[Marxism] Burnt in oil: A fact-finding report on State operations in Dantewada [India] in September-October 2009
epoliticus at gmail.com
Wed Oct 21 16:52:09 MDT 2009
October 21, 2009
A report from PUCL (Chhattisgarh) , PUDR (Delhi), Vanvasi Chetna
Ashram (Dantewada), Human Rights Law Network (Chhattisgarh) ,
ActionAid (Orissa), Manna Adhikar (Malkangiri) and Zilla Adivasi Ekta
Till now, no substantive information has been given in the media
regarding the Gachanpalli killings of 17th September 2009 (during
Operation Green Hunt) and 1st October killings at Gompad and
Chintagufa villages by security forces. Nor have any reports appeared
regarding detentions and arrests of several young men on 1st October.
Information regarding looting, burning and torture which accompanied
these operations have also remained unknown. Also, that people have
fled their villages, are living in make shift sheds in the forest has
gone unnoticed. The fact that on both these days, security forces
(Cobra, local police and SPOs and Salwa Judum leaders such as Boddu
Raja) went on a rampage stabbing and killing people, looting, burning
houses and forcibly picking up young men is the other side of
Operation Green Hunt which has been carefully kept away from public
scrutiny. In order to ascertain these facts, a 15 member fact-finding
team visited Dantewada area between 10th and 12th October 2009. The
team comprised members from PUCL (Chhattisgarh) , PUDR (Delhi),
Vanvasi Chetna Ashram (Dantewada), Human Rights Law Network
(Chhattisgarh) , ActionAid (Orissa), Manna Adhikar (Malkangiri) and
Zilla Adivasi Ekta Sangh (Malkangiri).
The team was initially denied permission and was repeatedly questioned
and interrogated at Dornapal and Errabore police camps on the way. The
team spent a night in Nendra village (a rehabilitated village) and met
witnesses and victims from several villages and gathered testimonies
from them. Subsequently, the team spoke to District Collector and
Superintendent of Police, Dantewada. While a detailed report is in the
making, some of the important and significant issues are given below.
17th September 2009
1. Gachanpalli murders: In the early hours of 17th September, 6
villagers were murdered by security forces in this village. Dudhi Muye
(70 yrs) who could hardly walk was murdered after her breasts were cut
off. Family members who had fled the scene on seeing the security
forces, found her lying dead in a pool of blood. Similarly, Kawasi
Ganga (70 yrs) who could barely see was stabbed and murdered in his
bed. He too was found by his family members who had fled from the
house and had taken shelter in the forest. Madvi Deva (25 yrs) was
tied to a tree and shot at three times and then beheaded. His
grandfather who was accompanying him back to the village was a witness
to this. The family hasn’t found his body. Three other villagers,
Madvi Joga (60 yrs), Madvi Hadma (35 yrs) and Madkam Sulla were
stabbed and murdered. The last two were killed in front of one
witness, the wife of Madkam Sulla. Madvi Joga was killed after being
stripped naked while ploughing his little plot of land. All the houses
were ransacked, broken and burnt down. Family members are either
living in sheds in the forests or have taken shelter with relatives.
Many others have also taken similar shelter as their houses were burnt
down by the security forces.
2. The case of Madvi Deva: This young man was a resident of
Singanpalli village and had gone out in the morning of 17th for some
family work. When he did not return his family searched for him. Two
days later, a Patel from another village informed the family that he
had been shot and killed by the security forces and his body was
buried in the compound of Chintagufa PS. The Patel was asked to
supervise the burial in the PS.
3. Burnt in hot oil: Muchaki Deva (60 yrs) of Onderpara was grazing
cattle on the morning of 17th September. He was caught, beaten and
dragged into the village by security forces. He was hanged upside down
from a tree and a pot of hot oil was lit below and he was dropped into
it. He was then pulled out and poured over with water. As a result,
the upper part of his body is severely burnt and he has developed
maggots in his wounds. He is still gravely ill and has no access to
medical aid. Needless to say, he is afraid to leave his village.
4. Tied and paraded: 6 villagers, including 3 women were tied and
paraded through Gachanpalli and other villages where the security
forces went. Fortunately, they escaped as timely rains made it
possible for them to flee.
5. Forced displacement and terror: families of those who were murdered
by security forces and those whose houses have been burnt down
vengefully, have fled the village and are living in make shift sheds
in the forest. The condition of the others is no better as the entire
village has been terrorized by security forces.
1st October 2009
1. Gompad “encounter”: SP Dantewada described the operations in Gompad
village on 1st October as an `encounter’. An encounter with a
difference: while 9 villagers were killed by security forces in the
village and their bodies were left there, no casualties were inflicted
on security forces. This too the SP confirmed. 4 members of one
family, Madvi Bajar, his wife, Madvi Subbi, their married daughter,
Kartam Kanni and their young daughter, Madvi Mutti were stabbed and
killed inside house. So too were two other villagers from
Bhandarpadar, Muchaki Handa and Madkam Deva, who were staying the
night over at Madvi Bajar’s house on their way home from Andhra
Pradesh where they had been working. Another couple, Soyam Subba and
Soyam Jogi were stabbed and killed inside their house. Yet another
villager, Madvi Enka was stabbed inside the house and then dragged all
over the village. Before leaving the village, the security forces shot
him and left his body. All 9 deaths, like the ones on 17th September,
were preceded by stabbing and the bodies were left in the village.
