Monday, April 13, 2009

Award,Debate and Chattisgarh's that report

Dear Friends,
Two years old report is for you this time. I have got Ramnath Goenka Excellence award of Hindi print for this report. Just read this report, I will disucss about all it's aspects in next post. This report had been published in magazine called Pratham Pravakta.

Innumerable Encounters: Doomed Tribals
It is a story of police brutality where incidents of tribal women being raped do not stir the psyche, also by blaming then of helping the Naxalites, they enjoy the opportunity of killing these poor folks randomly. The state government has accepted that the violence thrust upon this area as what police calls encounter has taken the lives of two thousand tribal people in one year. Fifty tribal people were killed only in Chhattisgarh last year by security forces. Twenty-one tribal women suffered the trauma of gang rape. Six among them were killed after rape. It was demonic as two of then was pregnant. On the one hand when the fake encounters in Cujarat are hitting the national headlines, the horrendous treatment the Chhattisgarh people are going through are tost without any footage and do not rouse us.

State governments are busy in sorting out specific developmental sectors; hut areas like Chhattisgarh have become hellish for its own inhabitants. The contrast between the lush dreams of development and the dingy state of common farmers is quite scary. The mad rush of industrialization over here has not only destroyed its ecology, but also divested the tribal life. Their agricultural land is ruined. They are migrated to big cities and are working as laborers for multistory buildings. It is a harsh truth that it all the projects start working, the farmers here will be destined to lose sixty percent of their fields, and will be left with no choice hut to work as labourers. The exploitation and suffering of these tribals fail to grab the attention of even the local newspapers. These poor people have no bread to eat but the gunshots.

If original inhabitants of our country, the tribals, do not have food to satiate their hunger; if tribal women are fated to sexual assault anytime at the hands of police administration and killed, or sometimes left alive by some casual mercy; if witnessing these horrible things builds a volcano inside some adolescents, though they are also destined to be shot dead; if no cases reach the threshold of our so called judicial temple, which assured justice to all; if no MR is registered in police stations, supposedly established to help everyone not the influential ones only one wonders if this is happening in India, the World's biggest democracy? Yes! Thousand kilometers away from Delhi, many areas of Chhattisgarh witnessed this horrifying truth. But in the state government's opinion this land is breeding terror and by making a mockery of parliamentary politics, is hindering the pace of development. People here target police administration with their bloody and subversive activities; they destroy government properties and steak about alternatives. It seems that they support the Naxal ideology; hence the state cannot tolerate it. But let us move ahead of the stale and Naxal theory and we have something hairy to observe. The way the government and the police administration attribute to these tribals, living here from generations, the tag of "naxalites" on account of internal security is quite and sordid,
Just one year back. Surgooja district police of Chhattisgarh arrested a tribal woman Ledha as supposed to be Seema. The police accused her as the main culprit behind March 2006 bomb blast in which three Central Security Force men lost their lives. Seema was pregnant when she was picked up by the cops in April 2006. Seema's husband Ramesh Nageshia had a link with Maoists. The court sentenced Seema for one end half year of imprisonment. Seema gave birth to a very weak baby in the jail. Later, court acquitted Seema on the basis of weak circumstances and facts. Now Seema as Ledha was free from the slur of being a Naxalite. But the police started pressuring Ledha It convince her husband to surrender. They allured her by promising job and money. Ledha persuaded her husband for the sake of their son to surrender so that they could enjoy a normal life. Ultimately Ramcsh got ready for it. It was decided that Ramcsh would come to surrender at the house of the secretary Civildah Gram Panchayat, on March 28, 2006.
The superintendent of police of Surgooja C.R.P. Kalauri reached Civildah with Ledha. Also, an additional force from kusumi came with him. As soon as the police reached there, they started threshing Ramesh who was waiting there. He was beaten so brutally that his body turned blue and then suddenly the Assistant Platoon Commander of the Armed Forces put the pistol on his temple and shot him. Ramesh died on the spot. Ledha was so shocked that she could not even scream out her grief. She was just shivering. Then she was brought to Shankargarh police station and was threatened not to tell anything about the incident otherwise she would face the some fate. Ledha kept quit. But after three months on Dushera the police again picked up Ledha with her old father and brought them to the police station, where she was stripped off in the presence of S.P. Kallauri and raped in front of her father. For the next ten days she was kept in the lock up and was repeatedly put to Sexual assaults by the cops. During this her old father was kept in another chamber. But her weak son. who was unable to speak, was with her and witnessed every suffering her mother went thorough. Despite all these Ledha did not die. She is still alive and has reached the Chhattigarh High Court with her case. On January 2007, Vilaspur High Court filed the case. In the first hearing the public prosecutor argued that Ledha was lying.
Ledha, her parents and the villagers are waiting for the second hearing with a hope in their heart that the court may decide in their favor, so that no police men could kill poor villagers in the name of naxalites or rape their women. They desperately wish a positive judgment because this is the first case which ultimately has reached the courtroom. There are many other tribal women who have faced even more monstrosities in the last year than Ledha. Though Ledha is alive, many other have lost their lives. There arc six cases which came into focus as they got registered in the police station. In which women were killed after being gangraped. Medium Sukki and Kursum Lakke of Peddakorma village, Vedinje Mulli and Vedinje Naggi of Mookavalli village. Boogam Somvari of Kotaloo and Midkaam Sunny of Etepad village were first raped and then murdered.

