Since the killing of 17
Adivasis on June 28th in Rajpenta, Kottaguda and
Sarkeguda many revealing facts have come to public knowledge. The
news contradicting the versions of CRPF, State government and Home
Ministry, Union Government has come from journalists, social
activists, villagers and even the team of State Congress Party and
Union Minister Mr. K C Deo. Home Minister, Mr. P Chidamabram on his
part at least had the gumption to say that, “If a young boy or girl
or a woman, who was not involved with the CPI-Maoists, has been
killed, I'm deeply sorry,". This doesn't absolve him since CRPF
falls directly under the Home Ministry and indeed innocents have
been killed. What does he propose to do now?
Mr. Raman Singh, the CM of Chattisgarh has constantly failed
to protect the adivasis of the regions and has continued to protect the security
forces, encounters, forced detention, imprisonments, attack on social activists
and many other terror tactics of the security forces, Salwa Judum and the crimes
of corporations like Jindals, Tata and Essar, who have helped the government in
order to protect their investment and continued to displace adivasis and attack
activists, latest being firing on Ramesh Agarwal in Raigarh. He must resign
rather than continuing to preside over the genocide of adivasis.
A Magisterial enquiry headed by Mr. Kuruvanshi, the
SDM instituted by the Chattisgarh Government is nothing but a sham as
shown in his interaction with a three member J P Rao, Kopa Kunjam and
Nandini Sundar fact finding team, which went and met the villagers and
officials. The SDM has no plans to visit the village, and if the
villagers wished, they could come and see him in his office on July 9.
This shows the seriousness of the enquiry commission.
The fact finding team reported that the three
villages merge into each other and have been carved up in an arbitrary
fashion between different panchayats (Korsaguda and Chipurbhatti
panchayats). The field where the firing took place is an open area
surrounded by houses, some of which are in Kottaguda and some of which
fall in Rajpenta. The villagers had returned only in 2009 after Salwa
Judum had burnt their village in 2005, and are still struggling to put
their cattle together and rebuild all houses properly. The meeting on
the 28th night was held to discuss how to help those without
cattle and single women headed households, and also to plan the holding
of the bija pondum (seed sowing festival). The three villages
share a common earth shrine – which means they celebrate all their
The villagers told the fact finding team that there
were no Maoists present, and that the police were most likely injured in
cross-firing. The absence of any Maoist leaders is supported by the fact
that had there been a squad in the village, there would have been
sentries posted in the direction of Basaguda thana (Police Station).
CRPF on its part even when they knew they were in the middle of a
village, yet did not use night flares or observe even the most basic
precautions when firing. In all 17 persons have been killed, of which 7
are minors; 9 have been injured, and at least 5 women have been beaten /
assaulted. One cow has died and one bull has been injured, and there are
bullet marks on the houses.
The words of condemnation are not enough for such
cold blooded murder by state of its own citizens in the most brazen way.
It is high time that Governor of Chattisgarh stepped in and fulfilled
his constitutional obligations and protect the lives and rights of
Adivasis and the State. We also feel that Supreme Court must take suo
moto action based on the facts available in public domain and summon
state and central governments.
It also needs to be noted that the no amount of
pumping in money in 'Left Wing Extremism' affected districts will build
the confidence of the adivasis and others in those regions. However,
punishing the guilty security officials and agencies involved in fake
encounters, illegal detention, arrests, rape, torture will surely build
confidence and lead to peace.
The recent killings has surely dented the faith of adivasis who were
returning to their villages after attacks of Salwa Judum in 2005, which
led to cleansing of nearly 600 villages.
We demand that the
guilty officials be tried in the court of law, and the policy of
awarding forces and pumping money in name of development be scrapped,
because that is fuelling a series of fake encounters and illegal arrests
of human rights activists (Seema Azad, Binayak Sen, Arun Ferreira, Kopa
Kunjam, Soni Sori & ors.), adivasis and those from other marginal
sections of the society. In a civilized society and the world's biggest
democracy we can't let this continue!
the signatories in the release issued by National Alliance of People's
Movements (NAPM) were, Medha Patkar, Prashant Bhushan, Prafulla
Samantara, Sandeep Pandey, Dr. Sunilam, P Chennaiah, Suniti S R,
Gabriele Districh, Sister Celia, Ramakrishnan Raju, Anand Mazgaonkar,
Suhas Kolhekar, Vimal Bhai, Rajendra Ravi, Mukta Srivastava, Madhuresh