When the team asked the SP about recovery of bodies from the encounter
site, the SP stated that Naxalites had “taken them away”.
2. More killings: In Chintagufa, a 45yr old man, Tomra Mutta was
stabbed and shot inside his house. On seeing the sudden arrival of the
security forces, Tomra Mutta ran to protect his family. He was shot in
the process. The team confirmed 10 murders that had taken place that
day but there is apprehension that the total number of killings may be
much higher as many villages could not be contacted or accessed. The
SP confirmed that two sets of raid parties set off that day comprising
of Cobras and local police. Hence, the details with the team do not
give the entire and exact picture of how many villages were attacked
3. Travails of a 2yr old: Madvi Bajar’s grandson was not spared. He is
all of two and yet the security forces beat him, cut four of his
fingers, broke his teeth and cut off part of his tongue.
4. 8 arrested and 2 missing: Ten young men between 18-32 years were
beaten and picked up by security forces from Mukudtong and Jinitong
villages on 1st October. Eight have been shown as arrested in a case
that was registered on 3/10 at Konta PS under various sections of IPC,
Arms Act and Explosives Act. They are currently lodged in Dantewada
jail. However, two still remain missing. Female relatives who went in
search of those missing at the Konta PS were harassed, made to affix
their thumb impression on blank documents and driven away. When they
returned two days later, they were abused, told not to return and
informed that the men had been taken to an unknown place.
5. Looting and Burning of property and houses: As many as 9 instances
of looting and burning by security forces were reported to the team.
Unlike the 17th September killings which were followed by arson and
burning of the houses of those murdered, security forces on 1st
October looted homes. They took away paddy, pusles, brass pots and
poultry from many homes. Money, ranging from 300/- to 10,000/- was
stolen from these houses. Destruction of property, particularly
burning down of houses was carried out in as many as seven instances.
6. Harassment and torture: Witnesses reported several instances of
harassment at the hands of the security forces. In Gompad, one
villager was caught and interrogated and then shot at in his leg. He
managed to run away but still has the bullet injury and has had no
medical treatment. In Chintagufa, security forces tied another man and
made him walk to Injaram PS. They severely beat him and also attacked
him on his toe with a knife. He was finally let off in the evening.
7. Presence of SPOs and Salwa Judum leader with security forces:
Residents of Mukudtong village confirmed that the `raid’ party was
accompanied by known Salwa Judum leader, Boddu Raja of Injaram camp
and they recognised SPOs Pande Soma of Phandeguda village and Ganga of
Asarguda village. Residents of Gompad village were able to recognize
SPO Madvi Buchcha who belongs to their own village.
8. Forced displacement and terror: Several families are living in
makeshift sheds in the forest area as their houses have been burnt
down. Those who are unable to run and flee are living in terror in the
villages and residents and relatives have helped them to repair their
houses and have given them other support.
While the team could only meet residents of some of the villages,
there is apprehension that a much larger number of people were killed
on both days in other villages. The same is true for instances of
torture, loot and detentions. The clamp down on information makes it
impossible to know what exactly is happening in distant and far flung
villages. However, what is clear is that the operations conducted by
security forces have compelled villagers to leave their villages, flee
into the forests and/or take shelter with relatives in other villages.
The condition of those who are residing in their villages is
precarious and vulnerable. Given that the government has not complied
with the Supreme Court order on rehabilitation of displaced families
(families which were displaced in the earlier phase of Salwa Judum
violence), the new and current phase of violence by security forces
has added to the crisis in these remote and inaccessible villages.
Instead of rehabilitating people, the government, in the name of
combating Maoism, is bent upon unleashing its lethal paramilitary
forces and evicting people from their villages. It is imperative to
immediately end to this policy of eviction and terror and enable
people to settle in their villages.
1. That the government must accept responsibility for murders
committed on 17th September and 1st October by security forces and
file FIRs against those responsible. Further, the government must
acknowledge all instances of torture, illegal detention and
destruction of property. FIRs must be lodged in each case and
compensation given in each instance.
2. That an impartial inquiry (comprising civil society representatives
and representatives of organizations working in the area) be conducted
into the incidents of murder and acts of arson, loot and torture on
17th September and 1st October by security forces. The focus should be
to bring out the truth behind these killings an also investigate the
extent of the operations carried out on both days.
3. That the government must immediately take steps and show its
conviction in the Supreme Court order on rehabilitation of villages
and implement it immediately. The above described incidents of 17th
September and 1st October have created fear and panic and compelled
villagers to flee. Unless the government implements the SC order,
villagers will not be able to live in their villages.
4. That along with the implementation of the above mentioned order,
there be an immediate end to cordon and search operation carried out
by security forces in these areas. Lack of rehabilitation coupled with
an ever increasing size of the paramilitary forces in such backward
areas with low population density raises fears of repeated incidents,
such as the ones described above.
On behalf of fact-finding team
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