Why doesn’t the AP police come clean about two missing tribal women? #Vaw #Disappearances


by  Jan 21, 2013, First Post

It is easy to know when you have crossed the Andhra Pradesh border to step into Chhattisgarh. An apology of a road that connects to Sukma town takes three hours to traverse a distance of 75 km. The southern part of the state, just like the border areas in Khammam district of Andhra Pradesh, is forest area, where the police stations are heavily fortified posts, protecting themselves more than protecting the local population. Because more often than not, the cops look at anyone who is not in khaki, as an enemy, a Maoist. And if not a Maoist, most definitely a Maoist sympathiser.

And when the law looks at everyone else as an outlaw, they invariably cross the line. Like the policemen from Andhra Pradesh reportedly did on 12 January when they allegedly crossed the border to take away two tribal women – 21-year-old Madvi Parvathi and 15-year-old Kovasi Somidi – from Nimmalagudem village. Home to some 30 tribal families, the village is in Konta block of Sukma district, 3 km inside Chhattisgarh from the border. The tribals engage in farming for their livelihood, growing paddy, millet and chillies and migrating to areas in Andhra Pradesh during the summer to work as labour. The Human Rights Forum (HRF) team that visited the village four days later, was told by the villagers that an police party, around 100 persons strong, assaulted villagers, including children before taking away six of them into the forest. They were taken to a spot, about half a kilometre from the village, near a hillock where there were remnants of a camp set up by the Maoists a couple of days back. The security personnel accused the six villagers of providing food and help to the Maoists and allegedly beat them. Tribal residents are often caught in between the security forces and Maoists. AFP It was after repeated pleading that four of them were let off but Parvathi and Somidi were taken away. Parvathi who is three months pregnant, was also allegedly partially disrobed by the all-male contingent of cops. For days after the `official abduction’, the villagers kept combing the forest areas in search of the two women, or perhaps their bodies. Finally they walked nearly two hours by foot to Cherla, a mandal headquarters in Khammam district and narrated the events to local reporters. They also met the Bhadrachalam sub-collector Narayana Bharat Gupta to plead for help in locating the duo. He offered them hope but since yesterday, has been pleading that Nimmalagudem is not part of his jurisdiction. For the villagers, to be caught in the crossfire between the police and Maoists is nothing new. They say every time there is movement of Maoists in the area or any incident involving the Maoists, the Andhra Pradesh police targets and harasses them. VS Krishna of HRF recalls an incident in Nimmalagudem in 2008 when two men were picked up from the village allegedly by security personnel, taken to Cherla and shot dead. A petition was also filed in the State Human Rights Commission in the case. After messages sent by fax to the Chief Justices of the Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh High courts seeking their intervention did not yield any result, a habeas corpus petition has been filed in the Andhra Pradesh High court today, to get the police force to come clean on Parvathi and Somidi. Almost at the same time as the petition was filed in the High court, Gajarao Bhupal, ASP of Khammam police denied having picked up the women, claiming no police party visited Nimmalagudem on January 12. “There should have been at least a case of missing persons filed in Kishtaram police station under which Nimmalagudem falls but there is no case there. The Chhattisgarh police too has not enquired,” he said. In an ironical twist, the villagers plan to travel to Khammam district today to physically mount pressure on the administration came unstuck because the North Telangana unit of the Maoists has called a bandh in the area on some other issue. That human rights are violated both by security personnel and Maoists is not new. For years, villagers in Naxal-affected areas of north Telangana faced either police harassment or Naxal kangaroo courts, just because they did not have the courage to say no to a man with a weapon. But if India’s “greatest internal security threat” is to be fought by the state making several innocents in the geographical ‘Bharat’ pay the price, it would be a war that would only widen the divide that already exists between the two Indias. Meanwhile, the state needs to answer : Where are Parvathi and Somidi?

 

#Chhattisgarh: Abduction of Adivasi Women by A. P Police #Vaw #tribalrights


January 19, 2013

A four-member fact-finding team of the Human Rights Forum (HRF) to Nimmalagudem village on January 16, 2013 was told by tribal residents that two women of the village — Madvi Parvathi, (aged 21, wife of Madvi Bhaskar) and a minor Kovasi Somidi, (aged 15, daughter of Kovasi Idma and Kovasi Aite) were forcibly taken away by policemen from Andhra Pradesh at about 7 am on January 12, 2013 from the village itself. Their whereabouts are not known till date. According to Parvathi’s mother Punam Jogamma and her husband Bhaskar, Parvathi is also pregnant.

Nimmalagudem, with about 30 tribal households, is in Konta block of Sukma district, Chattisgarh. It is located only about 3 km from the Andhra Pradesh border. Residents, who are all farmers, said a huge police party from AP consisting of over 100 personnel, including the Greyhounds, came to the village at daybreak on January 12. On seeing the police from a distance, most men fled into the forest in the opposite direction. The policemen began abusing and beating up residents including several women and children. Among those beaten up were Sodi Devi, a 10 year-old girl and a 12-year old boy Madvi Venkatesh. The boy lost three teeth as a result.

The policemen then picked up a farmer Podium Chukkaiah and his minor son (aged about 11) P Bhimaiah as well as Parvathi, Somidi and another woman Madkam Saramma. Their hands were tied and they were taken to a spot about half a kilometre away from the village below a hillock where there were remnants of a camp set up earlier by the Maoists. Accusing the four as well as the entire village of providing food and help to the Maoists, they beat them with their hands and sticks. Bhimaiah was slapped repeatedly.

Several women including Parvathi’s mother Jogamma, her aunt Punam Somamma, Somidi’s mother Aite followed the policemen pleading with them to not harm their daughters. The policemen instead abused and also beat up the three women and even kicked them. Aite and Jogamma tried to give some water to Parvathi and Somidi but the policemen did not allow it.

Soon after, the police partially disrobed Parvathi and Somidi and forcibly took the two away with them. They let go of Saramma, Chukkaiah and Bhimaiah. Chukkaiah was bedridden for two days from the beatings and is now better. Over a week after they were abducted by the AP police, there is still no trace of Parvathi and Somidi.

The incident was reported in the Telugu media after the tribals went to Cherla, a mandal headquarters in Khammam district of AP, and narrated the events to local reporters. When contacted by reporters, police officials have kept denying knowledge of the whole thing.

On January 16, Nimmalagudem villagers again walked to Cherla and met the Bhadrachaslam sub-collector Narayana Bharat Gupta. They told him what had happened on January 12 and pleaded with to help them locate their daughters. They told him that every-time there was movement of Maoists in the area or any incident involving the Maoists, the Andhra police were targeting Nimmalagudem and harassing them. Gupta promised to take up the matter with higher officials. Two days have gone by and there is no word about the women.

Fax messages have been sent to the Chief Justice of the AP High Court as well as the Chattisgarh CJ seeking their intervention.
An appeal was made by HRF through the media to immediately set the two women free and handed over to their families.

Members of the HRF fact-finding team:
1. VS Krishna (HRF State general secretary)
2. SK Khadar Babu (HRF Khammam district president)
3. D Adinarayana (HRF Khammam district general secretary)
4. N Amar (HRF Nalgonda district vice-president)

 

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