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Chhattisgarh Government eyeing Adivasi lands, says activist Soni Sori

Operation Green Hunt’ is an attempt to kill tribals on the pretext of links with Maoists, says the AAP leader from Chhattisgarh

have lived the death too. I am not afraid of anything now. Let them jail me, let them kill me, but they cannot muzzle my voice,” asserts Soni Sori, the gutsy Adivasi activist and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader from Chhattisgarh whose unyielding fight with the government is legendary.

In the city on Saturday to address the Civil Liberties Committee’s meeting on ‘Civil and Democratic Rights – State Repression’, Ms. Sori minces no words in debunking the ‘Operation Green Hunt’ as an attempt to kill Adivasis on the pretext of links with Maoists.

“Ending the Maoist insurgency is not difficult for the ‘Sarkar’. But its intention is different. It aims to kill Adivasis and snatch their lands,” she says, referring back to the conversation she reportedly had with a high ranking police official.

“When he advised me to stop my fight, I told him I would, if they stopped killing Adivasis. He told me government wants Adivasi lands, hence the killings. When I questioned why non-Adivasis are not being killed though they too have lands, he said government cannot take tribal lands owing to PESA Act,” she recounts, and says she heard the same from other officials too.

PESA Act or Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act identifies tribal hamlets as panchayats and authorises them to manage natural resources and approve or reject any land acquisition proposal. The tribal lands were reportedly sought for establishment of units by multi-national companies.

Ms.Sori terms the present bout of terror as ‘Salwa Judum Part-II’, which inlcudes killing of Adivasis in “encounters”, acid attack on her and eviction of journalists and lawyers from Bastar. “Many Adivasis had to leave their ‘Matrubhumi’ due to Salwa Judum attacks back then. The atrocities came down after Supreme Court intervention, but now more organisations are coming up with the same agenda,” she says. Ms. Sori shot to headlines when she was arrested by the Chhattisgarh police on allegations of Maoist links, and allegedly subjected to severe torture and sexual assault.

“As a village teacher, I confronted Maoists when they blasted the hostel building. They told me they would not touch the building on the condition that the police did not halt there. I agreed for the bargain, and asked the police not to take shelter there. I even represented the matter to the district Collector,” Ms. Sori said, recalling how her persecution began. She also objected to Salwa Judum, and questioned contractors about construction of school buildings, which incurred the wrath of the powers.

She was distanced by her family when her name was associated with Maoists, and none came to visit her in the jail. “Relatives don’t invite me to weddings even now. I too don’t attend because it will increase police surveillance on them,” Ms.Sori says, adding, “My future is my fight.”

Her face still burnt from the peeling of the skin due to the acid attack, and she was scheduled to visit a private hospital here for treatment.http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/government-eyeing-adivasi-lands-says-activist-soni-sori/article8543155.ece

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