Two days after Chhattisgarh Congress held a “Save Democracy” protest in Bastar and said there was “administrative terror” in the area, the owners of houses, taken on rent by Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group as well as a journalist, have been allegedly directed by the local police to evict their tenants.
Isha Khandelwal and Shalini Gera, lawyers who run the legal aid group which fights cases for tribals, some of whom are accused of Naxalism, said their landlord Pravin Baghel was called to the City Kotwali Police station late on Wednesday and only let off in the early hours of Thursday, with pressure being applied on him to evict his tenants.
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A release issued by the Jagdalpur Legal Aid group also said that journalist Malini Subramaniam’s landlord was summoned in a similar fashion on Thursday. The scroll.in journalist has also been served with an eviction notice.
Former head of the International Red Cross in Chhattisgarh, Subramaniam has reported extensively on Naxal issues such including alleged fake surrenders. Last week her house was pelted with stones after a social organisation called Samajik Ekta Manch carried out a rally outside her house with slogans of “Naxal samarthak murdabad” and “Bharat Mata ki jai”.
On Thursday, a release by the legal aid group said, “All who are challenging the official narrative are being silenced. Social mobilizations are being orchestrated by the police to provide a cover to their illegal harassment of journalists, lawyers, activists…Unable to stop us from continuing our work here, the police have now resorted to threatening others associated with us.”
When contacted, D M Awasthi, Special DG, Anti Naxal Operations, said, “The issue has been brought to my notice. I have conveyed to the SP that the safety and security of all citizens have to be ensured.”
However, when The Indian Express sought a comment from Jagdalpur SP R N Das, he said the police was constantly “dragged into all matters”.