National Confederation of Human Rights Organization

National Confederation of Human Rights Organization

Mangalore

 

15th Milagris Mansion Mangalore-1, Ph: 9845396530

Mangalore,

July 29, 2010

 

Press Note

            As we are all aware, there has been an  unrelenting, across- the- country rise in the number of cases of police atrocities and custodial tortures. While members of the minority communities and Dalits are specially targeted,  even ordinary and poor citizens too are not spared. NCHRO is an all India organization founded in 2007 to fight human rights violations under the leadership of Justice Suresh Hosbet (Retired). NCHRO strongly condemns all these extremely serious human rights violations and demands that genuine police reforms as directed by the Supreme Court should be put in place immediately.

            Coming to our own Dakshina Kannada district, the local SP Squad and DCIB are found to have become specialized in blatant rights violations, for which a number of torture chambers have been set up in and around Mangalore. It sometimes takes place even inside police stations. Since 2007 we have been receiving innumerable complaints from the public against both SP squad and the DCIB police. A recent incident of custodial torture took place in the Mangalore Rural police station under the leadership of sub-inspector Prakash, most ably assisted by constables David, Sunil, Shaji Nair and one Iqbal.

            One Justine Vas, his son Joyal and their neighbour Gangadhar were tortured in a most uncivilized, crude and shameful manner on June 2, 2010. Starting at around 11:00 a.m., it went on for the entire night. During this period they were taken by the police to the Wenlock Hospital once in the night at 9:00 and again in the morning in order to destroy the earlier hospital documents wherein doctors had made a mention of police torture. The three men were in police custody for more than 24 hours i.e. from 10:00 a.m. on June 2, 2010 till 3:00 p.m. on June 3, 2010. They were again threatened by the police on July 7, 2010.

            It is necessary to mention here that this torture took place at the instance of one Fr. Charles Menezes. The latter who was Parish Priest in Neermarga had been transferred on May 31, 2010 after 4 years of service instead of the normal 7-year period.  This priest is said to have a grudge against the Vas family as it was they who had exposed his illegitimate affairs with women in Neermarga leading to his premature transfer. It is strongly believed that he paid Rs.50,000/- to S. I. Prakash through constable David, to torture Justine Vas and others. The degree of torture is said to be in direct proportion to the amount of reward.

            Again on June 28, 2010 Justine Vas was assaulted by Joseph D’Souza, Alwyn Nazareth and Jayson Menezes, supporters of Fr. Menezes. An FIR was lodged against them and Gangadher Shetty was an eye witness to this incident. In this case S.I. Prakash  threatened both Mr. Vas and Shetty of torture and filed a ‘B’ report saying that Justine had suffered his injuries due to skidding of the  motor bike he was riding and their complaint was false. S.I. Prakash is said to have created an eye witness by name Ismail to close this FIR.

            Earlier on 13-2-10 Mrs Helen had filed an fir No:3610 at the Rural station against on Prakash Pereira and Francis D’Souza who had not only threatened to break the limbs of the entire family and kill them, but even petted stones and damaged their house. This was also  “B” reported .

            It is unfortunate that we could clearly see the hand of advocate Dinkar Shetty in this episode who did not want to record the Police torture before the magistrate . Ironically this advocate was recommended by S.I.Prakash himself to Vas family which exposes the nexus between some Police and advocates.

            On 9/7/10 Prakash has tried to withdraw Gangadhar  Shetty’s complaint to the Commissioner by offering him a job in KMC since threats did not succeed.

            We have met the Commissioner of Police on July 26, 2010 and explained to him in detail about this incident. We have asked him to dismantle both these SP Squad and DCIB. In fact, once the Commissionerate is formed these two become defunct. We are also preparing a detailed report on several rights violations committed by these two groups which will be submitted to the police commissioner shortly.

NCHRO

President

Short Comings of Karnataka State Human Rights Commission

Mangalore,

July 6, 2010

Press Release

SHRC is functioning in Karnataka since 2007 and though it has delivered some good judgments we find that it is suffering from a number of shortcomings:

Majority of complainants do not seem to get any relief from the SHRC.

