Chhattisgarh: An Unending Tale of Repression and Abuse of State Power

Published on: June 13, 2016

A Fact-Finding Report

Rising attacks against Christians in Chhattisgarh include brute majoritarianism that prevents them their religious and cultural rights even as Adivasis face repression over Private Corprate Land Grab in Raoghat Mines. This Fact Finding Report also documents the alleged rape of a14 year old girl by an official from the Chhattisgarh Armed Forces (CAF) jawan), on June 9. (Reports indicate that he has since been arrested)The incident highlights, once again the gendered violence that Adivasis are facing with no response from either the state or central government

Two Fact finding team teams covered 1650 kilometres in their journey, where they encountered more than 60 police and CRPF camps. But in the 25 villages that the teams visited, the villagers were insecure and suspicious of each other. In these 4 districts, political groups and other organizations are rather inactive, suggesting that the scope for democracy has shrunk there. Most of the villages visited by the teams were without electricity, without roads, and lacking in education and health facilities.

In Ketulnar, two baby girls died after drinking milk provided by the anganwadi. We found that the village had 8 mitanin who did not even have medicines to treat diarrhea and vomiting and the hospital is 10 kilometres away because of which the little girls could not be treated. Now after the death of the girls, medicines have been provided but a case of culpable homicide is yet to be registered against the milk provider.


Mother of Pandi at Palamgadu

Raipur, June 12, 2016
An 8-member fact-finding team of All India People’s Forum visited four districts of Bastar, Chhattisgarh between June 8-11, 2016. The fact-finding team found several incidents of communal violence against Christians; as well as fake encounters; rapes; fake cases and arbitrary arrests; and fake surrenders.

The AIPF team comprised former Madhya Pradesh MLA Dr Sunilam of Samajwadi Samagam, former Jharkhand MLA and CPIML Central Committee member Vinod Singh, Kavita Krishnan, Secretary of All India Progressive Women’s Association, Brijendra Tiwari of AICCTU, Amlan Bhatacharya, State Secretary of PUCL West Bengal, Advocate Aradhana Bhargava of Chhindwara, Advocate Ajoy Dutta of Kolkata and Amlendu Choudhury. Bela Bhatia and Soni Sori also accompanied the team.   

Communal Violence Against Christian Minorities
1. At several villages in Bastar district – including Karmari, Bade Thegli, Sirisguda and Belar – resolutions adopted under Section 129 (g) of Chhattisgarh Gram Panchayat Act have been wrongly invoked in violation of the spirit of the law to restrict non-Hindus from residing or building places of worship, even though the High Court has quashed such gram sabha resolutions in Karmari and Sirisguda.  

2. In Bhadhisgaon (Tokapal Panchayat) in Bastar district, Pastor Pilaram Kawde was given a written notice by the Gram Panchayat denying permission to him to construct a place of worship on his own land. The written notice cited Sections 55 (1) and (2) Chhattisgarh Gram Panchayat Act 1993 and said that Pastor Pileman cannot construct a place of worship because “People of big-big castes and religions live in this village, and every Dussehra even the Roopshila Devi Ma joins the celebrations.” 
3. Christians are being prevented from using burial grounds in several villages. In Bhadisgaon, an elderly Christian lady Saradi Bai died on 25.5.2016, but Hindu villagers provoked by the Bajrang Dal stopped Christians from burying her. Eventually, after negotiations conducted by the police, she was buried in a casket but without the cross – but the Hindu villagers warned that no future Christian burial would be allowed. Accordingly, the 200 Christians of the village gave applications to the SDM, Tehsildar, police and Sarpanch asking that burial grounds be allotted separately for Christians, since they were being prevented from using the common burial grounds. 

4. Saradi Bai’s husband Sukhdev Netam passed away on 6.6.2016, and Hindu villagers prevented Christians from carrying out his last rites and burying him, threatening to kill them if they tried to bury him. Eventually after police arrived, he was buried but again, the villagers and Sarpanch warned that in future, they will call Bajrang Dal if there is any attempt by Christians in the village to use the burial grounds.