International India has demanded that the Chhattisgarh
police must conduct a probe into the allegations by over 80 Adivasi villagers in Raigarh district that they had been unlawfully dispossessed of their lands for industrial use.
On June 14, 81 villagers approached the Raigarh's special police station for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes welfare and demanded the filing of First Information Report (FIR) against the agents of TRN Energy
and Mahavir Energy Coal Beneficiation
for allegedly taking away their land. Both the companies could not be contacted for their version.
Even the gram sabhas
in the affected villages have passed a resolution stating that their land had been purchased through fraud and coercion. The villagers said that the middlemen were involved in the deal who forced villagers to sell their land with manipulative tricks.
"Adivasi villagers have a constitutional right to access to justice and the police cannot ignore their duty to investigate the allegations and prosecute those suspected of responsibility for human rights abuses," said Amnesty
International India Programme Manager (business and human rights), Karthik Navayan. Given the scale of the alleged abuses, the police must investigate whether the allegations provide evidence of a pattern regarding illegal dispossession of land.
Navayan said the villagers had alleged that they had been forced into selling their land through threats, intimidation, coercion and misinformation to the agents of the companies operating in collusion with the local land registration officials. The villagers said even registration of land was executed on Sunday (holiday).
The police had accepted the complaint but refused to lodge FIR before conducting the preliminary inquiry. The activists said if the inquiry had to be conducted within 15 days and if the authorities failed, they would move to the court of law.