There are unconscionable delays in the working of the Commission.

The Commission resorts to short cuts to close the file on some pretext or other.

We have reasons to believe that there are some top officials in SHRC who            are corrupt who do not hesitate to manipulate the documents and   decisions of SHRC.

Offences and violations committed by the police are being investigated    by the police themselves. Is it right to rely on accused to probe into their   own offences? What can be achieved by such investigations?

Hence majority of the citizens specially the poor and weaker sections do   not get justice.

The Prevention of cattle Slaughter Bill, 2010 which the government intends          to enact is unconstitutional and violates the fundamental right to food.           SHRC ought to have taken it very seriously and served suo motu notice to      the government. But it has failed to do so.

The government’s response to SHRC’s functioning has not been up to the mark. The government itself is the main violator of Human Rights in our state. It has frustrated the Commission’s efforts by ignoring its requests and recommendations. It is crystal clear from the repeated press statements of Justice S.R. Nayak that the government is neither honest nor serious about strengthening SHRC. There is no point in  having a SHRC as a toothless tiger. In fact, being of not much use to the common people it is actually turning out to be a white elephant. We therefore wish to make certain recommendations in order to strengthen the institution of SHRC:

SHRC should have its own internal investigation team filled with highly      experienced, professional, devoted, honest, ethical minded personnel.

Amend the Act and make the orders of SHRC mandatory on the     government.

Provision of penalty/ punishment to the concerned Minister/ Secretary/    Officers when its orders are not complied with.

Moreover SHRC should make its own investigations into citizens     complaint through highly professional agencies or make use of CBI for this purpose.

We advise citizens to approach District Court for relief, as government has           declared  District Courts as Human Rights Courts. But even here it would       be necessary to have the investigations done by an independent body       rather than asking the Police to investigate into their own offences and     violations.

We have enclosed herewith a few sample cases to prove our above findings.

For Peoples Union for Civil Liberties, D.K.,

P.B.D’Sa

(President)

Case No

Analysis of HRC Case

Action taken

HRC

462/07

This was submitted to the SHRC, Chairman on 24-11-2007 personally in the circuit house when he visited Mangalore. This was a request for transferring the Policemen and Police officers, who were entrenched in D.K. for too long a period and those who were communalized and creating problems for the minorities. SHRC acted with lightening speed and ordered additional Chief Secretary  and Principal Secretary to transfer all Policemen as requested by us. No transfers were effected.
HRC 671/07

Dated 11-12-07

And

HRC 638/07

We had complained to SHRC demanding transfer of all Police Officers in DK as they have been fully corrupted and communalized and hence, violating the human Rights of Dalits Backward classes and innocent minority members. We had named Ganggi Reddy as one of the most corrupt. And blamed the S.P, Sateesh Kumar strangely enough on Prakash Kamath filed a complaint against President PUCL calling him Naxalete under HRC 638/07 Somebody in SHRC appears to have manipulated the papers and cooked up a complainant by name Prakash Kamath who has accused Mr. P.B.D’Sa as a Naxalite. And therefore our complaint is clubbed with his complaint and dismissed our complaint without carrying out any investigations. SHRC has neither sent  us the copy of report submitted by IGP Western Range nor the copy of complaint from Prakash Kamath for our comments as per normal practice of SHRC. Though we have filed our objection and reminded SHRC twice there is no response from SHRC
HRC1748/2008 This is a case of kidnap of a Brahmin girl by her relatives and kept under house arrest because she married a Dalit boy both were majors residing in SIRSI SHRC simply closed the case on receiving an explanation from the Police department of Karwar stating that they have filed an FIR. In fact Sec 12 [b] gives powers to SHRC to intervene in any proceedings pending before a court. There was no need to close the case. Under the pretext that FIR was filed
7942/09 This complaint we filed by M.Kabeer, who is a member of PUCL as also Komu Souharda Vedike. Because of his good work in the human rights field he has constantly exposed the S I Shivaprakash and other corrupt constables and reported against them to S P and I G P Angered by this Shivaprakash has booked false cases and trespassed into his house 2:15 A.M( midnight) tortured him and filed false cases. One after another and went to the extent of including his name in the Rowdy list. Instead of goung through the documents submitted by him to SHRC and making thorough investigations. SHRC has simply based its judgement on the medical certificate. Issued by the Doctors at Wenlock  Hospital, and taken shelter on some technical points and dismissed his case. Even though S I did not appear before the court any time inspite of 9 summons were issued to hm. SHRC finds the S I not guilty. The report submitted by I.G.P itself shows that  S.I was biased and communal minded. Infact since Police tortured him without keeping any  witness in front of him, SHRC should have based its findings on circumstantial evidence. SHRC has not taken any steps about his complaint against S.I. for including this  name under Rowdy list. SHRC has simply passed over this matter.
HRC 519/08

