Protesting victimisation of innocent citizens on trumped up of being Naxalites, as many as 100 gram panchayat members have submitted their resignations in Korchi tehsil of Maharashtra. They include 24 sarpanchs and Police patils of several villages.
The move comes as a severe blow to the Gadchiroli district administration; 106 representatives of various elected bodies in different parts of the district had resigned earlier for the same reasons.
“Police officials routinely beat up or arrest people on charges that they are Naxalites. Ordinary citizens have no way to protect themselves against such attacks,” says Nandkishor Vairagade, secretary of Sarpanch Sanghatana in Korchi. He informs that as recently as June 29, around 22 people were beaten up in village Phulgondi; a few days prior to that, seven women were seriously injured in police beatings in village Nadekal. “A complaint to this effect was made with the tehsildar but no steps were taken to check the atrocities or even to probe the matter,” Vairagade adds.
The resignations followed a meeting of the Sarpanch Sanghatana on July 9, following administration’s failure to act on the complaint.
The district administration, on the other hand, has dubbed the protest as one against mining and under Naxalite pressure. Earlier in March, the tehsil residents had boycotted elections of zilla parishad, demanding that administration provide information about the proposed iron-ore mining in the region (Sarpanch Sanghatana) has, however denied that the protest has anything to do with mining or Maoists’ pressure. “We have already got a written assurance from the administration regarding the mining projects following our earlier protests. No Naxalite threats have been given in this tehsil. The administration should stop deflecting attention from the seriousness of the current situation,” says Vairagade. “The problem is with the police, who are unable to combat the Naxalite menace, and victimise innocent villagers instead,” he adds.
Meanwhile, a sub divisional officer-level probe has been ordered into the resignation incidents by collector Abhishek Krishna.
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