In a Facebook post, deputy jailer Varsha Dongre, from Raipur Central Jail, has blown the lid on several human rights violations carried out by state police on Adivasi people in Chhattisgarh. The Huffington Post reported that Dongre’s status update was later deleted, but that it contained several damning statements about the kind of brutality reserved for Adivasi people in the state, including girls as young as 14.
The text of Dongre’s post, published in Hindi on Gaon Connection, reveals that women officers take young Adivasi girls into custody, strip them naked, and administer electric shocks on their hands and breasts, all of which she describes as “third-degree torture on minors.”
That Dongre states these incidents are happening in Bastar should come as no surprise to anyone. Last year, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) conducted a probe into incidents of mass sexual violence against Adivasi women in the area. Rameshwar Oraon, chairpersons of the NCST spoke to The Caravan about just how hopeless things had become, saying: “Transferring the cases out of the district is necessary because those responsible for investigating the crimes are themselves involved.”
In light of this, the revelations by Dongre are important. Before her post was taken down, it was shared widely on social media — much to the chagrin of police authorities in the state. As a result, the state has ordered a probe against her for raising these concerns on a public platform like Facebook. A senior government official said, “The CM (Raman Singh) had also asked officials to refrain from making such personal remarks.”
Following armed attacks in Sukma district that killed 35 CRPF soldiers in April, Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh has called for a meeting on May 5 to build a comprehensive strategy for a counter-attack in the region. Dongre’s comments are simply another side of the same coin because they highlight the larger situation in which human rights abuses against Adivasi people take place. In the now-deleted post, Dongre had written: “The truth is that all natural and mineral resources are in these forests, which industrialists and capitalists have to empty out in order to sell.”
She goes on to comment on what the Adivasi community in Chhattisgarh must go through because of this: “They want Naxalism to end, but the way that the protectors of the nation abuse their daughters and daughters-in-law, the way they are burning their houses, filing false complaints against them so they are sent to rot in prison… where will they go to get justice? Don’t take my word for it, the CBI reports say this, the Supreme Court says this, this is the ground reality.“