Regarding Ullal atrocities 8-1-08 to 25-1-08

This was a complaint against DYSP Jayanth Shetty and Additional S P Kaushalendra Kumar by M. Kabeer for deliberately torturing minority community youth as also for filing a false case against him. Instead of probing deep into the complaints SHRC has made force of the case by accepting the versions of the accused Police. No useful purpose will be served if investigations are conducted in this manner. SHRC expects eye-witnesses for custodial torture.
HRC2762/10 Against Rowdism by ABVP student in university College Case regarding harassment to Prof. Pattabhiram Somayaji of University college by ABVP Members

Vice – Chancellor took note of ABVP complaint and ignored the complaint of 300 students against the rowdism of ABVP students

This is a case filed by PUCL before the SHRC because of harassment caused by ABVP and mental torture given by University authorities questioning his right to freedom of speech and expression. This was amounting to criminal misbehavior by ABVP students, since they had involved in threatening law abiding students from attending classes and causing law and order disturbances by causing forceful Bundh of the college. The authorities took one sided action against the professor without taking any action against the students who indulged in criminal activities inside the college premises though about 300 students had complained against the ABVP members who had support of only about 15 students SHRC has not taken any steps so far.
HRC 2965/10 This was a complaint preferred by PUCL Same has been rejected by SHRC only because copies of the complaint were sent to some other authorities. This appears to be a lame excuse. To get the problems solved quickly we do send copies to connected departments. This should not be a reason to reject our application.
HRC6535/09

About Death of Mohammed

A case in which one Mohamud, died out of a sudden heart attack because Police entered into his house in the midnight in search of a suspect in Gurpur. Mohammed was not an accused in any case. All circumstantial evidence shows that he died because of the sudden and rude manner in which Police entered his house. Though he had no history of heart disease he died on account of sudden trespass of the police. Which caused the heart attack.
Our complaint dated 15/5/2008 regarding one S.K. Vivekananda One Mr. S.K. Vivekananda was misleading the people of Karnataka by starting an NGO with the name Karnataka State Human Rights Council which was done deliberately. Vivekananda was infact blackmailing businessmen and poor ladies who user to come to his office. We reported this matter to Chirman of SHRC giving proof of Mr. Vivekananda’s cheating in Mangalore in the name of Gaurow Enterprises. After reminding twice the secretary of the commission wrote a threatening letter to us. We therefore kept quiet about it. Within a year Mr. S.R. Nayak came to know the truth and then got Mr. S.K. Vivekananda arrested.  This incidence  proove that somebody was protecting him from within SHRC without the knowledge of Chairman.

HC imposes Rs 50,000 fine on police inspector for illegal detention

HC imposes Rs 50,000 fine on police inspector for illegal detention

Mangalore; The Karnataka High Court has imposed a fine of Rs.50,000 on the then Belthangady Police inspector  C R Raveesh for keeping Lokayya Gowda of Patrame village in Belthangady village under illegal  detention and ‘fixing’ him in a false case.

            Police had picked up Lokayya Gowda, a grocery shop owner in the village on June 26, 2001, mistaking him for an absconding criminal K Lakayya Gowda of Peraru village. In fact, there was no connection between Peruru Lokayya Gowda and Patrame Lakayya Gowda.

