[dropcap]T[/dropcap]here are volumes of reports and stories published on Chhattisgarh police and their atrocities on tribals but government never took serious note over it. Frustrated police always go after soft targets like journalists, activists and opposition party members or poor woman of the state. There are many cases where police has raped tribal women, outraged their modesty and if opposed then they are killed in encounter by getting labelled as Maoists. Chhattisgarh activists and local people protesting against police repression of tribal folk in the name of anti-Maoist operations are either burnt or bullied. The maximum number of undertrials in the country are housed inside the jails of Chhattisgarh. Tribal women are the worst victims of police atrocities, and they are raped, abused and tortured by the men in uniform. The worst thing is that there is nobody to listen to their grievances and people, who listen to them, are put behind the bars with false cases. Fake encounters and false allegations are very common in remote areas. The government needs to act against injustice being meted out to tribal people.
One such attack was on tribal activist and Aam Aadmi Party member Soni Sori, who had her face smeared with a hot, black grease-like substance last February when she was on her way to home at Jagdalpur in Bastar. The mother of two has a blackened, swollen and burnt face, her condition worsened but she stood back strong and continued her fight. She receives threats even now. Sori had been a schoolteacher campaigning against the controversial anti-Maoist militia Salwa Judum when, in late 2011, she was accused of helping the insurgents extort money from Essar as a conduit. She shot into the limelight when she alleged prison torture, prompting the Supreme Court to order a medical check-up. She received bail few years ago and then joined politics to make difference but stood helpless against the brutal system and failed in getting elected too.
The police in Chhattisgarh hounding people, who are asking uncomfortable questions about fake encounters, rape of tribal women during anti-Maoist operations, and fake Maoist are made to surrender or encountered. Due to lack of investigation and deterrence police department is taking people for granted. The police always dismissed the charges of atrocities and extra-judicial killings as Maoist propaganda.
Chief Minister Raman Singh was always asked to press for investigations, but told each time that he “would look into it”, but his government always shielded the police than the villagers and tribals of the state. The National Human Rights Commission has asked the state government for detailed reports on civil society groups’ charges of sexual assault on women in Bijapur and Sukma. However, one of the multiple complaints has led to an FIR in the past six months, and no arrests or inquiries have been made.
The police claim to have eliminated many “Maoists” in south Bastar in the past several months without suffering any casualties. They have not revealed the names of the slain. Many innocent people have been killed. Hardly, any of the “surrendered Maoists” the police are flaunting had ever been an insurgent. Bastar has become a police state.
At least 16 women were raped, and assaulted sexually and physically by police in Chhattisgarh, the National Human Rights Commission has said, serving a notice to the state government and holding it “vicariously liable” for the incidents reported in 2015 and 2016. The Commission, in a news release said that it awaits the recorded statements of about “20 other victims”. The human rights panel has directed its officials to record the statements of survivors whose statements were not recorded either by the NHRC team or by the Magistrate and submit it within a month.The NHRC has also asked the government to explain why it should not recommend an “interim monetary relief” of Rs. 37 lakhs to the women who were raped and assaulted.
The NHRC said it had launched an investigation after a report in The Indian Express newspaper in November 2015 said women from five villages in the Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh that state police personnel had sexually harassed and assaulted more than 40 of them and gang raped at least two. It was also reported that belongings of many villagers were destroyed, stolen or scattered by the forces passing through the villages. During the course of the probe, the Commission also received another complaint that alleged more incidents of sexual violence by the security personnel against women had taken place between 11 and 14 January, 2016 in two other villages. There is rampant violation of human rights of Adivasis and Dalits and the government is not supporting their cause.
The huge negative publicity in the press forced the people to believe that whosoever got killed in Bastar or Chhattisgarh are Maoists. The official enquiry regarding the culpable police personnel is still a question. It remains to be seen what the Police action is against their own culprits. What all this underlines is the impunity of the government functionaries which allows them to indulge in corruption and oppression due to the lack of exemplary punitive action by higher authorities who are in turn boundless by rules and more by the interests of scammers. There are only a few areas in this country where NGO’s or activists have challenged this impunity in any effective manner. Even though, this power is tenuous because if the state decides it can at anytime crush the organisation. So, democracy is not something that can be easily established when there is a huge centralisation of economic and political power. No one knows how long the tribals and Dalits of this country will going to suffer in ‘so called’ independent India.
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