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Left-wing fact-finding report indicts cops, Maoists for atrocities on tribals in Chhattisgarh's Naxal-infected region

By Our Representative
A recent fact-finding visit by a Left-wing delegation to the worst Naxalite-infected areas of Bastar division in Chhattisgarh has found that there has been large-scale arrest of villagers, with the law being allegedly used by the cops “as an instrument of torture rather than of justice or peace-keeping”.
Seeking a “high level judicial enquiry on all the encounters, arrests, surrenders, rapes and other atrocities by state-sponsored vigilantes, police, security forces and Naxalites since 2005”, the delegation has taken strong exception to a new form of the armed anti-Maoist organization Salwa Judum, banned by the Supreme Court, cropping up in the region.
Pointing out that the police are “holding Jan Jagran Abhiyans” in the same way as Salwa Judum used to do, the report said, they are “threatening and distributing all kind of goodies to the villages, including cell phones, if they inform on the Maoists.” It added, “This is very similar to the origins of Salwa Judum. In Kumakoleng village, 50 persons were forced to ‘surrender’ in March, and are now living in different police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camps.”
The delegation comprised of Sanjay Parate, Chhattisgarh state secretary CPI-M; Vineet Tiwari, Joshi-Adhikari Institute, CPI, New Delhi; Prof Archana Prasad, Jawaharlal Nehru University, associated with the All-India Democratic Women's Association, and Prof Nandini Sundar, Delhi University, visited Bastar Division from May 12 to 16, 2016.
The report said, “The most recent and worrying development we observed was the manner in which villagers in and around the Kanger national park - in Tongpal and Darbha blocks - are being arrested and made to surrender by police, and then threatened and brutally beaten by Maoists.”
Pointing towards how people are caught between atrocities of the police and the Maoists, the report said, “On April 15, the police/CRPF held a Jan Jagran Abhiyan in Kumakoleng. On April 17, the Maoists beat up villagers, including women, for asking for a CRPF camp to come up near their village. Two-thirds of the entire village of Kumakoleng has now fled and is living outside the village for fear of Maoists”.
Similarly, it noted, “In neighbouring Soutnar panchayat, the villagers resolved to keep the Maoists out and have been patrolling the villages with bows, arrows and axes for the last three months.” Yet, it added, “The villagers say the police have refused to set up camp, telling them that the Maoists will go away if they patrol, thus making them vulnerable.”
Claiming that the police “is not interested in any peaceful and honest approach to the problem” the report pointed towards a fake encounter, which took place at Marjum village, in which two innocent youth, Markam Manglu and Podiyam Vijja, were killed, but they were passed off as Maoists by the police. The CPI held a demonstration on May 19 in Dantewada to press for a fair enquiry into the incident and registration of an FIR.
The team also came “across a number of instances of arrests of ordinary villagers, some allegations of rape by police, and one confirmed instance of rape and sexual exploitation by an SPO/sahayakarakshak working in a Border Security Force (BSF) camp, resulting in pregnancy”, the report said, adding, “We also learnt of instances where Maoists had killed people, leading to severe disaffection among people.”
The report said that the whole district is “heavily militarized” with CRPF/BSF/Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) camps every 5 km, and in the villages around the Raoghat mines, every 2 km, saying, this is “in complete violation of the 5th Schedule, Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act and the Forest Rights Act 2006.”
It added, “No gram sabha permission is sought, camps come up at night, and people’s cultivation is taken over, without their rights being settled. There is massive destruction to the environment.”
Pointing out that the whole effort in the region is to build roads “with a view to intensive mining and industrialization, with no concern for people’s welfare or rights”, the report said, there is “almost no implementation" of the rural jobs guarantee scheme, NREGA, "despite this being a drought year.”
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