Sections of police in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar on Monday held protests against the Central Bureau of Investigation’s indictment of seven constables with arson in raids on three villages in the Sukma district in 2011. Protestors also burnt effigies of activists and political leaders including Soni Sori and Nandini Sundar, according to The Indian Express.
The protestors said that while they were fighting Maoists “under the harshest circumstances”, the continued to face allegations on a daily basis from “Naxal sympathisers”. Activists including Himanshu Kumar, Bela Bhatia and Manish Kunjam were attempting to “defame the police”, the auxiliary constables said in a letter to several Superintendents of Police. The letter said the activists had “misled the court” in the Tadmetla arson case and accused them of being funded by the Maoists.
Kondagaon Superintendent of Police Santosh Singh said the protestors were angry because they were having to “face all sorts of questions” despite fighting the Naxalites. Responding to the protests, Nandini Sundar accused the state police had no regard for any investigative agency or the courts. “Incidents like these make me afraid for the security of people like Manish Kunjam, who has been working tirelessly for the people of Bastar,” she said.
Between March 11 and March 16, 2011, the police had carried out an anti-Maoist operation in the forests of Sukma district (then part of Dantewada district) in the Bastar region in Southern Chhattisgarh. During the course of the operation, the police torched more than 200 homes and granaries in the three Adivasi villages of Morpalli, Tadmetla and Teemapuram.
The Supreme Court had directed the CBI to investigate the arson and violence following social activist Swami Agnivesh's petition after he was attacked by a mob while travelling to the villages with relief supplies. The mob reportedly included special police officers and Salwa Judum members. Residents of the villages had also alleged that special police officers raped three women during the violence.