A woman official of the government of Chhattisgarh has irked the authorities with a Facebook post raising questions about a model of governance that allows for alleged harassment of tribal people in the state.
"I am a witness to the torture of minor tribal girls ... In the police stations, women personnel have stripped and tortured girls as old as 14 and 16 ... They were given electric shock on their hands and breasts. I have seen the marks ... I was horrified ... Why third-degree torture on minors? I have given directions for their treatment", Varsha Dongre, deputy jailer of Raipur Central Jail, recently wrote in a post in Hindi.
"We need to introspect, because those who are getting killed in either side of this war in Bastar are our own people. The capitalist system is being forced on Bastar, tribals are being pushed out of their lands, their villages are being burnt, women raped — all this to grab land and forests. All this isn't being done to end Naxalism", she added.
Coming in the wake of the Maoist attack on CRPF jawans in Sukma district of the state, her comments were shared widely on social media. The jail department has ordered a probe, based on her allegations.
"The tribals can't leave this place as it is their land but when law-enforcers target women and minor girls and false case are registered, where do the victims go for justice?" she went on. "The CBI report says it, the court says it — this is the reality. When human rights workers or journalists tell the truth, they are sent to jail. If everything is fine in tribal lands, why government is so afraid and why people are not allowed to go there?"
Dongre invoked India's constitution to say it doesn't allow anyone the right to harass and torture another citizen. "A particular kind of development can't be thrust on the adivasis," she said. "Farmers and jawans are brothers, they shouldn't kill each other."
Known to be an upright officer, Dongre had approached the Chhattisgarh High Court in the PSC scam case in 2007. Based on a Right to Information application filed by her, action against top PSC officials, accused of irregularities and corruption.
After her post drew attention and caused a controversy, Dongre has now been taken off. However, talking to media persons later, she said that she had merely exercised her right to freedom of expression.
Meanwhile, a probe has been ordered by the jail authorities. "A top jail official has ordered an inquiry in this regard", a prison department official said. A DIG-rank officer would conduct the probe, sources said.
The full post in Hindi, now deleted, is below.
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