            The absconding criminal was wanted by police in a pending criminal case of 20 years old after arresting Lokayya Gowda. He was produced before the Belthangady court by producing false document that he was the criminal absconding for the last 20 years. Inspite of repeated pleas, police did not listen to Gowda. Infact, the criminal was from Perur and the finger print and the photo of K Lokayya Gowda  which was in the police station was not matching with that of Lokayya Gowda of Patrame. Based on the report submitted by the police Inspector, Belthangady Court had remanded Lokayya Gowda to judicial custody for 15 days. However, late after the enquiry court realised that Lokayya Gowda was not the real culprit and was released from jail after 15 days.

            After coming out of the jail, Gowda filed a private case against the police inspector in the Belthangady court in 2001. However, the judgement was being postponed for the last seven years. Dejected over the delay in the justice , he approached High court through advocate P P Hegde.

            In 2007, the High Court directed Belthangady court to probe into the incident. After enquiry, criminal case was filed against police inspector. Having filed to appear before the court, court has ordered warrant against Police Inspector. However, later Police inspector appealed in the High Court. P.P Hegde in the court said the police needlessly dragged his client before the court and slurred his reputation and standing in society, for which he had to fight for nine long years to clear his name. The court imposed a fine of Rs. 50000 on C R Raveesh. Accordingly, Raveesh has paid the compensation amount to the Belthangady JMFC to be paid to Patrame Lokayya Gowda.

DH News Service

Veerappa Moily attributes Naxal

Veerappa Moily attributes Naxal

menace to lack of foresight

 

BANGALOR, DHNS: Union Law and Justice Minister M Veerappa Moily has attributed raging naxal menace to “lack of foresight” in tackling the issue.

“Discriminatory policies, apathy and insensitive approach are the principal reasons for the Naxal problem dogging 182 districts in the country”, the Union Law Minister remarked here on Sunday.

Moily was speaking at a function to felicitate candidates selected for Indian and Karnataka Administrative Services in Bangalore. Putting the onus on the states for regional imbalance, Moily condemned the “failure of some states” in utilizing the available funds for integrated development and addressing the problems of backward regions.

 

DANTEWADA RAPES

DANTEWADA RAPES

At a clearing in the forests of Chhattisgarh, barely a kilometer from the Chintalnar CRPF camp, a man in civvies walked up to our local guide. “Don’t take them any further. Remember, you have to live in this state”, he threatened.

A few hours earlier, we had chanced upon a Naxal poster nailed on a tree, saying 10 women were raped by the forces. We were waiting for motorcycles to visit their villages. The narrow strip of road slowly disintegrates ahead of Chintalnar, after which the ‘interior villages’ are considered Maoist strongholds. In the myopic narrative of the state, any attempt to venture into these areas is seen as an attempt to assist the Maoists.

Despite repeated attempts, security forces did not allow TEHELKA to go beyond the Chintalnar camp. Reasons ranged from safety concerns to the pretext of a Naxal bandh. “No one is being allowed into the area,” said Dornapal Assistant Sub-Inspector SK Dhurve. We watched as trucks and buses passed through without hindrance. TEHELKA then met the rape victims by crossing over into Andhra Pradesh, traversing an alternative back route through deep forests. What was an 80-km journey stretched to atleast 300 km.

In the Chhattisgarh conflict, there are many tools of war-the clampdown on civil society, the unplugging of Adivasis from access to the  media or the judiciary, the arming of civilians, fake encounters, the arbitrary detention of villagers, and now a brutal targeting of tribal women. Rape has become a way to terrorise an entire community into submission. The Adivasis of Dantewada are increasingly being left with two choices-become part of the ‘mainstream’ or flee further into the forests.

Already, a new exodus has begun. The village of Mukram, only a few kilometers from where the Maoists ambushed 76 security personnel, is turning into a ghost village. On May 22, three a girls were raped and five people including the Sarpanch picked up.

