Activist or Maoist? Conflicting claims over a woman’s arrest in Chhattisgarh
Arrest of a suspected Maoist, Madkam Hidme, in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada has led to a conflict, with some locals claiming she was an activist, who was booked in some old cases and arrested without any warrant. The police have refuted the allegations and said Hidme was involved in serious cases of Maoist violence in the recent past.
The activists in the Bastar region claimed that Hidme was president of 'Jail Bandi Rihai' (freedom from jail) committee and was framed by the police. They further allege that she was arrested on Tuesday during a protest seeking justice for surrendered woman Maoist, Pande Kawasi, who was found hanging in the last week of February.
A statement issued by tribal leader Soni Sori stated that Hidme was a respected activist in the region, and her arrest on Women's Day was a matter of shame.
“I demand her immediate release because she is not a Maoist and police have framed her,” said Sori in a press release.
The Chhattisgarh unit of People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and Chhattisgarh Mahila Adhikar Manch, in a joint statement, condemned the arrest and demanded Hidme's release.
However, Dantewada superintendent of police, Abhishek Pallava said Hidme had five offences pending against her under serious sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Arms act, Explosives Act and the UAPA.
“She has a reward of ₹1 lakh declared against her post (Range Jantana Sarkar Adhyaksh- a position in the Maoist organisation) by the government and ₹10,000 by the SP. She was instrumental in the killing of three villagers on pretext of them being police informers. Her name has been put in banners and posters pasted in PS Aranpur. Village Sarpanch was also counselled to get her to surrender,” said the SP.
He further said that necessary legal action was taken after her positive identification by the spotters. “Crimes (against her name) have been registered in as early as 2016, so she was active at least for past six years” the SP said.