Routine raids, beatings, loot, detentions and compelling tribal villagers to perform begaar or free labour and a large number of permanent warrants are among the allegations the latest report of the People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) has levelled against security forces in Bijapur district of south Chhattisgarh. A PUDR fact-finding team published its report on Thursday, after visiting nine villages in December last to “ascertain reports of arrests, intimidation and harassment, including sexual abuse by security forces stationed there to fight Maoists.”
“A rough estimate indicates that 15,000-35,000 people live under the threat and fear of arrest warrants in Bijapur alone. Instances of sexual torture of tribals were also noted. In flagrant disregard of international covenants, the security forces deliberately regard passengers in local transport as ‘human shields’ during possible encounters,” the report said. Blaming the police camps for affecting the living conditions of tribals, the report said the present situation was comparable to, and a continuance of, the Salwa Judum activities: eviction and mass displacement of villagers from 2005 to 2009.
“Despite recurrent… bomb explosions and targeting of the roads by Maoists, the villagers fear the security camps as it is the armed personnel who punish and brutalise them. The aim of the present military initiative is to cleanse the area for redoubled mining activity,” the report said. In a statement sent to The Hindu , CPI (Maoist) south regional committee secretary Ganesh Uike accused the security forces of killing around 20 “innocent villagers” in “fake encounters” in Bijapur between January 2014 and January 2015, and they were later declared “Maoists.”