Facing a backlash from the troops, most of the 115 families are fleeing to Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. “The forces broke into my houe during search operations”, says Mangal Kunjam. “Who knows what they might do next. We are leaving for Orissa tomorrow”

OF RAPES AND REFUGEES

At the edge of the forest, under a bamboo thatch, a lone clay pot simmers on a log fire. Crushed chilies and strewn clother are the only markers of habitation. This clearing in the forest is now home to two sisters-Madvi Hidme and Madvi Aimla- who recently fled their mud huts in Mukram. A third girl, Madvi Posse, hides in her aunt’s hut a few kilometers away.

Hidme, Aimla and Posse are the new pawns in a brutal war raging inside India’s heartland. All three girls, 14-18 years, accuse the forces of rape.

At around 4pm on May 22, they were sorting mahua flowers when they were picked up by patrolling troops and taken towards the Chintalnar CRPF camp. Two men held each girl by the arm. Midway, the women were thrown on the ground and beaten. They say the assaulters were a group of SPOs-Special Police officers –in shirts and lungis,  joined at varying points by men in uniform. “You are so healthy, the Naxals must be feeding you well”, a man sneered at Hidme.

“They stamped on us with their boots. They kicked us in the stomach. They thrashed our backs with a gun and poked us with rifle butts. They beat us till our skin turned black and blue and until we soiled ourselves. They tore our clothers off. They accused us of helping the Naxals attack the forces”, says Hindme.

When the men tried to press themselves upon her,  Hidme began screaming for help. She was gagged with a towel. “I was kicked in the genitals till I bled”, she says. She recalls being ‘grouped’ by several men before she lost consciousness. There were nail marks across her chest and her genitals bled for several days after.

“don’t go back home, I’ll marry you”, one of the assaulters told Hidme. “If you run away, we will find you, cut you up into pieces and bury you in cement”.

When Hidme regained consciousness, she was ordered to wash up in the pong. By then, Hidme’s mother had arrived to save her daughters. All four women were taken inside the CRPF camp and beaten again. “They pulled us by the hair, and twirled us around in circles”, Hidme says. At the camp, the men said that these women were part of the Chetna Natya Manch [CNM] the Maoist cultural outfit and had been picked up while they engaged in song and dance. It was only when an officer told his men, “Are you going to eat them? Lt them go”, that the three women were let off.

“We have no knowledge of any rapes last month”, says TG Longkumer, Inspector General of Basta. Ask Madvi Hidme if she wants  her assaulters punished, and the horror of her story becomes more evident. You expect a fierce cry for justice. It does not come. Instead, there is a quiet statement: “These Cobras and SPOs should leave Dantewada. They should be sent out”, She has never heard of the Supreme Court, or any court, but says she’s willing to testify.

Justice, perhaps, is an urban idea. Perhaps that is why four women in Samseti village are yet to see  any trace of it. TEHELKA’s cover story in July 2009, detailed the rape of six women in Samseti village in Dantewada. In court hearings, the state claimed that the accused SPOs are absconding. But TEHELKA tracked two of the accused. Soyam Muka, leader of Konta camp, was interviewed at his home a few kilometers from the police station. Budo Raja, leader of Injaram camp, lives opposite the CREF camp and greeted us with a jawan by his side.

In lacchipara, barely a few hundred meters from the Chintalnar CREF camp, villagers say at least one woman was raped, while attempts were made to rape two others. Madavi Nanda had stepped out of her bath and was barely clothed when the forces dragged her out of her house towards a distant hand pump,” says her mother-in-law. She was stripped naked and beaten. Another woman who was also dragged to the spot says she saw the forces lift Nanda’s petticoat. “They would have raped me too, but villagers had gathered,” she says.

