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Monday 30 January, 3-6 pm
Constitution Club of India (Dy. Speaker’s Hall, annexe)

Bastar in Chhattisgarh is the nursery where the Modi sarkar’s version of development – the offspring of the toxic marriage of corporate capitalism and militarised nationalism – is being carefully nurtured and brought to fruition.

The Maoist insurrection provides the perfect cover for the exploitation of Adivasi lands and forests, which are now defined not as part of India’s heritage of natural resources but as sources of profits for mining companies, businessmen and contractors. Bastar has been turned into a war zone where the Constitution is suspended and the rule of law does not exist even on paper. The police under the command of IG Bastar SRP Kalluri are brazen in their disregard for the Constitution and the rule of law, flouting all norms and procedures to establish a reign of terror and violence in the region.

Events over the last two years have shown how far the state is prepared to go in pushing this distorted version of development. Community leaders who question the actions of the police are arrested on vague charges and held for indefinite periods, with no access to courts or legal representation. Young Adivasis are picked up and forced to pose as “surrendered Maoists” or shot in cold blood and paraded as “Maoist commanders”. Police and paramilitary patrols roam the countryside, looting and plundering in the name of search and combing operations. Sexual violence against women is the strategy of choice to terrorise communities into silence.

Silence and invisibility are essential to the success of the Bastar model of development. The Bastar police has therefore launched a systematic campaign of intimidation and harassment against all those involved in investigating and exposing human rights violations in Bastar. Adivasi leaders, lawyers, media professionals, academics and researchers and social activists have all been targeted with threats, slander, false cases, illegal arrests and murderous attacks by the police and vigilante groups facilitated and patronised by them.

Soni Sori, Bela Bhatia and Shalini Gera are among the human rights defenders who are challenging the power of the state by breaking the silence and bearing witness to the attempted murder of democracy in Bastar.

We invite you to hear them speak about their lives and experiences in Bastar, and share the stories of resistance and resilience that the state is trying to silence and erase.

Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF)
A124/6 Katwaria Sarai
New Delhi 110 016.
Telefax: +91-11-40582589

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