JUSTICE FOR THE VILLAGERS OF SARKEGUDA, KOTTEGUDA AND RAJPENTA, (DISTRICT BIJAPUR, CHHATTISGARH) IS CRUCIAL FOR PEACE IN BASTAR.
17 unarmed adivasi villagers were killed and a number of them injured in the night of 28th June 2012, as they were gathered to hold a traditional meeting before sowing of seeds in a village clearing between Sarkeguda and Kotteguda, a mere 1 km from Basaguda Police Station, in district Bijapur, Chhattisgarh. They had been surrounded by security forces and shot at as suspected Naxals.
Independent media reports have established that those killed were local villagers with legal identities, and several fact finding teams, including those of the Congress Party and the Adivasi Mahasabha, have confirmed that six were minors. There have been protest demonstrations all over the Bastar region. Village representatives have met the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh as well as the Union Home Minister to demand justice, and allege that they continue to be harassed and threatened, with another camp being set up in their village. They fear that, like similar incidents earlier, the truth may simply be covered up.
The Judicial Enquiry Commission announced by the Chhattisgarh Government in the month of July has yet to visit the village or begin recording the statements of the villagers. We earnestly believe that a truly fair and thorough enquiry into the incident, clearly affixing responsibility, would go a long way in restoring the confidence of the adivasis of Bastar in the Rule of Law, and in contributing to de-escalation of violence and to peace.
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