25/10/2016 10:32 AM IST | Updated 25/10/2016 1:11 PM IST

Police Burn Effigies Of Activists In Bastar After CBI Charges 7 Constables

Those indicted had burnt down 160 huts in a village in Sukma district.

Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Voters showing their ID cards at a polling booth during the first phase of assembly elections of Chhattisgarh in Jagadalpur, November 2013, in Bastar. (Photo by Parwaz Khan/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

A couple of days after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) charged seven constables, employed with Chhattisgarh police, with arson and causing grievous hurt by setting 160 huts ablaze in Tadmetla village of Sukma district in 2011, protests erupted in parts of Bastar.

According to a report in The Indian Express, auxiliary constables, or sahayak arakshaks, some in uniform, took to the streets of Jagdalpur, Dantewada, Bijapur, Kondagaon, Sukma and Narayanpur, with slogans on their lips, and burnt the effigies of social activists Nandini Sundar, Bela Bhatia and Himanshu Kumar, as well as political leaders, Soni Sori and Manish Kunjam.

READ: If Vigilantism Continues Unchecked, The Future Of Adivasis, And India As A Whole, Is Bleak: Nandini Sundar

While Sundar is the petitioner in the Tadmetla case, the others have incurred the ire of the agitators for being alleged "Naxal sympathisers". Some of the protestors are reformed Naxalites, later elevated to the rank of Special Police Officers (SPO), which was subsequently banned, before finally being rechristened as auxiliary constables. They also wrote letters to the police superintendents in different parts of Bastar expressing their anger.

The CBI has also charged 26 others, mostly members of the controversial vigilante group Salwa Judum, which was banned by the Supreme Court in 2012, with rioting and violence. Some of these people had attacked politician and activist Swami Agnivesh, his team and media persons who were on their way to Tadmetla with relief for those whose houses had been burnt down.

The atrocities took place between 11-16 March 2011 in the three villages of Morpalli, Tadmetla and Timmapuram, formerly a part of the Dantewada district, before the new district of Sukma was carved out.

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