Uttar Pradesh : 22 May 2018 :
Yet another shocking violation of rights in Sonebhadra, Uttar Pradesh. As you may already know, the Adivasi women of the region have been fearless in their fight to reclaim their rights, first guaranteed by the Indian Constitution and the Forest Rights Act of 2006. Their battle for life and dignity pits them against the state’s Forest Department and government-backed multinationals that are determined to snatch away their land and livelihoods – but today, things have taken a dramatic turn for the worse.
This weekend, police officers barged into the huts of 10-12 Adivasi women and dragged them to the Nevarpur Thana without arrest warrants. Some of the women were cooking for their families, and some were even feeding their newborn babies. Our team acted quickly to investigate the situation, repeatedly calling the Nevarpur Thana where we put immense pressure on police officers to give us a justification for these arrests. As expected, the police falsely accused the Adivasi women of cutting down a “Forest Department afforestation project”, of which no record or public knowledge exists. False cases have been slapped and threats of even more dire criminal charges made to quell the mobilization for acquiring the Adivasis’ land and dignity.
Adivasis are widely known, and recognized, to be protectors of their forests. Why would they be cutting trees?
After our persistent intervention, the women were eventually released last Saturday only to be dropped 30 kilometers away from their homes, a distance they were forced to walk barefoot. Although their release was a small victory, today we woke up to some even more shocking news.
Just this morning, around 30 to 40 police officers allegedly again barged into the womens’ homes with sticks and a revolver gun, where they brutally assaulted not only women, but also children as young as 10 years old. One woman had been hit on the head so aggressively that she was bleeding profusely. As you read this, our team is working to investigate the incident so we can fight this disgusting injustice against defenseless Adivasi women and children. We Need You so that we can ensure that these women and children don’t have to fear for their lives.
CJP is also intervening in the courts, soon, to ensure that the false and fabricated cases against Adivasis and Forest Workers are quashed and their harassment by vested interests stops.