Monday, January 23, 2017

Social activist Bela Bhatia threatened, asked to leave Bastar in 24 hours

Social activist Bela Bhatia was allegedly threatened by a group of men who barged into her home in Bastar on Monday morning. Around 30 men arrived at Bhatia’s home in Parpa village and gave her 24 hours to vacate the house.  They threatened to burn it down if she refused to comply. This comes days after Bhatia accompanied an National Human Rights Commission team to Bijapur to record statements of rape and assault victims. The NHRC recently released a report, accusing Bastar Police personnel of raping 16 tribal women in the area.

Bhatia reportedly called the local police for help, but they failed to restrain the men, except for when they tried to enter her house again. Similar intimidation tactics have been used in the past to apply pressure on activists fighting for tribal rights in Bastar. In 2016, lawyers representing the Jagdalpur Legal Aid group were also similarly asked to leave after a few unidentified persons had put pressure on their landlord.

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