Chhattisgarh's prisoners of conscience: Lingaram Kodopi and Soni Sori
Kodopi, 25, and his 35-year-old aunt, who has been brutally tortured, are actually prisoners of conscience, say rights activists and lawyers.
Once the poster boy of tribals in Bastar, Kodopi, who was training to be a multimedia journalist who could help empower his community with information and awarenss, is lodged in the Jagdalpur Central Jail while Sodi is nursing wounds in the Raipur Central Jail after undergoing treatment for a month at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi in June.
The two tribals have been booked under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act 2005 besides various sections of the Indian Penal Code for allegedly aiding Maoist guerrillas.
But activists say the duo have been jailed for questioning human rights violations by police and security forces in the state.
"Lingaram and his aunt have bleak chances of coming out on bail in the near future since the two acts they have been booked under provide unbridled power to the state to linger a trial," said Ramesh Varlyani, an advocate here.
"Chhattisgarh has an unwritten set of rules about how an adivasi should behave. You don't organise; you don't agitate; you don't protest against human rights violations; you don't protest against the state; and you certainly don't protest against industrial houses that are in Bastar to usher in the industrial revolution," Himanshu Kumar, member of the Chhattisgarh chapter of the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), told IANS.
But police allege the duo helped the rebels.
The water level of the Yamuna river has crossed the danger mark in Delhi, increasing the threat of flood. Locals are gearing to face the crisis as the rains are at least twice as heavy as usual in northwest and central parts of India.
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