PUCL Bulletin, June 2002

Chhattisgarh PUCL memo to the Governor
Attack on human rights at Nagarnar on 10th March 2002

Chhattisgarh PUCL report

As part of the legitimate exercise of their Fundamental Rights and their Human Rights, and as part of their rights under the Panchayati Raj (Extension to Scheduled areas) Act, the people of 5 villages around Nagarnar in District Bastar have been opposing the acquisition of their agricultural land by the Government of Chhattisgarh for the purpose of building a Steel Plant by the NMDC. Numerous incidents of breach of Human Rights have already occurred in the course of this campaign.

Yesterday in a further instance of blatant breach of Human Rights hundreds of village people have been arrested and removed from Nagarnar. Numerous people, including women and the aged, have been seriously injured in the course of a Lathi charge by the Police carried out in the presence of the Inspector General of Police. Houses have been broken and broken into and cycles, motorcycles, and other properties wantonly destroyed. It is worth noting that the victims of these operations are Tribal people within Schedule V area organized to struggle for their rights. These punitive operations continued till after midnight last night. When contacted the Chief Minister said that these arrests were preventive in nature. The natural question is what it is that they were seeking to prevent. Such punitive actions cannot be legitimately taken by the State to prevent and pre-empt the legitimate exercise by already oppressed people of their legitimate Human Rights under law.

We urgently request your immediate and effective intervention to stop this miscarriage of law and justice by the State machinery in Chhattisgarh. We would also like to draw your attention to the reported statement of Shri Baliram Kashyap, a senior Politician of the region, linking the people's resistance to the Pakistan ISI. Such irresponsible statements can only serve to heighten and polarize an already explosive situation. Looking forward to your urgent intervention. -- Dr. Binayak Sen, State Convener, PUCL

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