          “It has become a pattern for the forces to harass the women when the men are out in the fields, ‘  says Jago, a farmer. He alleges that they tried to rape his wife while she was cooking, ‘;” the forces tried to steal a hen I bought from Andhra for Rs. 300, “ says neighbor Madkam Sodi. “When I protested, a man brabbed my throat and bit my cheek”

In many ways, Dantewada is rapidly descending into a zone of no control-a battlefield where both armies have little writ over their soldiers. The Naxals continue to kill Adivasis as police informers villagers say it is often personal enmity, done without the knowledge of top comrades. The troops and SPOs continue to loot homes, steal chicken, threaten children, kill farmers and rape women.

This month, 600 more men arrived at the Chintalnar camp. TEHELKA has lernt that 150 SPOs were recruited this year and there is talk of inducting at least 1,000 more. To understand why this is significant, wander the 23 ‘relief’ camps in Bastar, set up in June 2005 after the raising of the Salwa  Judum. Though the term means ‘Peace March’ and is touted as a local uprising against the Maoists, it is widely accepted that the Judum is a state sponsored militia responsible for evacuating 644 villages, killing countless tribals and displacing at least 1.5 lakh people.

In a sense, the Judum split Vastar into two-the camps and the villages, the roadside and the ‘interiors’, the State and the Naxals. It left no other options. That is what continues to be reinforced brutally on the ground. That is why a Sarpanch and his wife, an Anganwadi worker, had to rent a room by the road in Dornapal. “It’s not safe in the village. You never know when homes can be attacked”, says Madvi Podiyam. His own friends in the Salwa Judum have warned him: “Don’t go to the interiors. If we see during a search operation, we might kill you”.

Inside the Injaram camp, villagers are virtually under curfew. “We feel caged we have to come back by 6 pm. We can’t even trust the forces. If they bump into us on the road at night, they’ll think we were helping the Naxals”, says Madvi Bhime.

In Konta town, Aslam Bhai can barely sustain his family. Before the Judum days his income was Rs. 10,000 per month now it’s barely Rs. 3,000. A flourishing trade of tora [a fruit], madhua and tarmarind brought thousands of villagers to the Konta town market every Thursday. “No one comes now”, he says. “They are either in the camps or the villages”.

In April 2008, an Administrative Reform Commission headed by Congressman Veerappa Moily recommended the disbanding of the Salwa Judum. Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam asked: “How can the State give arms to some persons? The State will be abetting a crime if these private persons kill others”. On February 5, 2009, the state government assured the Supreme Court that the Salwa Judum was on its way out.

Yet, on the ground, Judum leaders themselves claim the movement is alive. Thousands continue to live as refugees, forcibly brought to the camps, unable to return home, and forever trapped in their identity as part of the Judum. More among them are now being made SPOs.

“How can they claim the Judum  is over? Asks Kora Podiyam, a Sarpanch living inside Dornapal camp. “We have come here in the name of the Judum. We help the forces. If we get information about Naxals, we inform them immediately. Until we are here, the Judum exists”.

“There is no question of the Salwa Judum dissolving”, exclaims Judum leader P Vijay. “In fact, more and more people want to join us”. Most of these are families affected by Naxal violence or unemployed boys in the camps. Like Rajesh Arvind, who became an SPO when he was 12. “I had nothing else to do”, he explains. “It was good money”. His monthly salary of Rs. 2,150 will increase to Rs. 3000 starting July 2010.

Then there is Madkam Moriya from Banda village. “The forces barged into my village and began burning men alive”, he says. “We had no choice but to flee to the camps. Then the Naxals burnt the remaining homes”. When he reached the Konta camp, “Netas asked me to be come an SPO”, And so he did.

Madkam Munna, 19, has been living in the Dornapal camp since 2005. In the violence that ensued at the start of the Judum, Naxals killed three people in his village, including his uncle. He became an SPO in August 2009. Within six months, in February 2010, he was made part of the elite Khoya Commandos and trained in operating SLRs, LMGs, AK-47s, hand grenades and rifles. In the past one month, Munna has been on 20 search operations and picked up five people.

The SPOs are a lethal tool in a divide and –rule policy that is rapidly pitting Adivasi against Adivasi. Though the government claims that SPOs are distinct from the Salwa Judum, such stories blur the lines. The irony is that the women being raped  and the SPOs assaulting them are pawns in a dangerous game.

