A day after Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi came in support of Bela Bhatia, Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh met the social activist in Jagdalpur and assured her of all protection and the freedom to continue her work among the tribals of the state.
Singh told her that she can continue to live at her present location and if she feels insecure the government will provide her alternative accommodation in Bastar.
Bhatia submitted a hand-written letter to the chief minister detailing the incident of January 23 and the general atmosphere of intimidation of social workers, lawyers, journalist and others by the state administration.
She also sought Raman Singh’s assurance on a list of four demands, including the upholding of the rule of law by all state institutions; unrestricted access without interference to all independent observers visiting or residing in Bastar in their professional capacity.
She also demanded that no state support or sponsorship should be given to any private group that attempts to intimidate or interfere with such visits or residents; and swift and strict punishment for anyone who has indulged in such intimidation or interference.
Earlier in the day, the principal secretary (home) and special DGP (Naxal) met Bhatia at her residence in village Pandripani and reviewed the security provided to her. They assured her of her safety and told the media that she can work in Bastar without fear.
On Monday morning, a mob had assembled outside her house and threatened to set it ablaze if she did not vacate it within 24 hours. The activist later called the collector for help, who sent police to control the crowd.
After Rahul Gandhi tweeted his support of Bhatia, the Congress leader of opposition in state assembly, TS Singhdeo also came out in her support and slammed the government. Singhdeo talked to Bela and issued a press note on Thursday claiming the role of Bastar police is suspicious.