Guest Post by CONCERNED STUDENTS OF TATA INSTITUTE OF SOCIAL SCIENCES, MUMBAI
We, the concerned students of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai condemn the continuing state repression of adivasis and recent attack on human rights activist Bela Bhatia in Bastar, Chhattisgarh.
On the 23rd of January, 2017, a group of 30-odd men attacked Bela where they barged into her house in Parpa, near Jagdalpur violently and threatened to burn the building down if she did not leave immediately. The mob also attacked her landlords and their children, threatening them with dire consequences if Bela was not evicted immediately. Despite Bela’s assurances that she would leave, the mob continued to be belligerent, in the presence of the police, and the Sarpanch. The mob has been identified with the right-wing vigilante group Action Group for National Integrity (AGNI). Continue reading In Solidarity with Adivasis in Bastar, Human Rights Defenders and Bela Bhatia in Bastar: Concerned Students in TISS, Mumbai→
I just finished a long essay for the cover of the May 2011 issue of Caravan magazine. In “At the Bloody Crossroads”, I plot the fate of the village of Tarmetla in the course of a year of ‘counterinsurgency”.
At 5:55 AM ON 6 APRIL 2010, Golf Company of the 62nd battalion of India’s Central Reserve Police Force [CRPF] radioed field headquarters at Chintalnar to report they were receiving small-arms fire in the “Tarmetla sector” and had sustained one injury. Golf Company was conducting a three-day area-domination exercise in the forests of Dantewada…
Operation Khanjar (“Dagger” in Hindi) was Golf’s last manoeuvre before the company was rotated out of Chintalnar to a less sensitive post. They were accompanied by their replacements from Alpha Company, who had just arrived from battalion headquarters in Barsur. The objective was to make their presence known in the district’s scattered hamlets: they were to spend three days sanitising the sector of guerrilla presence and acquainting the men of Alpha Company with the rolling hills and dry riverbeds that surround the CRPF camp at Chintalnar….
At 7:45 am, Golf Company’s deputy commandant, Satyawan Yadav, made a phone call from the vortex of the ambush to say that his company had been completely surrounded—and then the phone went silent.
Last week, the Chhattisgarh police were caught in an extraordinary encounter in the forests of Dantewada. The encounter was interesting not just in the event itself, but also in the Police’s attempts to shape media perception during and long after the encounter.
On Kafila, we devote a considerable amount of our time trying to decode how the press covers particular events. Perhaps this post shall go some way in explaining why our morning papers look the way they do.
If the police are to believed, on August 4 this year, the Koya commandos were caught in a Maoist ambush, yet through brilliant rear-guard action emerged completely unscathed, along with the body of a “Maoist fighter”, a 12 bore shotgun and two IEDs to boot.
The “ambush” caught a lot of us in the press unawares: something had happened in the forest – but what? A series of strategic leaks had primed the media to expect “major losses” among the security forces – so when the police emerged from the jungle unscathed, everyone was expected to heave a collective sigh of relief.
However, for once, the Chhattisgarh based press was skeptical.
On May 16 this year, adivasis, attending the weekly Sunday bazaar at Unchapur in Chhattisgarh’s Rajnandgaon district, found six corpses stretched out on the main thoroughfare of the village. In a note placed on one of the bodies, the CPI (Maoist) took responsibility for executing the six villagers for succumbing to “the lure of money” and serving as “police informers”.
The Rajnandgaon killings are a manifestation of the escalation of the confrontation between Maoist cadres and security forces in Chhattisgarh. As the scope of the conflict has widened from purely armed engagement to the disruption of intelligence networks, the Maoists and security forces have both enlisted civilian support for intelligence gathering. This has made the adivasis targets in a war being fought in their name.
Guest post by SHANKAR GOPALAKRISHNAN. This piece also appeared in Radical Notes earlier.
As central India’s forest belts are swept into an ever-intensifying state offensive and resulting civil war, there has been a strong convergence of left, liberal and progressive arguments on Operation Green Hunt. This note argues that this ‘basic line’ is problematic. The line can be summarised as: The conflict is rooted in resource grabbing by corporate capital, in the form of large projects, SEZs, mining, etc. Such resource grabbing leads people to take up arms to defend themselves, resulting in the ongoing conflict. The conflict thus consists of a state drive to grab people’s homes and resources, with people resisting by taking to arms as self-defence.
