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Adivasi rights leader arrested, 'taken away' in unregistered police vehicle

By Our Representative  

In a surprise move, a People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) activist, Sunita Potem, who has been raising issues of Adivasi rights in Bastar, has been arrested from Raipur. She was arrested by a team led by DSP Garima Dadar on June 3 "after being pulled out of her room at 8:30 in the morning by the team", sources said. 
Sunita had traveled from her village Korcholi to Raipur to write an examination and was living in a women's only collective residence. Her colleagues were locked in the room and the landlady was threatened by the police, said a release by a top civil rights network, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), which brought up the issue
According to CASR, "She was taken away in an unregistered police vehicle. The DSP returned back in an hour, and the arrest warrant was presented in front of her colleagues and a PUCL activist who had come there to support her."
Calling it a violation of procedure,  judgment of the Supreme Court in the DK Basu case, and section 41(B) of CrPC, CASR regretted, "A copy of the warrant was not presented to the people present there. The police also did not prepare, nor attest a memo with the signature of her family, friends or colleagues." 
Stating that this is not the first time that Sunita faced such an issue, CASR said, she had filed a case against the extra judicial killing of six Adivasi in Bijapur district (Suneeta Pottam & Others Vs State of Chhattisgarh and Others WP (PIL) 82/2016).  
Working against the violation of the Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act in Bastar, fighting against cutting of forest trees  without taking permission from Adivasi Gram Sabhas, her movements are known to have been closely followed by the police.
This is not an isolated incident in Bastar. Voices that have been talking about violation of Adivasi rights have been put down with brute force
Also a Moolvasi Bachao Manch leader, Sunita spearheaded multiple protests in Bastar against the opening of military camps and mines  without the consent of the Adivasis, claimed CASR. 
According to CASR, "This is not an isolated incident in Bastar. Voices that have been talking about the violation of Adivasi rights have been put down with brute force. Soni Sori, a democratic rights activist working in Bastar, was arrested and then tortured in prison by the police and paramilitary."
"Similarly", it added, "Hidme Markam, another activist was also arrested in Bastar for talking about the issues of the Adivasi community." Then, "Sarju Tekam, who was very vocal against the militarisation in Bastar, and the violation of the democratic rights activist, was picked up by the NIA. His family stated that the police even planted evidence in his house to prove Maoist links that did not exist." .
Offering more instances, CASR said, "Leaders of the Orcha Jan Andolan like Ranu Podyam and Shankar Kashyap were arrested by the police force. Similarly, Rajmam Netam, another Adivasi activist associated with the anti-camp movement, was arrested by the police."



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