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DAYS AFTER the CBI held the police responsible for the burning of “160 houses in Tadmetla village” in March 2011, sections of the Bastar police held protests and burnt the effigies of some activists and political leaders on Monday.
Auxiliary constables (sahayak arakshaks), many in uniform, hit the streets in Jagdalpur, Dantewada, Bijapur, Kondagaon, Sukma and Narayanpur, shouting slogans and burning the effigies of activists Nandini Sundar, Bela Bhatia and Himanshu Kumar, and political leaders Soni Sori and Manish Kunjam.
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Sundar is the petitioner in the Tadmetla case, in which seven special police officers (SPOs) have been chargesheeted.
The policemen said while they “fight every day under the harshest circumstances”, they have to face allegations on a daily basis from these “Naxal sympathisers”.
Many of these auxiliary constables are former Maoists turned SPOs, who were brought into the Auxiliary Armed Force after the Supreme Court banned SPOs and Salwa Judum in 2012.
In a letter signed by “Samast Sahayak Arakshak”, handed over to SPs, they said: “Nandini Sundar, Himanshu Kumar, Bela Bhatia, Soni Sori and Manish Kunjam are Naxal sympathisers and they defame the police… Tadmetla saw the killing of 76 jawans and in operations conducted after that… They have misled the court so that their coffers continue to be filled by the Naxals.”
Kondagaon SP Santosh Singh said the constables were angry about the allegations against the police. “They are angry because they risk their lives every day to fight Naxals, but have to face all sorts of questions. The protesters were primarily sahayak arakshaks… They feel they are targeted the most, even in the CBI report,” he said.
Sundar, activist and Delhi University professor, said it was clear that the state police had no regard for any agency or court of law. “Incidents like these make me afraid for the security of people like Manish Kunjam, who has been working tirelessly for the people of Bastar. He was mandated security by the Supreme Court, but has a gunman without a gun. This is very dangerous,” Sundar said.
The protests come three days after the CBI, in its status report, blamed the police for the burning of houses in Tadmetla, contradicting the state police’s claim that Naxals were behind the incident.