Mudkaam Sunny and Vedinje Naggi were pregnant. This is not enough, though. Incidents of women being gangraped arc not limited to one village, there are dozens of other villages abounding such stories. Madavi Budhari, Somali and Minni of kondurn village, kadati Munni and Kurasa Santo of Phoolgulta village, Boggam sampo and Modium Seemo of Karrcbodhali village, Oyam bali of pallcwala village, kadati jayamali and Tallam Jamali of karremurka village, Korasa Munni, Kalamu Jayyu and Korasa Butaki of Jangla village, Rookani, Madavi Kope and kadavi Paravati of Karre Pondum village arc the twenty three women who have been raped in different police stations. Two among them were pregnant. Both gave birth to stillborn babies. The saddest part is that Boggum Googe of Neelam village can never bear a child.

It is not merely the question of the tragic conditions of women or the safety concerns of girl-woman in the tribal surroundings; in fact these women are just pawns at the hands of tenduleaves contractors and serve as informers throughout the area. As these contractors make big money by selling the tenduleaves, they provide channel to inform the security personnel about the naxal operations. Information of there activities becomes an achievement for the security personnel of that area. It becomes a way of establishing their abilities and opens for then the doors of promotions. Hence tenduleaves contractors play a very important role here. Not only they provide six months employment to the tirbals, but also they aptly perform their part as police informers. In most cases when these contractors feel that the tribal labourers are asking for more money for collecting tenduleaves, they tell the police secretly that some of these tribal women arc connected with naxalitcs. Though it happens to be a complete fabrication, it culminates into a cruel reality of these poor souls being brutalised and slaughtered. After this, the contractor regains his autonomy over these down trodden people. Tenduleaves symbolize tribal exploitation and profiteering of contractor-increase as the undivided Madhya Pradesh government had decided to nationalise or to make cooperative enterprise for tenduleaves. Government official misappropriate lakhs of rupees in the district in lieu of bonus, which never reaches to the tribals. Apart from that these simple villagers suffer the pangs of low wages, too. In Maharashtra, a pack of seventy tenduleaves offer a wage of one rupee fifty paise, but in Chhattisgarh it is worth forty five paise merely.

In some villages the contractor gives even lesser amount, down to twenty five paise per pack. If any one dares to raise his or her voice, he or she gets entangled in a false link with the naxals fabricated by the contractor and thus states a horrendous series of murder, loot and rapes.
This is still happening, as we have witnessed that from July to October last year, more than fifty tribal people were killed by the security forces. Dozens of tribal women were raped, villages were put to flame. Cattle were slaughtered. It seemed to be a conspiracy of ripping off the whole area. At one end is the contractor who strategically throws tribal people towards the security force and at the other end is held by the government whose developmental rush is devouring the lands of tribal inhabitants hence they arc losing their natural assets.

Moreover, there are central security forces, at one level, encountering the naxals, and at the other end has state police. To grab their land the local police administration even went to the extreme of banning the daily tribal market.

From July to October 2006, this was the area where fifty four tribal people were shot by police - the maximum, thirty one, were killed in the month of September only. Sixteen among them had got their name registered in the Rojgaar Guarantee Yojna, their names are still there. Apart from this Kotarapal, Mankewal Munder, Alboor, Polttayam, Mazzimedari, Pullum and Chinnakorama are few villages where more then two hundred and fifty tribal people are missing. Names of 128 villagers among them are still enlisted in the different government welfare projects. The allotted money is reaching their home on paper, surprisingly duly signed by them. But where they really are, nobody knows. Cops holding gun stoically state that their duty is to maintain law and order not to search the lost ones.

But the way they maintain law and order is nothing but ironical.
July 21, houses of two farmers were burnt down in Pondum village; Pallewala village was looted and vandalized. Ten persons including three tribal women were arrested.
July 22, police cast a hellish spell on Munder village. Gallic were slaughtered or taken away by policemen; ten houses were put to flames. The villagers left this village and took shelter in the neighbouring village phoolgutta.

