Tag Archives: Tarmetla

The afterlife of a massacre

Aman Sethi/ The Hindu

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.

Read the full story on Caravan’s website. I will be happy to answer questions/comments on Kafila

Women become targets; SPOs issue gag orders

Ever since Mukram hit the news, there has been a sure and steady attempt to cut-off access to the areas surrounding the Chintalnar Camp.

In the meantime, sources who helped me and a reporter from Tehelka access the villages are worried about their safety. SPOs in Chintalnar have reportedly threatened to “take action” against villagers who help the press.

The following is a recent article for The Hindu that has provoked some of the backlash against the press.

A series of shots rang out in the night far beyond the barricaded perimeter of the Central Reserve Police Force camp here in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district. For a few minutes, the sentries on duty returned fire before their guns, and the ones that sounded in the distance, fell silent.

By morning, the adivasi settlements around the camp had emptied, the villagers wary of being caught and questioned by the CRPF’s morning patrol. “Everyone is hiding in the forests,” said a villager from Markaguda, a village about two km from the camp, “I expect we shall be beaten up this morning.”

Mukram slips into a vortex of violence

Aimla Rame holds up a picture of her husband Aimla Nanda who disappeared after a police raid in Mukram. Photo: Aman Sethi/ The Hindu

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.