On 9th March 2021, Hidme Markam, a committed environmental activist from the Adivasi community, working in the Nandraj Pahad anti-mining movement was openly abducted by the Dantewada Police (and later shown as ‘arrested’) when she was attending a programme commemorating the International Women’s Day in Sameli, Bastar. Several women had gathered peacefully to remember and mourn the rapes and murders of Adivasi women at the hands of the State. But ironically, that day became witness to another incident of the State’s high-handedness. She has been in jail for over three weeks now.
The violence of ill-thought and arbitrary ‘development’ projects have haunted the Adivasi state of Chhattisgarh and Central-Eastern India for decades now. The wide-scale displacement and environmental devastation caused by these projects are not only unaccounted for, but they multiply every day. The local communities who have peacefully existed there for decades, not only depend on these forests and mountains for their sustenance, but they also sustain them, have been violently crushed to build mines and industries. But they continue to resist, and democratically fight for their rights.
Hidme Markam along with other Adivasis, organized as the Nandraj Pahad Bachao Andolan, has been resisting the mining of a sacred indigenous hill by corporations like Adani Pvt Ltd. She has also been organizing against the Bailadila Mine Deposit project that would result in grave ecological damage in the region, especially on the local forest, land, and water bodies. A member of the Chhattisgarh Mahila Adhikar Manch, Hidme has been present in numerous public spaces and meetings in Chhattisgarh, asserting the rights of Adivasi women, especially against displacement and state repression. Her arrest is just the latest in the chain of the State hounding Adivasi women activists who are fighting for constitutional and human rights.
As concerned citizens, we call upon you to endorse this letter written to the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, Shri Bhupesh Baghel, condemning the wrongful arrest of Hidme Markam and calling for her immediate release as well as justice to other adivasis in the region.
Far away from the warmth of our city homes, people continue to resist bravely, away from the glare of social media and attention of ‘mainstream media’. The least we can do is support their struggle for their rights and our collectives futures.
Please do sign this statement https://forms.gle/BxUFCPeoV97ke8vF8, and share it widely in your circles.