Supporters of the Maoists’ positions now often conflate these points with the more orthodox positions on the necessity for “protracted people’s war” in a ‘semi-feudal semi-colonial’ state. Liberals in turn tend to deny these orthodox positions and instead advocate the resource grab – displacement – corporate attack issue as the “real” explanation. Both, however, accept this as the predominant dynamic at the heart of the current conflict. But at the heart of this line lies an unstated question: why are forest areas the main battleground in this war? While the conflict is not coterminous with the forests – most of India’s forest areas are not part of this war, and the conflict extends outside the forest areas in some regions – forests are both politically and
Two sisters live in a clearing in the forest about 10 km beyond the abandoned houses and empty yards of Mukram village in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district. A third young girl cowers in the courtyard of her aunt’s house in neighbouring Tokanpalli. Between 14 and 18 years of age, Kose, Rame and Hidme (names changed) say they fled their homes in Mukram after they were sexually assaulted by Special Police Officers of the Chhattisgarh Police on May 22 this year.
“We can’t return to Mukram,” said Rame, “If they [the SPOs] find us again, they said they would cut my body into pieces and bury it in cement and no one would ever find it.”
Mukram: Rumours swirling around Mukram suggest that this adivasi village in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district may soon be abandoned. “There is talk of going to Orissa or Andhra [Pradesh],” said a prominent adivasi leader with familial ties to Mukram, “It could happen in as little as a week. Villagers say there is too much pressure from both, the Maoists and the Police.”
A mid-sized village of about 100 houses, Mukram shot to prominence as the site where an ill-fated company from the 62nd Battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) rested on the night of April 5 this year. At dawn on April 6, the company was ambushed by about 300 armed cadres of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), resulting in the death of 76 security force members.
In a statement released after the attacks, the CPI (Maoist) praised the efforts of Comrade Rukhmati, a Maoist commander and Mukram resident, who was killed in the ambush. On May 11, The Hindu reported the death of Kunjam Suklu, a Mukram resident who, his family members allege, was beaten to death by the CRPF in a fit of retaliatory rage.
School’s out! In Kerlapal, Dantewada, battle-weary soldiers of the B Company of the 2nd Battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force peer over barbed-wire fences as skinny schoolboys in sky-blue shirts play cricket. The force has occupied the senior school and with it the basketball court and part of the playing field; but the game must go on.
As paramilitary troops pour into Chhattisgarh to fight the Maoists, the absence of military barracks has forced soldiers and children to share the only concrete structures in the countryside — the village school.
Gachanpalli: Stories of the “Operation” reverberate along the path from the Andhra Pradesh border to Gachanpalli, a village deep in forests of Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district. Villagers along the 35 kilometre stretch of broken track, bombed-out schools, and graves, still speak of the day when security forces swept through their fields and killed 12 men.
Testimonies collected from the villages of Gachanpalli, Gattapad and Palachalam in the Konta block in Dantewada claim that at least 12 of the 30 people killed during a security operation in September 2009 were innocent villagers with no links to the Maoists. If true, the allegations point to a concerted attempt at dissimulation on the part of Chhattisgarh’s security forces.
I have been following the Gompad case for the past month and a half, and have been surprised at every turn. The issue is centred on the deaths of 12 villagers on October 1 2009 in Chhattisgarh. The matter is currently sub judice – so I would prefer not to comment on what I think happened, but this is my most comprehensive piece on the issue till date.
GOMPAD: A charred wooden stake and three graves are all that remain of the Madavi family in this remote village in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district.
“Madavi Kanni was lying face down in front of the burnt house,” said an eyewitness. “She had been slashed with a sword and shot in the chest.” The bodies of her father, Madavi Bajar, her mother Madavi Subbhi and her 12-year-old sister Madavi Mutti, were found under a tree, 50 metres away.
Testimonies collected by The Hindu from Gompad allege that a composite force of Adivasi special police officers and security force regulars appeared on the outskirts of the village in the early hours of October 1, 2009. “We ran away when we saw the force,” said the witness, speaking on condition of anonymity. “We found the bodies when we returned.” Continue reading “Police killed them” say the villagers→
Konta: The mystery surrounding the killing of nine Adivasis in Gompad village in Dantewada district in October last year is deepening, with the Chhattisgarh police detaining three more witnesses to the incident and restricting all access to the area on the pretext of Operation Green Hunt.
Operation Green Hunt is a catch-all phrase, used by the police and media alike, for all major anti-naxal offensives since July 2009.
As previously reported by The Hindu, the Chhattisgarh police have assumed total control over the movements of Sodi Sambho – one of several witnesses in a Supreme Court petition that alleges that the 9 civilians were killed by the security forces.
On Friday, armed policemen and Special Police Officers (SPO) lined the length of the highway from Dantewada town to Konta, the block headquarters closest to Gompad, stopping vehicles and questioning commuters. Travelling with local journalists Anil Mishra of Nayi Duniya and Yashwant Yadav of Navbharat, this correspondent was repeatedly detained along the route and told that Gompad village was out of bounds as a major anti-naxal operation was underway. Non-journalists were, however, let through.