Raipur: An activist was threatened in Chhattisgarh’s Parpa village on the outskirts of Jagdalpur, the Bastar district headquarters on Monday by some 30 men who allegedly barged into her home and gave her 24 hours to leave.
Bela Bhatia, a researcher and social activist, was allegedly told by the goons that she would be killed and her home would be burnt down if she didn’t leave immediately. They also allegedly forced Bhatia and her landlady to sign an undertaking that she would vacate the house within a day.
The incident comes two days after Bhatia visited the villages of Pedagellur and Bellam Nendra in Bijapur with a National Human Rights Commission team that recorded statements of women who had allegedly been the victims of rape, physical and sexual assault by security personnel between October 2015 and January 2016.
The attackers came in an SUV and several bikes, Ms Bhatia’s partner, renowned economist Jean Dreze, said. “They threatened to burn the house, kill her dog etc, and also threatened the landlady,” he said.
Dr Dreze said Ms Bhatia somehow managed to call the police, who came but could not do much. “Bela agreed to leave and pleaded for time – a few days. They refused and wanted her to leave immediately. Eventually they agreed to give her 24 hours to leave,” he said.
Bastar District Magistrate Amit Kataria said he received a call from Bhatia that her home had been surrounded, and “immediately sent a police force”.
Ms Bhatia has worked for several years in Bastar, a part of Chhattisgarh that is severely affected by Maoist violence. She has alleged threats ever since she helped tribal women allegedly raped by security personnel file police cases in 2015.