimed as part of a massive operation against Maoists, the civil rights network* Forum Against Corporatization And Militarization (FACAM) has said that reports received  by it suggest 17 of them were "not killed during the firing with the state forces."
In a statement, FACAM said, the 17 persons "were shot dead after they had been captured by the paramilitary personnel and were unarmed and injured when they were murdered", and there have been  "reports of torture prior to this fake encounter have also surfaced".
Contending that tribals are living in a state of terror in Bastar area, FACAM said, villages like Palaguda, Ittaguda, Jilorgada, Gommaguda, and Kanchal, near the Bijapur-Sukma border have seem massive deployment of "American and Israel-manufactured rocket launchers and drones", leading to "intense amount of destruction" of trees being death of cattle. 
"The people in the area narrowly escaped the attacks and experienced loss of property. Drones have been spotted continuously over the skies and there is an atmosphere of fear in the area. This is also the harvest season for Mahua flowers", it added.  


On 7th April 2024, the Indian state conducted yet another aerial bombing in Bastar region, an act which has occurred for the fifth time in the area since 2021. In the same time period, on 16th April 2024, 29 Maoists were reportedly slain by a joint team of District Reserve Guard (DRG) and Border Security Forces (BSF) in a supposed anti-Naxal operation. 
According to ground reports received by FACAM and several media reports, out of the 29 people killed in the encounter, 17 were not killed during the firing with the state forces, but were shot dead after they had been captured by the paramilitary personnel and were unarmed and injured when they were murdered. Reports of torture prior to this fake encounter have also surfaced. 
Since 1st January 2024 when the Indian state unleashed Operation Kagaar in Abujmarh, numerous killings of unarmed Adivasi peasants in the name of countering Maoism have taken place, with nearly 100 killings taking place since 1st January 2024. Just this month, on 2nd April 2024 in Nendra village, in what was dubbed the “biggest anti-Naxal operation since 2017” by the Indian state where it proclaimed that it had killed 13 Maoists, Kamli Kunjam, a deaf Adivasi girl was killed in the same operation and at least one other villager was similarly shot dead during this operation. 
Her family reported that she was sick and was dragged from her home. Her clothes were found torn, along with injury marks near her lower abdomen hinting towards rape, an all-too-common occurrence at the hands of the Indian state’s paramilitary in the region. 
Similarly, on 27th March 2024, the Indian state claimed it had gunned down 6 Maoists near the Chipurbhatti forest area in Bijapur district where the villagers have argued that atleast one of the murdered persons was a villager and that the people were actually captured and not shot dead during exchange of fire. 
Photos have surfaced of tied and bound persons timed prior to the alleged encounter, indicating that this too was a fake encounter of captured Maoists, with the Indian state’s paramilitary carrying out summary executions with raw impunity and in sheer mockery of the state’s law.
Since the coming of BJP government in the Chhattisgarh state assembly late last year and upon the run upto the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, the Indian state has turned Bastar into an open warzone. On April 7, 2024, a joint operation conducted by various wings of the paramilitary forces, targeting villages like Palaguda, Ittaguda, Jilorgada, Gommaguda, and Kanchal, near the Bijapur-Sukma border, American and Israel-manufactured rocket launchers and drones were used to drop more than 30 high-intensity explosives in these villages. 
From the area in which the bombs have struck, to a radius of about 100-200 sq meters, there has been an intense amount of destruction with trees being completely uprooted and cattle slaughtered. The people in the area narrowly escaped the attacks and experienced loss of property. Drones have been spotted continuously over the skies and there is an atmosphere of fear in the area. This is also the harvest season for Mahua flowers. 
The Adivasi peasantry sleeps under the Mahua trees to ensure the protection of the Mahua flowers during this season and regularly stay in the forest lands. The bombing have become a major hindrance to the harvesting of these flowers which is an essential part of their livelihood and Adivasi cultural practices. 
Day-to-day lives and practices of Adivasi peasants have been turned into lives of fear and terror. The villagers organized peaceful sit-in protests against this aerial bombing and videos have surfaced showing the paramilitary personnel forcing them into police vehicles and dragging them away, threatening them imprisonment and death for carrying out peaceful protests. Leading Adivasi peasant activists like Surju Tekam were unceremoniously arrested under the draconian UAPA law under fabricated charges.
In such times, the Indian state makes no distinction between armed resistance or peaceful. According to Article 3 of the Geneva convention, those individuals who have been forced into non-combatant situations due to injury or ones who have laid down their arms, have to be treated with dignity. Further, state violence like torture, or murder without judicial proceedings is prohibited even against armed resistance. 
Although India is a signatory to the convention, the Indian state has in no way followed these guidelines set by the convention. Furthermore, the Indian state is bound to differentiate between armed resistance forces and unarmed civilians in the region, yet, the Indian state continues to wage an indiscriminate war on its own people at the service of imperialists and big Indian corporates. 
The victims of this assault for corporatisation includes a 6 month old child who was shot dead by the security forces on 1st January 2024. The genocidal war on the Adivasi peasants has also seen the use of aerial bombings via Israel-made drones over villages populated by civilians.
Forum Against Corporatization And Militarization (FACAM) is deeply concerned by the escalation of the Indian state’s war against people in Bastar and condemns the aerial bombings and fake encounters conducted in the region. FACAM urges for the immediate scrapping of the Surajkund Scheme which provides basis to all the militarization at the service of corporate interests in the resource-rich regions.
Forum Against Corporatization and Militarization (FACAM) demands:
1.⁠ ⁠Criminal proceedings and investigation in cases alleged to be "crossfire".
2.⁠ ⁠Independent inquiry into Chipurbhatti, Korcholi and Chote Betia encounters by democratic rights organizations committee headed by a retired Supreme Court Judge.
*All-India Students Association (AISA), All India Revolutionary Students Organization (AIRSO), All India Revolutionary Women's Organization (AIRWO), Bhim Army Student Federation (BASF), Bhagat Singh Ambedkar Students Organization (BASO), Bhagat Singh Chatra Ekta Manch (bsCEM), Collective, Common Teachers Forum (CTF), Democratic Students Union (DSU), Fraternity Movement, Nazariya Magazine, Progressive Lawyers Association (PLA), Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan (MAS), Trade Union Centre of India (TUCI), Vishwavidyalaya Chhatra Federation (VCF)



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