July 25, Phoolgutta became the target. Fifty tribals were taken to the police station.
July 29, they hit Karrebodhali village and people were thrashed down out there. Fifteen tribals were arrested. Mazzimendari village became prey to police men's savage whims in the first week of August. Pigsty and poultry farms were burnt off. About dozens villagers were taken to the police station and tortured for many days. In the same week many tribals of Karremarka village (including women) were arrested and misbehaved. August 11, police opened fire at Kotrapal village. Three farmers, including Atma Bodi and Rudhram were killed. Police ascertained them as naxalites and declared the reason of their death as encounter.

August 12, two farmers of katloor village were trapped at Kutaroo market. Later on their cases were also filed up as encounters.
August 15, houses of five farmers at Jangla village were razed down by lire by tenduleaf contractor a complaint was made against the contractor, but ironically, he was sheltered in the police station only. It means no FIR was done. What got registered there was a fake story that villagers of Jangla had a link with the naxalites.

In the last week of August, Dolul, Akwa, Jojer villages were hit. A farmer, Sukku of Ireel village, was brutally killed. His head was found hanging from a tree next day. The tribal people were so frightened that they did not go to their fields for many days. There was no FIR of this incident.
September 25, in Mankel village of Beejapur Tahseel dozens of tribal-farmers houses were put to tlamcs. Five tribal women and two children were picked up by the police. There is no information about them. In the last \\eek of September four dead bodies were found in the Indrawati River. The police had no answer as to who killed them and when their bodies were thrown into the River. According to the villagers these men were among those tribals who were taken by the police on the day of haat- bazar.

October 5, two women of Mukkavalli village. Vedinje Naggi and Vedinje malli were shot dead by the police. In the first week of October in Rajim village of Jegurgonda, live women were gangraped. A farmer, picked up with them, died after two days. But no case was registered. Amid these incidents, a case of children being shot by the police did get registered in three police stations but this was a matter directly linked with those police men who were posted to confront the naxals. hence the station officers took no time to close it.

September 2, 2006, 12 year old kadati Kummal of Adiyal village was shot dead by Nagga police.
October 3, 2006, 14 year old Raju was killed at l.owa by the Police.

October 5, 2006, even a one and half year old kid lost life to police men's gunshot.
October 10, 2006, 14 year old boy Barba Sonu was killed by police in Paraal village, there are innumerable incidents which did reach the police stations, but with no positive result.
The naked paradox of police administration can surface quite transparently if we go ahead to analyses it in the name of modernisation to improve the so called law and order during the last year. For example, seven hundred crore was allotted in the name of vehicles and weapons. Twelve hundred crore was set aside to construct a good stretches of roads in this area. To build strong walls at police station and to construct police guest houses the government has agreed to give one hundred and fifty crore. On the other hand to provide the minimum food grains to every tribal folk the government has aptly calculated the required amount as hundred crore, which can solve all the problems. But it is possible only if police administration, gram Panchayat, MLAs, MPs could spare this amount and let it flow in the need direction. However, the one thousand crore rupees sent here in the name of police, roads, buildings etc. can not be shown in the form of work done in this area, nothing even worth hundred crore has been done.
Besides the home state police, there are six other slate security forces stationed here. This area happens to be the third among the most sensitive areas after Kashmir and Nagaland. Therefore, the daily cost of this arrangement is far ahead than the yearly income of the tribals of this state. They are the country's poorest tribals. And what a paradox! Their area boasts of the costliest security arrangements. The every day expenditure is round about seven to nine crores.
It is simply not the matter of costly security arrangement and deprived and sordid state of tribals. The significant feature is that Chhatigarh is quite rich with natural resources. 90% of India's tin are is here, 16% coal, 19% iron ores, 50% diamonds of our country are found here. Total 28% precious minerals are present here. Moreover. 46, 600 cubic meter water reservoir is also here. Also, the state provides the cheapest human labour resource.

During the last five years (first congress and then BJP) under the initiative of the state government, six reports had been presented in which it was directly agreed upon that to resolve all the problems of the tribal life, the entire fundamental framework of their existence should be attached with mineral resources of the slate. But for the tribal folk natural resources and forest have got no meaning, because the basic design crated on account of development stands more for dollars than rupees. At the security arrangement front, it is observed that maximum police officials have their families living in other region. So they have got a habit of making money for the luxuries of their homes out there from here. Thus they do not connect with this land.

Therefore, if there is no social concern between one organization and another or between security personnel and local folks, and the state government depends more on outer capital-produce than on its own fund, then this land has nobody to took up to as its savior but just unconcerned people from different regions playing the role of salesmen or mediators and reaping their own profits. From central security forces to police stations, collector to MLAs, everybody is lustily devouring money which has been allotted for a different cause. Crore of rupees are consumed up in a blink of time but the poor hungry children of lesser gods not get even a bite of bread and stay in sorrowful conditions, as they are destined to.

