This is a guest post by Aritra Bhattacharya
Unidentified persons attacked tribal leader Soni Sori on February 21, hours after she bid farewell to Shalini Gera and Isha Khandelwal, lawyers at the Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group and journalist Malini Subramaniam, when they hurriedly packed their belongings and left Jagdalpur. Over the last few months, they had withstood all forms of harassment and hostility from police officials and pro-police ‘civil society’ organisations in war-torn Bastar. They had been heckled, threatened with dire consequences and targeted via a sustained vilification campaign calling for their ouster from the region on grounds that they were stalling Bastar’s ‘development’.
Beginning 8 February, the pressure intensified. Police first landed at Malini’s house and then JagLag’s residence; they intimidated their landlord and domestic help, kept them in jail for hours together over several days and threatened to implicate them in false cases. Within ten days, Malini and JagLag lawyers had to leave Jagdalpur due to relentless pressure and harassment from the police.