Thursday, April 18, 2024

UAPA accused tribal activist Hidme Markam walks out of jail

Tribal activist Hidme Markam walked out of jail on Thursday evening after spending nearly two years in jail under terror charges, The Wire reported.

The Police had registered five First Information Reports (7/2016, 9/2016, 7/2017, 17/2019 and 3/2020) against Markam. Out of five cases, Markam secured acquitted in four and bail in the remaining one.

The police, who investigated four cases, failed to prove the charges against her. According to reports, four cases were handled by the state police, one was investigated by the National Investigation Agency.

Markam is an Adivasi woman human rights defender advocating for indigenous rights. She is the convenor of the Jail Bandi Rihai Committee, a platform which advocates for the release of thousands of Adivasi persons criminalized and branded as Naxals.

Markam is part of the Gond tribe and Burgum, her village is in Chhattisgarh’s conflict-ridden Dantewada district. She is also an anti-mining campaigner.

Police arrested her on 09 March 2021, while attending an event organised in response to the alleged police violence that had led to a death of an 18-year-old woman, Pande Kawasi, in custody.

Kawasi’s death was later shown to be a case of suicide.

At the time of the arrest, police accused Markam of being a Maoist and put a bounty of Rs. 100,000 on her.

In April 2021, seven UN human rights rapporteurs sent a letter to the Indian government, asking for more information about Markam’s arrest and expressing concerns about the use of anti-terrorism charges against her and state efforts to protect Adivasi women human rights defenders.

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