This can easily be understood by looking at the profile of the projects of national or foreign companies. The state government has signed on a Memorandum of understanding to start a plant to produce one thousand megawatt electricity by American Company Texas Power Generation. This means that the state will get twenty lakh dollars. Another American company One Incorporate has finalised a deal to open a medicine factory worth fifty crore rupees. Chhattisgarh Electricity Board has made a deal with IFCO (Indian Farmers Cooperative Limited) to establish a plant worth five crores to establish a plant to produce one thousand megawatt electricity at Surgooja. In this deal the state has got 26% of the shares and the other 74% will go to IFCO. At this point of time when everybody is talking about the privatisation of electricity, plants like these may be sold to some multinational companies for ten thousand crores. Tata company is going to establish a steel plant in Bastar at the cost of seven thousand crore with the aid from the World Bank ESSAR Company has also agreed to fund a caustic power plant worth four thousand crores. Prakash Sponge Iron Limited is interested in coal mines. It has chosen a land at korba. Apart from this, there are dozens of multinational companies which arc interested in harnessing the hugely rich natural resources of this land and do not hesitate in spending fifty thousand crore rupees here. In this process five hundred crore have been manipulated at the stale of paper work by high officials.

How big deals are finalised for meager amount can easily be seen in the case of Bailadila. The iron which is taken out from Bailadila mines is sold to Japan at Rs 160/ ton (16 p/kilo). The same iron is sold to other companies for the industries in Mumbai at Rs 450/lon and to the industrialists of Chhattisgarh at Rs. 1600/ton. The presence of Nagamar Steel Plant, Tisco, ESSAR Pipeline project (to send iron-powder to Japan from Bailadila through water) will cast what kind of effect to the existing water resource of Bastar has already given us a premonition. Farmers do not have enough water to irrigate their land. Fields and crops are ruined. Farmers are committing suicide or leaving behind their natural habitat, they are forced to migrate to cities and work as daily labourers at the construction sites of skyscrapers, or as Chhattisgarh baking their labour very cheap in the brick-kilns and living a miserable life.

The hard reality of these aspects unfolds a horrible probability that if the government allows all the projects to work in this area, then 60% agricultural land will be lost out from the farmers. It means that without special economic zone, (SEZ) fifty thousand acres of land will go to the control of multinational companies. About the lakh tribal farmers will lose their fields and be depending on industries.
During this phase the central government has called in three meetings to analyse the status of this tribal populated area, most of the discussions are diverted to the internal security matter as this 'land' is naxal affected. The meetings have been attended by Chief Ministers of other naxalite states. Home Secretary, senior police officers, who discussed the matter with the officials of Home Ministry and the Prime Minister also. In all the three levels of the meetings the focal concern happened to provide the security force, posted there, with more modern weapons and mechanises. As all the naxal inflicted areas of nine slates lie below poverty line and are undeveloped, so the stress was on building a basic infrastructure. The Chief Minister of every state raised the question of development and mentioned about the difficulties the multinational companies were facing in commuting and sought help from the centre. In every level it is unanimously agreed that there will be no compromise at the point of development and establishing industries.
Obviously, there will be beautiful roads, lighted areas, so that companies carrying huge money to fund these areas can be lured to it.

There was not a single mention of Ledha like hundred tribal, women who were raped and killed brutally. At no level did anyone ask who was at a shooting spree in the tribal populated land. Why the earth is bleeding there. Nobody bothered to point out to listen to the voice of countless tribal folks. Who had been suffering atrocities and were killed every day. Everybody was busy in boasting off the number of naxilites he killed and how successfully he handled the situations. The Chhattisgarh government also mentioned these data so that they could recognise the bravery of their police officers. Right from the secretary level officers to the Home Minister, they could not pay heed to the fact why the produced data did not carry any names. They did not talk about the cases registered in police stations. They were least concerned to know whether the people killed in the name of naxalites were real culprits or the tribal folks.
Nobody took the pain of raising a question if it was some fabricated stories running around and the horrendous reality was lying underneath. They did not confirm whether the police administration in these states was killing innocent people in the name of fake encounters. It did not strike to them that if the police was confronting tribals in their forest village, then why the villages were killed only, though knowing the area quite properly, they would have fled away quite easily, because they must be quite capable of handling situations around their own locality. What do hundreds of fake encounter symbolise? In fact the government is not supposed to answer each and every question put before it. But if it defends itself by saying that it did not know about police created terror and tries to assert a clean face, then it is a dangerous symptom, which is not merely a matter of killing tribal people in fake encounters or strengthening the internal security on account of naxalite activities, but it is alarming for our democracy which is used as a disguise by the administration to create terror of another kind.