Mar 9, 2021, 21:58 IST


Activists in Bastar region are questioning the arrest of a woman tribal activist who was picked by the police on Tuesday during a protest in Dantewada district, accusing her of having Maoist links.

The activists alleged that the woman was arrested without any warrant and she was not a Maoist but a tribal activist working in the region for past 4-5 years, however police maintained that she was involved in several violent incidents and was arrested as per the legal procedures.

Demanding release of arrested Hidme Madkam, the activists including Soni Sori have demanded to free the Adivasi social worker stating that Hidme is a leader of several movements for welfare of Adivasis and is a strong voice in Bastar. The activists said that Hidme was president of ‘Jail Bandi Rihai’ committee and has met chief minister Bhupesh Baghel and Governor Anusuiya Uikey in regards with the matter.

Hundreds of tribal women had gathered in a protest on Tuesday led by tribal rights activist Soni Sori and Hidme Madkam at Sameli village of Dantewada district, demanding justice for “surrendered” woman Maoist Pande Kawasi who was found hanging at the police guest house recently. While the group was discussing the issue, a team of women personnel of District Reserve Guards and Danteshwari Fighters reached the spot and picked up Hidme.

A video shows that Hidme and others had a scuffle with police while she was being dragged into the vehicle. Soni Sori is seen arguing with the policemen asking for reason and warrant for the arrest.

In a statement, Sori said, “Hidme is a respected and highly committed activist in the region and it’s a shame how state treats its women on Women’s Day. We demand her immediate release because she is not a Maoist.”

However, Dantewada superintendent of police Abhishek Pallava said, “Hidme has five Naxal offences pending against her under serious sections of IPC, Arms act, Explosive Act and UAPA. She was a rewarded Maoist of Rs 1 lakh declared against her by government and Rs 10,000 by SP. Hidme was posted as range president of jantana sarkar and had many criminal offences in police records since 2016. We didn’t recognize her earlier but she was instrumental in killing of three villagers accusing them of being police informers. She was identified when the police spotters identified her while returning from Maoist operation.”
SP said that her name was put on banners and posters earlier circulated in Aranpur region. Hidme was arrested and has been sent on judicial remand till March 19 after court scrutiny.
“Hidme had an option to surrender under Lon Varratu campaign as her name was released in posters on number 11. While she was involved in heinous crimes like murder, CRPC gives police powers to arrest at any place wherever found,” Pallava said.
PUCL also expressed shock over the arrest and demanded release of Hidme, repeal of Lon Varratu campaign and dismantling District Reserve Guards Force.