Why is Adivasi activist Hidme Markam in prison?
Hidme Markam has been a well-known name for the past few years among the tribals of Chhattisgarh and the top officials involved in the government. 28-year-old Hidme hails from Chhattisgarh’s Naxal-affected village Burgum (South Bastar Dantewada). She was working as a helper in the village school and the villagers were opposing the construction of CRPF camps on tribal land in the surrounding areas. The matter was in 2019 when the government leased the Nand Raj hill in the mountain range of Bailadila under NMDC to Adani Private Limited Company for mining through fake Gram Sabha. Nanda Raj Pahari is a holy shrine for the tribals and this mountain maintains the ecosystem of the environment in that area. Thousands of nearby villagers had gathered to protest against this decision of the government in protest against giving it for mining. Hidme also was a name among the thousands of people involved in this performance, since then she has remained in the headlines continuously till date.
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Arrest of an activist Hidme Markam
The way Hidme Markam puts the problems of tribals in front of the government and media, in the same way, she is also associated with Mahila Adhikar Manch of Chhattisgarh where she talks about the problems of tribal women. The police talk about violence against these women in many big forums. In this connection, a meeting was organized in Sameli village of Dantewada on March 9, 2021, the second day of International Women’s Day. The gathering was organized in the memory of Kawasi Pandey and Kawasi Nande, two young girls who were allegedly forced to return home through loan wartu, who were victims of sexual violence and physical violence in police custody, which led to their alleged suicide deaths. From this meeting, the police dragged Hidme with them in front of about 300 villagers without taking out a warrant.
The activists present there tried hard to free Hidme, protesting this arrest, despite all this was produced in the court and sent to judicial custody for 19 days. Since then she has been lodged in Jagdalpur Jail. Bastar SP Abhishek Pallav said that Hid is a hardcore Naxalite whose name various crimes are registered in the police department.
However, the local people say that the crime against whom the crime is registered in the police records is Kawasi Hidke, a male, and the government has declared a reward of lakhs on him. Generally, the names of women and men in the Bastar region are almost the same, they are identified by their surname and village. Hidme has become grit in the eyes of the government, she leads every major movement of tribals, participates in protests peacefully, meets and questions top officials of the government. This is the reason why the government had ordered their arrest on the basis of false allegations in a fake manner.
Concerned citizens gave a call to the immediate release of Hidme Markam
Now the question is that if Hidme Markam has many crimes registered since the year 2016, then on what basis was she appointed as the chairperson of the release committee, and how did she keep getting uninterrupted from the top officials and public representatives of the government, after all, why was she not arrested in the last five years? 40 days after the arrest of Hidme Markam, many human rights, academicians and intellectuals from India and abroad wrote letters to Bhupesh Sarkar, appealing for her release. Along with this, she also appealed to quash all the charges including UAPA against her. On the recent arrest of Hidme Markam, UN Rights Reporters wrote a letter to the Center criticizing the government and demanding her early release. More than 100 days have passed since Hidme Markam was in jail.
Is it a crime to criticize the government to speak against the government in a democratic country? Why does the government take the constitutional rights of a person? In this way, activists who talk about education, rights of tribals, environment etc. have been kept in prisons for years by imposing Public Safety Act.
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