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False and fabricated case against women activists

Image Credit :- Hindustan Times

Soni Sori, Bela Bhatia, Nanda & others

Activists and Human Rights Defenders



HRDA has issued an urgent appeal to the National Human Rights Commission of India on September 30, 2019 regarding the false and fabricated FIRs filed against human rights defenders Soni Sori, who is tribal rights activist and current member of Aam Aadmi Party, Bela Bhatia, who is a researcher, lawyer and tribal rights activist, 150-200 villagers of Kirandul village and its sarpanch, Mrs. Nanda and her husband, Mr.  Bhima, at Kirandul police station in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh. Ms. Sori has been fighting police atrocities and has been subjected to harassment and intimidation because of her work. Ms. Bhatia has focussed on exposing rape and sexual assault by security forces in Chhattisgarh  participated in several fact-finding missions and served on a Planning Commission for the region.

The two alleged Maoists, Lachu Mandavi and Podiya Sori were killed in the encounter on the intervening night of September 13 and 14, 2019, in a forest near Kutrem village in the Kirandul police station area in Dantewada district. Police claimed that both were commanders of Malangir area committee of CPI (Maoist) carrying rewards of Rs 5 lakh each for information leading to their capture. Ms. Bhatia first raised suspicions about the encounter, claiming they were fired upon by district reserve guards personnel, and villagers alleged the same. On September 15, 2019, Ms. Sori and Ms. Bhatia visited the place where the alleged encounter took place. On the evening of September 16, 2019, the two activists along with the mother of the villager who was in custody and another villager had submitted a complaint against the extra-judicial killing of Podiya Sori and Lachchu Mandavi and disappearance of Mr. Ajay Telam in Kirandul police station. However, the complaint was not registered.

After a protest on September 16, 2019 against the extrajudicial killing in Kirandul, Chhattisgarh Police registered an FIR at Kirandul police station of Dantewada district against Ms. Sori and Ms. Bhatia, Mrs. Nanda and her husband, Mr. Bhima, and 150-200 unnamed villagers. The FIR registered under IPC Section 188 relates to disobeying instruction issued by a public servant. They have been booked for allegedly holding a protest illegally and shouting slogans against the administration and the police in Dantewada during the Model Code of Conduct. According to the FIR, Ms. Sori and Ms. Bhatia "instigated tribal" from remote villages to gherao a police station, allegedly obstructing its operations in violation of prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC, which are in place because of the by-election scheduled for September 23, 2019.

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