A protest demonstration was organised by individuals, movements and organizations on 22nd February 2016 in front of the Chhattisgarh Bhavan, in New Delhi. The protest was in response to the attack on the Adivasi activist Soni Sori. On Saturday evening while returning to her home in Geedam town, Soni Sori was attacked by two people who forcibly threw a dark greasy substance which burnt her face.
The attack on Soni Sori comes a week before Prime Minster Narendra Modi is due to visit Chhaattisgarh to inaugurate the Rurban mission which is aimed at improving basic infrastructure at Dongagarh. Voices from the ground and especially from the Adivasis have been saying that the idea is not to bring schools and hospitals to the region. It shows that the road construction activities dotted with security force camps is all being done in the name of development. However, a look at the kind of violence and police brutality being unleashed on the people of the area shows that the attacks are an attempt to evict the adivasis from their land and sell off the land to big corporates. Those who are providing legal help to the victims are also being evicted from the area most recent being the eviction of a freelance journalist, lawyers and researches.
The attack comes in the wake of the cancellation of tribal forest rights by the Chhattisgarh government after only ten years of the FRA being in effect in Surguja. In an order issued on January 8, 2016, the state forest department stated that village residents were using their rights to oppose mining in coal blocks outside the forest compartments allotted to them.
Soni Sori who is from Bastar has been fighting for the cause of Adivasis and other oppressed masses for a long time. She had earlier been arrested in 2011 on charges of acting as conduit for Maoists and was brutally tortured and sexually assaulted under arrest. Soni Sori continued to fight after she was released from jail.
Lok Raj Sangathan salutes the fighting spirit of Soni Sori and stands with the people of the region in their just fight to reclaim their centuries old land and homes from which they have forcibly evicted.