Memorandum to the Chhattisgarh CM

Sh. Raman Singh,
The Chief Minister,

(Through the Resident Commissioner of Chhattisgarh Bhawan, New Delhi)

Dt. 22nd February, 2016

The attack on Soni Sori is part of a larger campaign of State violence in Bastar; Under the guise of anti-Naxal operations, the security forces are indulging in rape and plunder. Teams of women activists have documented three cases of mass sexual violence in the past three months, where security forces have entered villages in Sukma and Bijapur- stripping women, conducting gangrapes, looting their food supplies, and destroying their homes and granaries. The number of “encounters” is increasing, people are “disappearing” from villages, only to show up in the list of “surrendered” or “arrested” Naxalites several days later as press clippings and testimonies recount. The local police and administration are talking in one voice of “clearing” the area within one year.
The very serious issue of the attack on the Adivasi Political Activist, Soni Sori happened on 20th February night on her way to Geedam. Recently, Soni attempted to file an FIR against the IG (Bastar) SRP Kalluri for instigating people to boycott and physically harm her. Chhatisgarh government, Administration and Police are using organisations like Samajik Ekta Manch as instruments of oppression against adivasis and others and IG Kalluri’s presence in Bastar is only increasing the atmosphere of terror. Attack and threats on Soni have taken place along with the hounding of other women journalists, lawyers and human rights defenders in Chhatisgarh. In the name of fighting Naxals, the adivasi villagers are complaining of false cases, false encounters and arresting of innocent villagers. And continuous hounding of people who are bringing this out – be it journalists like Samaru Naag, Santosh Yadav and Malini Subramaniam, political parties like adivasi Mahasabha, Congress or Aam Aadmi Party or Advocates of Jagdalpur Legal aid Group. Direct, indirect sponsored violence is also taking place. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India has also taken a stand and banned sponsored violence like Salwa Judum.

We, the undersigned, concerned individuals, organisations and movements condemn the violence happened in last six months in Bastar and also condemn the cancellation of tribal rights over Forests for mining in other parts of the state. To bring peace in Bastar it is necessary that the state should take action to restore people’s trust in Law and order by respecting their constitutional rights. We demand that:

1. Immediate action should be taken against the people behind the attack on Soni Sori.
2. Journalists, Lawyers, Social and Political activists should be allowed to work fearlessly.
3. Immediate independent enquiry into the rape cases and violence taken place against the non – violent, innocent villagers in the name of fighting Naxals.
4. Bastar Administration should be allowed to work independently without any interference of the Police.
5. The state should stop diluting laws to provide space for the companies for mining.

Thanking You,

WSS protest 22 Feb 2016

(Link to the pdf copy of memorandum with signatures)

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