Saturday, February 25, 2012

Police Assualts and Evictions

The Supreme Court recently vindicated Baba Ramdev's stand on the Ram Lila eviction drive, in which the Delhi police rescinded the permission granted to him to hold a protest meeting and arbitrarily assaulted the attendees and supporters gathered there in the middle of the night in a unannounced evacuation operation. The police action was deemed brutal, unnecessary and arbitrary. The court has ordered the police to prosecute those of its personnel who used undue force in the operation and has also determined the amount of compensation to be paid to those who were injured. We await to see the police follow through on these court directives. The eviction drive drew great national media attention when it took place, and the incursion on fundamental rights drew the ire of watchdogs everywhere.

According to a report by Manoranjan Routray (http://www.orissadiary.com/CurrentNews.asp?id=32166), on the 21st of February, in Narayanpatna and Bandhugan in Odisha, 5,000 tribals on their way to a two-day tribal convention at Balipeta Hatpada were assaulted and beaten by the local police. They were attacked by the police, who lathicharged them, and were forced to return to their villages. They attempted to recoup in a nearby village and find an alternative route to the venue, but they were dispersed again.

The convention, organized by local civil rights groups and the Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh, at Balipeta Hatpada, was to be attended by 10,000 tribals from across Koraput district.

The convention center - its furniture and tents - was set on fire and burned down by security personnel standing guard there. At another location, the police assaulted and dispersed another 1,000 tribals on their way to the convention. According to the report, about 9 tribal men have been arrested and illegally detained by local Border Security Force (BSF) personnel near Balipeta. Their families still haven't heard from them.

Baba Ramdev's interests and rights were vindicated by the Supreme Court, but it leaves one wondering whether the rights of 10,000 Odisha tribals in Koraput who were brutally assaulted by the police and prevented from attending a community convention there will ever be addressed by the law.

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