The Chhattisgarh government has ordered an inquiry into security personnel in Bastar torching effigies of human-rights activists early this week, and suspended eight police officers the CBI charge-sheeted in a related five-year-old case.
Bastar commissioner Dilip Vasnikar will probe against uniformed men of armed auxiliary forces who set afire effigies of six people including a journalist, an official note said.
The effigies burnt were of CPI leader Manish Kunjam, social workers Bela Bhatia and Himanshu Kumar, Delhi University professor Nandini Sundar and Aam Aadmi Party leader Soni Sori besides newsperson Malini Subramaniam, who had to move out of the tribal belt for reporting state violence.
Monday’s Bastar episode happened two days after the Supreme Court noted that the CBI had charge-sheeted seven officers of the special police force — the earlier name for armed auxiliary forces — for setting tribal villages ablaze in a Dantewada village in March 2011.
The CBI’s charge sheet on the arson named 26 Salwa Judum activists who attacked social worker Swami Agnivesh on his visit to the affected Tarmetla on a fact-finding mission.
Bastar and Dantewada in south Chhattisgarh adjoin Maoist-affected districts and part of a Red Corridor that experience considerable insurgency. Salwa Judum is a 2005-initiated tribal militia aimed at countering Naxalite violence in the state.
As for the inquiry into the Monday’s incident, government sources said a letter has also been sent to superintendents of police to immediately suspend eight officers named in the CBI charge sheet on the Tarmtla case that involved burning 200 houses and granaries of that village.
On Wednesday, the CPI’s Kunjam, who is also a tribal activist, sought to hold a press conference in Bastar. While speaking to journalists about Monday’s effigy-burning issue, more than dozen people stormed in and raided the place.
“I could identify two of the persons,” Kunjam told Hindustan Times. “We have filed a police complaint.”