A day after a freelance journalist who reported from Bastar was evicted, two human rights lawyers were “forcibly” asked to vacate their residence on Saturday, allegedly at the behest of the Bastar police.
“We were forced to pack-up. Will leave Bastar tonight. It’s sad. Our landlord was twice summoned to the police station. Under pressure, he asked us to move out of his house,” one of the lawyers, Isha Khandelwal, told HT. Khandelwal and her colleague Shalini Gere worked for the Legal Aid Group in Jagdalpur (JagLAG), which was formed in July 2013 in Bastar district and comprises women lawyers who assist tribals and others who are “falsely implicated” in Maoist-related cases for free.
Earlier, journalist Malini Subramaniam, who contributed articles to online portal Scroll.in and, over the past one year, wrote extensively on alleged fake surrenders, arrests of journalists and tribal protests, was also evicted from her house.
Taking cognisance of the alleged intimidation of the lawyers, Human rights NGO Amnesty International India urged the Chhattisgarh government to ensure the lawyers are able to carry out their professional duties without intimidation, harassment or improper interference. “The Chhattisgarh government must recognise the crucial role that human rights lawyers play in upholding the rule of law, and investigate any threats they may face,” said Makepeace Sitlhou, campaigner at Amnesty International India.