Social activist and researcher Bela Bhatia was allegedly threatened by a group of men in Bastar on Monday. The accused allegedly gheraoed her house at Parpa village and gave her 24 hours to vacate the house. The men also threatened to burn it down if she refused to comply.
This comes only two days after Bhatia accompanied a National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) team to Bijapur to record statements of rape and assault victims. The NHRC recently released a report, accusing Bastar policemen of raping 16 tribal women in the area.
“The men came on bikes and a SUV car and threatened to set my house ablaze if I did not vacate it,” Bhatia told reporters. The activist later called the collector for help, who sent police to control the crowd.
Bhatia told HT that she would vacate the house as there was a lot of pressure on her landlord. “…but I will not leave Bastar. I have asked the collector for security,” she said.
This is not the first time that the activist, who has been working for the uplift of tribals over the last decade, has received threats. She had faced similar intimidation in 2015 when she had raised the issue of rape of tribal women by security personnel.
According to superintendent of police, Jagdalpur, RN Dash, there were complaints about Bhatia’s alleged nexus with Maoist outfits. The academician recently gave an interview to a magazine supporting the Maoist ideology.
“The villagers were also angry with Bhatia after she named herself Bela Somari, which is insulting for local tribal masses…Police have been deployed (outside her house) to prevent any untoward incident,” Dash added.