Updated: Mar 12
On January 23, 2017, around 30 people went to the house of Indian sociologist and human rights defender Bela Bhatia in Pandripani Village, which lies in the Bastar District of Chhattisgarh in Central India. They accused Bhatia of being a “Maoist sympathiser” and threatened to burn her house down if she did not leave immediately.
This threat came just days after Bhatia accompanied an National Human Rights Commission team to Bijapur to record statements from rape and assault victims--the NHRC recently released a report accusing Bastar Police personnel of raping 16 tribal women in the area.
Bhatia reportedly called the local police for help, but they failed to restrain the men until they tried to enter her house again. Similar intimidation tactics have been used in the past to apply pressure on activists fighting for tribal rights in Bastar. In 2016 lawyers representing the Jagdalpur Legal Aid group were similarly asked to leave after a few unidentified persons put pressure on their landlord.