Appeal to Political Parties, Visit Bastar, Initiate a Dialogue, Restore Fundamental Rights

Published on: July 11, 2016
treated as Maoists by the police and feared arrest.  Under pressure from the Maoists for surrendering, the villagers asked for a CRPF camp. As mentioned before, they were also put off by the beating and killing of a villager Somaru in 2010 on charges of being an informant, when the villagers felt he was innocent. A couple of villagers also complained that they were beaten when they did not give food to the squads.

We sat in an empty mining office, which was built in 2008. There is tin and colombite in nearby hills but mining has not started. The villagers said that illegal tin mining, which used to be rampant among immigrant traders in this area stopped about ten years ago, because the rivers used for smelting dried up.

In the meeting with 50 odd villagers including women, we were asked by the villagers what they should do. Responding to their question, we told them that in your condition, you are the best judge, but we must say that we want your safety, peace and development. Beating and killing the villagers by Naxals is definitely wrong and it should be stopped immediately but having CRPF camps around the village is not a long-term solution either. Ideally, the best option for the villagers would be neither the Naxalites nor police/CAPF camps, but their own open resistance to any interference in their affairs. Whatever happens, the villagers must stay united.
In Koleng village, a year ago, the villagers said that Maoists had killed Janpad member Pandu Ram Nag and left a note with his body threatening others for being informers. They complained to the police, and his wife is now sarpanch. More recently, the police held a camp and distributed sarees, blankets, lungis, vessels, sports equipment like a bat and ball for the school. When their supplies ran out, the police gave Rs. 50 to individuals,

The police also distributed mobile phones. Villagers told us that the elders had decided they would be better off with a police camp.
 
To summarise, under the pressure of Maoist coercion and police arrests, the villagers are trying to make difficult choices about who to side with and which will be a safer option for them. These are contingent, unstable and unhappy choices to have to make. A peaceful, democratic solution needs to be found in the long-term interests of the welfare of the villagers.
Arrests

Across the four districts, villagers complained of people being arrested in large numbers. The villagers have no understanding of the legal system, are forced to pay high fees to lawyers, and their lives are ruined. The law is being used as an instrument of torture rather than of justice or peace keeping.

Indrawati National Park area
In January 2016, three people were arrested from Sagmeta panchayat for ‘Naxali offences’: Tuggewadde, Munna Vedenja and Chinna Vedenja.
In 2016, the police shot three boys who were bathing in a nearby stream, namely Sukhram from Dokke village, Sukku from Bade Alweda village and Soma of Gundapur village. The deceased were taken to Maharashtra by chopper and then sent to Bijapur. Later, villagers were called by the police in Bedre and handed over the bodies for last rites.

Many villagers from this area went to a Salwa Judum camp in 2005. Tadmendri was one of the first villages which the Judum attacked. We got to know that first Judum people came and asked the villagers the names of the people associated with the sangham and dalam. When villagers refused, they were beaten up by the Judum people. Some of them got severe wounds. Later, there was a cross firing between the Judum and dalam people. When Police camp started coming up in the area, dalam people burnt the school fearing the police force would make the school its shelter. Since then, there has been no school in the village for last 10 years. Children go to Pharsegarh village which is 9 kms away from the village. There was an all out attack on the Maoists at that time and many people were killed.

In Mukabelli, during the Judum, one villager had two wives and both