Here’s why Chhattisgarh police won’t act against attackers

BY DILNAZ BOGA| IN Regional Media | 12/02/2016
Local Hindi papers expose links between the Samajik Ekta Manch (which attacked the Scroll contributor’s house) and the police.
DILNAZ BOGA analyses the articles and photographs

Invite for the January 16 wedding of surrendered Maoists describes on the right the police as the groom’s side (Var Paksh) and  the SEM as the bride’s side (Vadhu Paksh)

 

No need to read between the lines, the local newspapers have the answer.

Days after the members of the newly formed Samajik Ekta Manch (SEM) threw stones at Scroll.in correspondent Malini Subramaniam’s house in Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh, the local police reluctantly filed a First Information Report (FIR), which her lawyer states, has not named the attackers or has taken into account a series of intimidating events by the mob which led to the incident.

 

Malini Subramaniam’s car which was damaged in stone throwing

An analysis of the local Hindi newspapers of the last few weeks sheds light on the reasons behind why the police did not name the perpetrators in the FIR and exposes a deep nexus between SEM and the police. All these articles are available online.

In an article titled, ‘Rally me naxaliyo ko jamkar dhikkara’ (translated ‘Naxals were strongly condemned in the rally’) in the newspaper Nayi Duniya, dated 23rd December, 2015, a correspondent plainly states that the 'Dhikkar Rally' that was attended by 1,000 people was organised by members of SEM. The function also commemorated the slain Salwa Judum (a group made up of state-sponsored mercenaries and former Maoists) leader Mahender Karma. According to the newspaper, SEM organised the rally to “condemn naxalism”.

The relationship between SEM and the police becomes crystal clear in an article published on 14th January 2016 about the marriage function of two surrendered naxals arranged by the police and SEM in Eenadu India.

The photograph (which is also on SEM’s Facebook page) accompanying the article shows the couple on stage at their wedding, with a banner in the background which read, ‘Samajik Ekta Manch weds Police Department’. Strangely, the news item stated that the wedding took place on 16th January but the article was published on 14th January this year. The piece went on to state that the police represented the “bride’s side”, whereas the SEM were from the “groom’s side” and that the “kanyadaan was done by the police”.

For about a month members of SEM comprising BJP and Congress workers had threatened Subramaniam, who resides in Jagdalpur with her daughter, against writing articles that were critical of the police force in Scroll.in.

In another news piece from the newspaper Navi Duniya Jagran, published on 8th February 2016, SEM members along with Collector Amit Katariya, IG Kalluri and SP Dash participated in Jan Jagran Abhiyan in Koleng in Darba block of Bastar. At the meeting, people asked the officials for “roads, electricity and a police chowky”!

These propaganda pieces for the police department, state officials and SEM by some local media in Chhattisgarh have aided in proving an undeniable link between these power-brokers, leading to impunity. Meanwhile, lawyers and journalists who don’t toe the government’s line face mobs and threats by these non-state actors who work in tandem with the state.

 

(Dilnaz Boga is an independent journalist based in Mumbai. She is a Dart Asia Pacific Fellow 2015)

 

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