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Shalini Gera: Conflict in Bastar is bloodier than in Kashmir. Why is nobody talking about it?


In terms of body count, 2016 was the bloodiest year in Bastar since Operation Green Hunt ended in 2010. According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, at least 207 people died in Chhattisgarh last year. This year, with the state promising to end Naxalism through "Mission 2017", may be even worse.

Shalini Gera has seen this conflict unfold from up close. As she says, more people died in Bastar than in Kashmir last year but little attention is paid to this region of the country.

Having set up Jagdalpur Legal Aid - informally referred to as Jaglag - in 2013 to provide free legal help to the Adivasis facing state repression, Gera has been witness to horrific violence unleashed by both the Naxals and the government forces.

Gera herself came under attack last year, forcing her and other members of Jaglag to vacate their house. A week ago, she was also called for questioning on the basis of a complaint, filed by a person known to be close to the police, which accused her of laundering money for the Naxals.

The complaint against Gera comes after a false murder case was filed against the academic Nandini Sundar, and human rights activists such as Bela Bhatia, Soni Sori and CPI leader Manish Kunjam were threatened and harassed by goons working for the local police.

Gera visited the Catch office on 6 January and spoke at length about the raging conflict in Chhattisgarh, her personal struggles, and plans for the future.

Suhas Munshi @suhasmunshi

He hasn't been to journalism school, as evident by his refusal to end articles with 'ENDS' or 'EOM'. Principal correspondent at Catch, Suhas studied engineering and wrote code for a living before moving to writing mystery-shrouded-pall-of-gloom crime stories. On being accepted as an intern at Livemint in 2010, he etched PRESS onto his scooter. Some more bylines followed in Hindustan Times, Times of India and Mail Today.