At present, insiders estimate the total number of SPOs in Chhattisgarh to be at least 12,000. Sources told TEHELKA that the state police are hoping to induct more SPOs into the District Force[DF], where Rs, 12000 is the starting salary. In the last batch of DF vacancies that opened up this month, 70 of 120 posts have been filled by SPOs who need only to have passed Class 5. In a way, this could turn the DF into a sort of ruthless militia.

 Sanjay Sharma, deputy SP of Dantewada, confirmed to TEHELKA that the DF has reserved seats for SPOs but would not say how many. “Those who are unemployed and against the Maoist ideology can become SPOs”, says Sharma. “for constables, education, physical fitness and a constabulary exam is a must. These not do apply to SPOs. They have to be 18, have good attitude and knowledge of the local terrain”. Intelligence is meant to be the primary asset of an SPO, but it often becomes a way to get personal enemies killed.

If you happened to be in an SPO tent, in the fading light of a hot summer day, as a bunch of 20-somethings toss around a football, the irony would become evident. “We have no intelligence, we haven’t caught any Naxals, and the public lives in fear of us”, says Soyam Mukesh, 22, “but there’s no way out”.

That is why SPOs inside Errabore camp whisper when the inspector is not looking. “We fear a Naxal attack. They fire at the camp at least twice a week. I’m scared to walk o n the road at night. We have become bigger targets after becoming SPOs, says Venkatesh, 26, from Gaganpalli village. “Even if we leave the job and go elsewhere, we’ll always be marked. We will die either way, so it’s better to keep fighting”. That is why Panda Mukesh, 23, shrugs now after four years of duty. “I’ve seen so much blood, nothing affects me now”.

Slowly, insidiously, the conflict has altered daily life in Bastar. Villagers trek hundreds of kilometers to weekly markets in Andhra Pradesh fearing harassment at the local bazaar. In Burkhapal, villagers have gathered in the dusk, frantically hailing passersby. Hours ago, in single file, the women started their 20 km trek to Chintagupa to get their PDS rice. The men have stopped going to the market for fear of being picked up. It is night in the deep jungle, and women have not returned. Patients in Dantewada now cross over the border because there is not a single MBBS doctor in their town. Children in the ‘interior’ villages go to a school in Adrapalli, AP. Whatever hospitals and schools existed earlier have either been emptied  out by the Judum or blasted by the Naxals. Nearly 100 schools closed last year.

It has been five years since the Judum was formed, but there is no rehabilitation policy for displaced villagers. TEHELKA visited four ‘relief’ camps and found that almost 100 percent of the Adivasis want to return to their villages. Manni Paro pays a Judum leader Rs. 200 a month to keep her mud hut and tarpaulin sheets. Those who cannot afford the bribe moved further into the more cramped sections of the camp.

“We were much happier in our villages. The Naxals didn’t bother us before the Judum started. We got fish from the lakes and reared our chicken. Everything was cheap,” says Madkam Sita, from Konta camp. “Here, there is nothing to do and not enough to feed my three children”.

In what is perhaps an attempt to corroborate the government’s claim that it is giving the Judum no official support, the supply of free ration to the camps was stopped three months ago. Korsa Sanmu, Sarpanch of Silger and Judum leader, met the CM for answers. “We can’t feed you forever. You have to stand on your own feet. The supplies had to end at some point”, he says the CM told him.

The desperation has triggered a new trend. Most Dornapal camp villagers now trek upto 20 km to cultivate their fields, always fearfully. Some have received notices form the Naxals: “Come back home. We will not harm you”. But the past records are ugly, and there is a trust deficit in Dantewada.

For those whose homes are deeper in the jungle, even such daily trips are impossible. Mangal Dai from Aserguda village now toils under the NREGS, but yearns for his five-acre plot. “If I go back, the Naxals will kill me for being part of the Judum, and the Judum will kill me for helping the Naxals”, he says “We’re being hounded at both ends”.

WRITER’S EMAIL:tusha@tehelka.com