NAPM joins PUCL and others in condemning the attack on Swami Agnivesh and the Team and demands a CBI enquiry in to the incident at Tadmetla, Morpalli and Timapuram villages which had been attacked by Koya commandoes and the infamous COBRA forces of the Chhattisgarh police force on the 11th and 16th of March, burning down 300 houses, killing five people and raping three women in separate incidents.
NAPM Conveners Team
PUCL Statement condemning the assault on Swami Agnivesh and the state sponsored mob-rule in Chhattsigarh
People’s Union for Civil Liberties unambiguously condemns the 26th March (Friday morning) attack on Swami Agnivesh and two Art of Living teachers, Ajay Singh and Rishi Milind, near Dornapal village in Dantewada in Chattisgarh, who were on a peace and fact-finding mission.
Swami Agnivesh and his companions reached Sukma town, in Dantewada district late on 25th March 2011. In the early hours of 26th March they left for Chintagupha village enroute to Tadmetla, Morpalli and Timapuram villages which had been attacked by Koya commandoes and the infamous COBRA forces of the Chhattisgarh police force on the 11th and 16th of March, burning down 300 houses, killing five people and raping three women in separate incidents.
Swami Agnivesh and his companions were manhandled and abused by a crowd comprising of three hundred women and men from the Dornapal Salwa Judum camp and also from the Erabore village relief camp. The tyres of Swami Agnivesh’s car were deflated, their laptops snatched, the supplies he was carrying for the victims of these villages was taken away. Although Swamiji tried his best to dialogue with the people who were causing obstruction yet they refused to talk. The laptops were handed over later to Swamiji and he returned to Sukma in the morning itself.
Demanding Arrests and a CBI enquiry into the attack on the Tribals
According to the PUCL the attack on Swami Agnivesh is a part of the Chhattisgarh Government’s design to prevent any information of its operation Green Hunt against the Tribals of that region from coming out into the open. This is a clear example of the impunity that exists for the police and paramilitary forces in that area. We demand filing of criminal cases and the arrests of the police personnel and SPOs who led and carried out the attack against the villagers on 11th and 16th March 2011. We also demand similarly the arrests of persons who attacked Swamiji today.
We also demand a CBI enquiry into the incident of 11th and16th March and the announcement and reaching of a complete rehabilitation package for the affected people on the same guidelines as ordered by the SC in this regard.
Attack on Commissioner, District Collector and SDM condemned.
The PUCL also condemns the incident of two days earlier where the laudable effort of Bastar Commissioner Sh. Srinivasulu and District Collector of Dantewada R. Prasanna who were trying to visit and reach relief to the three affected villages was obstructed at Pollampalli by the residents of the Salwa Judum camp before Chinatagupha on March 24th. The SPOs also refused to clear the passage saying that they would only take instructions from the DIG, S.R.P. Kalluri. According to eyewitnesses the officers got their own security men to clear the obstruction and then moved on with the supplies. However, on reaching Chintagupha they were instructed by their superiors in Raipur not to go ahead. Not compromising on his duty towards the people the Collector got the supplies escorted by the SDM, Sh. SP Vaid, to the three villages where four lac Rupees were also distributed to the resident of Tadmetla along with ration and other essentials. On his way back the SDM was also manhandled and abused at Polampalli by the same group of people and also given life threats asking why he had tried to reach relief.
State Sponsored mob-rule in Dantewada
The PUCL is of the understanding that this is not the first time that journalists and activists and researchers have been attacked and prevented from entering that area. Since 2009, when the operation Green Hunt took off, the Chhattisgarh Government through the Salwa Judum, SPOs and victims of Maoist violence has continuously tried to deny access of people, activists, journalists into the area under garb of “a spontaneous reaction” of the people towards the visitors, thus openly sponsoring mob rule. On 15th December, 2009 when women’s groups from all over the country tried to go to Dantewada to examine the Samsetti rape case and meet the victim, they were prevented from going and harassed so severely by the Salwa Judum mob and SPOs that they had to abandon their trip and return.
From the 29th of December 2009 to the 1st of January 2010, Professors Nandini Sundar and Ujjwal Singh were forced to vacate their hotel in Dantewada, were stopped outside Sukma for over two hours, refused rooms in Sukma hotels and had to face the humiliation by SPOs bursting into their rooms in a college hostel and followed wherever they went. Similarly on 6th January, 2010 when a team of over 35 people from all over the country led by Medha Patkar tried to participate in a public hearing on atrocities on the Tribals by police forces, not only were the Tribals arrested and taken away but the team of people were also harassed by the throwing of eggs and tomatoes on the streets of Dantewada. In April 2010 a team led by Prof Yashpal along with more than forty intellectuals faced the same harassment in Dantewada.
It is well known that the journalists are not allowed to go into areas to report, they have faced risks from all sides and have tried to keep a flow of information but there are several such instances, the latest being the obstruction of reporters of the Times of India and the The Hindu on 20th-21st March when they tried to go to the same area to study the attack on the Tribals and they were prevented and had to take the dirt roads and reach the villages.
Prabhakar Sinha (President)
Mahi Pal Singh (National Secretary)
Kavita Srivastava (National Secretary)
26th March, 2011