February 21, 2016
Human Rights Forum (HRF) condemns in the strongest terms the attack on adivasi rights activist Soni Sori last night near Bastanar in Bastar district of Chattisgarh. This cowardly act follows closely the hounding and forcing out of Jagdalpur, the journalist Malini Subramaniam and members of the Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group. This is part of a concerted effort by the government to subvert the rule of law in the area. The attack on Soni Sori has been preceded by months of open intimidation, various forms of harassment and threats to her and also other activists, researchers and lawyers. Journalists have also been bullied, subjected to illegal detention and torture and implicated in criminal cases.
The police have even orchestrated vigilante gangs to harass those seeking out the truth and trying to help adivasis in distress. The context is of course the government’s ongoing counter-insurgency operations which often boil down to brutalizing the lives of ordinary adivasis. There has been a spurt in cases of staged encounters, sexual violence on women, illegal detentions and torture over the past year or so in South Chattisgarh.
Correspondingly, an ominous environment of coercion has been drummed up so as to prevent independent efforts at uncovering facts. Clearly, there is an attempt to purge human rights activists, writers and lawyers from the area. These illegalities have explicit State patronage. They are being done under the supervision of a Central government that is in open contempt of the Indian Constitution. We call upon all those who cherish democracy to speak out against this rapidly deteriorating situation in South Chattisgarh.
VS Krishna (General Secretary)
S Jeevan Kumar (President)