Are Tribals in Chhattisgarh Being Drone-Bombed? Activists Express Grave Concern
Expressing concern at the news reports on the existence of craters and bomb remnants in the forests of Sukma and Bijapur, the National Campaign to Defend Democracy (NCDD) has released a press note demanding the Union and Chhattisgarh government to come out clean on the incident.
According to The Quint, tribals in Chhattisgarh's Bijapur district have alleged that on the intervening night of April 14-15, the police carried out air raids and bombarded parts of the forest around their villages, in an attempt to neutralise Maoists. The villagers in Pamed block of Bijapur district say that they narrowly escaped what they claim was an air-raid conducted by the security forces.
The press release has asked three pertinent questions to the governments in question: first, under what law were aerial attacks carried out in the areas; second, if air-dropped lethal ammunition has been used in this incident, the government can no longer claim that conflict in Chattisgarh is a “non-international armed conflict,” and not a mere “law and order problem”; and finally, why is the Government taking so long to order an independent probe on the matter, if they firmly believe that the news is only “Maoist propaganda.”
“It may be recalled that in 2010 the then Air Chief Marshal had said “the military are not trained for limited lethality. The weapons we have are meant for the enemy across the border. Therefore, I am not in favour of use of air force in situations like the Naxal problem (The Hindu, 7 April 2010).” Ironically, now the same appears to have happened, though it may not involve the Air Force per se. The dangers of innocent Adivasis falling prey to the use of lethal ammunition and sophisticated attacks cannot be explained as "collateral" damage. Such actions potentially targeting civilians need to be stopped immediately,” the NCDD has added.
Signed by 30 prominent activists and organisations, such as PUCL, NFIW, John Dayal, Aakar Patel among others, the letter has demanded, among other things, the complete halting of drone-bombing in Chhattisgarh or any other Adivasi area, that the government engage in dialogue with villagers protesting against security camps, fake encounters, and mass arrests, an end to the militarising of Bastar with additional battalions and security camps, and the launching of peace negotiations with the Naxalites.
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