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Bastar: Rights advocate writes to NHRC, says ‘threat tactics’ being used

Refusing to give details, a police official confirmed they have received “such a complaint and are looking at it.”

Written by Dipankar Ghose | New Delhi |
December 29, 2016 4:21:42 am
bastar, bastar violence, rights advocate in bastar, bastar advocate nhrc, bastar tribals, india news In February 2016, Gera and other lawyers of JAGLAGS left Jagdalpur in Bastar alleging harassment by Chhattisgarh Police.

AN ADVOCATE of Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group, which fights cases of human rights violations in Bastar, has written to the National Human Rights Commission, alleging that “intimidatory and threatening tactics” were being used against her. She also expressed apprehension that false cases may be charged against her. Shalini Gera wrote that she recently got a call from a person claiming to be the Superintendent of Police of Bastar. According to her, the caller said that the police have received a complaint that accuses her of meeting a Maoist commander and exchanging demonetised currency notes. The allegations, she maintained, were made “simply to malign and harass” her.

Refusing to give details, a police official confirmed they have received “such a complaint and are looking at it.” In February 2016, Gera and other lawyers of JAGLAGS left Jagdalpur in Bastar alleging harassment by Chhattisgarh Police. In her letter to Srinivas Kamath, national focal point for human rights defenders and joint registrar of NHRC, Gera stated that she is part of the legal team of Kumma Pottam, who has approached the High Court alleging that his 13-year-old son was killed in fake encounter. Gera wrote that they reached Jagdalpur on December 26, after the High Court ordered that the teen’s body should be exhumed and a second postmortem conducted under Bastar Commissioner’s supervision.

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She alleged that a police team entered the premises and made the accusation that they had been “caught under suspicious” circumstances. A day later, Gera alleged that she received a call from an “unknown number” – from a person who identified himself as Bastar SP R N Dash. Dash could not be contacted for a comment. Gera wrote, “This person wanted to know whether I had been to Palnar Samudayik Bhavan where I had incited villagers against Aadhaar card…. Then, he wanted to know what I had been doing in Matenar…. He then claimed…we were spreading false stories of police atrocities in front of children, and that he has photographs…. This other person then asked me whether any JNU students were present at the meeting…”

Gera wrote, “…He said he had received a written complaint against me that I was in Goel Dharamshala [in Jagdalpur] yesterday, exchanging ‘old notes’ for Naxalites. I again denied this and told him that I was in Goel Dharamshala yesterday, duly authorized by the Commissioner of Bastar Division, to follow up on orders of Hon’ble High Court.” Earlier this week, Chhattisgarh Police had charged seven activists, purportedly on way to look into allegations of human rights violations of tribal villagers in the state, with Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act. In November, the state police had filed an FIR against a fact-finding team comprising Delhi University and JNU professors Nandini Sundar, Archanay Vijay and other political activists that had visited Bastar in May.

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