The Bastar police filed six cases of Maoist violence against him earlier this year and clapped him in jail. But courts in Sukma and Dantewada districts acquitted him, hardly eight months later.
Ayata Mandavi, a popular tribal activist of Bade Gurbe village in Sukma district and a close aide of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Soni Sori, is still being hounded by the Bastar police who have threatened with more such cases him if he joins the AAP. “I was freed from jail on October 23, but I could not stay at home for more than two days because I was getting constant calls from the Kukanar police, who ask me to come to the station. The police say Bastar Inspector-General of Police S.R.P. Kalluri has ordered them to do so. They say that even if a pit is dug in Kukanar by Naxals, they will implicate me in it,” Mr. Mandavi told The Hindu.
Mr. Mandavi is scared to go the station, fearing more cases.
“I have been forced to live in fear despite the acquittal by the courts. I am sleeping at my neighbours’ houses. How can I trust them [the police] after facing six false? I could not even go to the funeral of one of my relatives at Jagdalpur,” he said.
Ms. Sori said the Bastar police were mounting pressure on Mr. Mandavi to dissuade him from joining her party. “They [the police] have done it in the past. When he was in jail for eight months, a senior police officer in Jagdalpur would go to meet him and persuade him to stop working with me for the tribals, offering him a good lawyer and speedy discharge in the cases,” Ms. Sori. “Ayata Mandavi is an extremely passionate tribal activist. Despite repeated allurements and threats from a top police officer of Bastar, he told him that he would stay in jail for ten years rather than being disloyal to the tribal cause. If there are a few more people like him in Bastar championing the tribal cause, Bastar will be free from the upheaval. Despite police threats, he would soon join the AAP,” she said.
This is not the first that the Bastar police are going after Mr. Mandavi.
In November last year, a police team, sent to Bade Gurbe village to arrest him, instead picked up his wife Sukadi. This sparked a major protest by the villagers.
According a police source, Mr. Mandavi was running some construction contracts in Kukanar with the help of Maoists.
His lawyer Isha Khandelwal said all the six cases against him were “false and baseless.”
Mr. Kalluri did not respond when his reaction was sought to Mr. Mandavi’s charges against the police.