PUCL calls for judicial probe into ongoing brutal killing in Batsar District

NEW DELHI: The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) has expressed deep concern over the continuous killing of civilians in the name of Naxalism in Bastar district of Chhattisgarh. According to PUCL, in the last 6 months, more than 200  innocent people have been killed by security forces in this area who were not involved in Naxal activities in any way. The people killed were civil activists.
PUCL has intensified its resistance against indiscriminate extrajudicial killings, mass surrenders and arrests of tribals and activists in the name of fighting Maoism. The recent arrest of tribal member Sunita Pottam, who had filed a PIL against fake encounters, is the latest incident of the ongoing police brutality and repression in the state.
The organization has demanded a judicial probe into the killings in the name of Naxalism and Maoism.
PUCL rejected the claims of the state security agencies that all those killed in these incidents were armed Maoists killed during active hostilities and said that their claims are baseless. An independent investigation conducted by the Chhattisgarh state unit of PUCL, journalists and other independent persons has clearly established that many of the dead were ordinary villagers involved in routine rural activities. Many of the dead have been identified as minors. The innocent dead include a one-month-old baby.
The brutal killing of more than 150 people by security forces in the guise of Maoist Naxal violence in Bastar district of Chhattisgarh has shaken the civil society. The central and state governments have refrained from conducting any investigation into the killing of about two hundred people in the last 6 months in this Naxal-affected area of ​​the state, said Mr T S Ahuja ,General Secretary of Delhi Unit of PUCL.
According to Chhattisgarh State Secretary Ms. Rinchin, expressing concern over the indiscriminate arrests of activists, she said that – especially 26-year-old Sunita Pottam, a young tribal activist associated with PUCL, and along with her, Surju Tekam, an activist of Moolvasi Bachao Manch, are recent examples of this. They are raising their voice against rampant human rights violations in Bastar.
Sunita Pottam, while being a minor, had filed a PIL in the Supreme Court (SC) along with another activist in 2017 on the extrajudicial killings taking place in Bastar. She had also approached the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in 2022 with similar complaints, mentioning false cases filed against her.
She also exposed the sexual violence in Bijapur in 2016 on the basis of facts. However, the state security agencies denied the PUCL’s claim that they were human rights activists. The security agencies tried to prove that the dead were killed during active hostilities by claiming that all the dead in these incidents were armed Maoists.
According to Ms Kavita Srivastava, The National President of PUCL,  the Independent investigations conducted by the state units of PUCL, journalists and other independent persons have clearly established that many of the dead were ordinary villagers, engaged in routine rural activities like collection of tendu leaves or mahua flowers in the forests. Some of them have been identified with certainty as youths or minors. It has also been revealed that in many operations, even “uniformed Maoists” could have been captured and were not a threat to the security forces; Yet, they were subjected to one-sided firing.
Despite these serious allegations of heinous crimes committed by the security forces, the state has refrained from ordering any independent investigation and has not even investigated the complaints of the villagers. In fact, the only response from Union Home Minister Amit Shah in his visits to Chhattisgarh, and during the recent elections, and from the state’s Chief Minister has been lavish praise on the security forces and unbridled euphoria over their “success”. They have also tried to avoid mentioning that the price for this has been paid with the lives of their own citizens.
Apart from extra-judicial killings, forced mass surrenders of tribals and activists and indiscriminate arrests are being immediately stopped. PUCL said that this is a serious violation of human rights and the state and central governments are equally guilty in these acts said Mr Sanjay Parikh a senior Advocate of the Supreme court.
While talking to NEWSTRACK24x7.com PUCL Activist Professor Tara Negi said that after the recent change of power in Chhattisgarh, incidents of violence and atrocities on human rights activists have increased in the state. Innocent people are being targeted. This is not only a violation of human rights but also an attack on the right to life given to citizens in the Constitution.
PUCL National President Kavita Shrivastava, PUCL Chhattisgarh Vice President Soni Sori, PUCL activist in Bastar Hidme Makam, feminist and PUCL Secretary of Chhattisgarh unit Rinchin, Senior Supreme Court Advocate Sanjay Parikh, PUCL General Secretary of Delhi Unit Mr TS Ahuja jointly with members of Chhattisgarh, Delhi and National PUCL, drew the attention of the national media to the violent situation in the state in a press meet held in the National Capital.

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