Chhattisgarh vigilante outfit Samajik Ekta Manch on Friday announced that it will be dissolved, after reports that the state police was facilitating the group’s activities. The Bastar-based group was accused of being responsible for hounding journalists, human rights activists and lawyers out of the region. A sting by India Today showed Chhattisgarh police admitting that they worked in close association with the group. In a video, a police official is shown saying that they had driven an “international journalist” out of the state, and implied that the Manch was meant to fill a void left by the Salwa Judum.
In a statement on Friday, the group said that their objective was to protest against Naxalism in the state in a “peaceful, democratic” manner, but that some people had used them to “defame the government, local administration and police”.
Earlier in the year, Scroll.in journalist Malini Subramaniam was forced to leave the state after being harassed and threatened by members of the group who then claimed she had made false accusations against them. Subramaniam was among a few journalists who reported on police excesses in the region. The Manch was also held responsible for hounding out other activists who exposed state abuse in the region, around the time thatlocal Aam Aadmi Party leader Soni Sori was also attacked with hot grease.