Cops Book Soni Sori, Bela Bhatia for Protesting ‘Fake’ Encounter

Bhatia reportedly said the Chhattisgarh cops should investigate ‘fake’ encounters instead of slapping cases on them.

2 min read
Activist and AAP member Soni Sori in New Delhi.

Police in Chhattisgarh booked Adivasi activists Soni Sori and Bela Bhatia under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (disobedience of order duly promulgated by public servant) for ‘protesting against the alleged fake encounter’ of 13 September, reported the Hindustan Times.

According to the report, Abhishek Pallava, SP of Dantewada said that Bhatia and Sori had instigated hundreds of tribals to participate in the protest, in violation of the imposition of Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) in the region by the authorities because of local bypolls.

The SP told HT that:

“Bela Bhatia and Soni Sori instigated tribals from far-flung villages to protest and gherao police station Kirandul, in spite of section 144 CrPC in place because of bypoll. The protest caused an obstruction in working of the police station, so FIR has been registered.”

Two alleged Maoists, Lachu Mandavi and Podiya Sori lost their lives in the encounter on night of 13-14 September. Along with Bhatia and Sori, some 150 villagers reportedly protested the deaths, claiming that innocent villagers had been killed and not Maoists.

According to the cops, both Sori and Mandavi commanded the Malangir area for the CPI (Maoist).

‘Cops Muzzling Dissent’: Bela Bhatia

Speaking to HT, Bhatia said that instead of filing fake FIRs against her, the cops should investigate the ‘fake’ encounter. She also raised the issue of the detention of Ajay Telam, who had been taken by security forces on 13 September and asked for his release.

“The police have chosen to be vindictive. We have been wrongly accused of instigating and mobilizing the few hundred people who had come on their own volition to Kirandul police station to protest against the fake encounters and to secure the release of Ajay Telam from illegal police custody,” Bhatia told HT.

Bhatia also said that the government should be careful of taking short cuts like fake encounters and quelling non-violent dissent as these were only aggravating the issues and not solving anything.

The SP said that Ajay Telam, whose release is also being demanded, had given a clarification to the cops on 16 September. “On Friday Bhima has also surrendered who was forced to give false statements under pressure of social activist,” the SP reportedly said.

(With inputs from Hindustan Times)

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