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Activist Bela Bhatia Attacked, Goons Threaten To Kill Her If She Doesn't Leave Bastar In 24 Hours

Just days after she accompanied a team to record the statements of rape and sexual assault survivors.

23/01/2017 8:17 PM IST | Updated 23/01/2017 9:34 PM IST
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Bastar-based academic and researcher Bela Bhatia was attacked in Chhattisgarh's Bastar today by a group of people on Monday morning. According to reports, 30 men allegedly barged into Bhatia's home and gave her 24 hours to leave.

The goons reportedly told her that she would be killed and her home would be burnt down if she didn't leave immediately.

This comes days after the activist accompanied a National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) team to record the statements of rape and sexual assault survivors who have filed FIRs against police personnel.

The attackers came in an SUV and several bikes, Bhatia's partner, renowned economist Jean Dreze, told NDTV.

"They threatened to burn the house, kill her dog etc, and also threatened the landlady," he said.

"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.

Bhatia has been in the crosshairs of the Chhattisgarh administration ever since she helped tribal women register an FIR against security personnel for gang rape and grievous sexual assault in November 2015.

It was the first time security personnel was accused of rape under the new, stringent anti-rape law or the Criminal Law Amendment Act (2013).

And this isn't the first time she was threatened.

While Bhatia was being accused of fabricating the cases, a series of incidents took place. "On February 18, plainclothesmen questioned my landlord and called him to the village thana. Then, on February 23, the thanedar (Station House Officer) came to my home to take a video in my absence. On March 26, a mob of 100 people came. I wasn't at home. They came in a jeep and a pick-up truck and questioned my landlord. They told him, I was a dalal (tout) for the naxals," she said.

The mob asked her landlord to evict her.

Bhatia's landlord in Parpa had asked her to vacate her house, despite the fact that she had paid rent for an entire year.

Despite the threats, she had decided not to leave Bastar then. "I have been working here since 2007, researching on counter-insurgency. I have heard of people being arbitrarily picked up. I will not move out of Bastar," she had said.

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