Chhattisgarh – Carrying bodies, tribal women of Bastar lead protests against cops


Ashutosh Bhardwaj : Gangalur, Ehadsameta , Mon May 20 2013,
BasterAn injured outside Gangalur police station. (IE Photo)

Bastar has seen several protests but rarely have tribal women come out and beat their breasts, shouting slogans. Surprisingly, men tried to calm them down, pull them away but these women continued to scream and hurled stones at the Gangalur police station and nearby CRPF camp.Old and young women were protesting while carrying bodies of their husbands and sons, handed over to them around 1 pm on Sunday. They knew only Gondi and Halbi but managed a few Hindi abuses. “Wapas jao… wapas jao..,” they shouted at the CRPF camp as they laid down the bodies at the thana gate and tried to break open its lock. Two old women rattled barbed fencing of the CRPF camps and threw stones at the personnel on guard, forcing them to run for cover. “Raman Sarkar murdabaad, murdaabaad.” Some of them hurled utensils inside the thana. “Stop killing tribals; kill us now, if you dare.”

All the deceased were men; two of them father and sons — Karam Joga and his son Badru (13), Karam Pandu and his son Guddu (14). The other minor boy killed was Punem Lakhu (15).

The agony did not end with their death. The bodies were lying in open field, under 45 degree sun, decomposing, badly swollen and emanating unbearable smell. CRPF men, face covered, guarded them with X-95, AK-47 with an Under Barrel Grenade Launcher.

“Jara pet par chira laga,” a doctor said. He too had his face covered. A man, Suklu, came forward and cut open a naked body. Red worms protruded out from stomach. “Dead bodies become like balloon. When you cut them, they produce fart like sound,” a CRPF cop explained. Relatives of the deceased held the bodies as the doctor examined the bodies with a stick, from a distance.

“Don’t you have another blade, a new one,” Civil Surgeon Dr B R Pujari asked his colleagues. Only two blades were used so far, and five bodies had been cut open from various sides, the doctor thought of changing the blade. But there was none. Suklu did not change surgical gloves through the process.

Pujari admitted that it’s against the law to conduct postmortem in open, that too in police presence, and the entire process was probably illegal. “Under certain conditions, an officer with rank of SDM and above can give permission to conduct it otherwise,” he tried to explain.

SDM Virendra Bahadur Panchbhai said: “The only requirement for postmortem is of adequate light. Other things can be relaxed in special situations.”

An hour later, their women relatives were protesting outside the thana for justice. They had arrived here on Saturday evening when police forcibly brought the bodies along, but now after nearly 24 hours men convinced them to take the bodies back home. The administration arranged for a tractor, but the terrain was difficult and it left them in between. And then began a two-hour-long journey to carry the bodies on shoulders.

Two bodies, father and son Joga and Badru, were kept on the same logs and cremated together. “It’s not unusual among tribals. When a person loves someone a lot, we cremate together,” said a tribal.

– See more at: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/carrying-bodies-tribal-women-lead-protests-against-cops/1118025/0#sthash.5gBvcRXp.dpuf

 

Chhattisgarh- No Maoists were present when forces opened fire, say villagers


May 19, 2013

 

Suvojit Bagchi, The Hindu

“The villagers gathered in one particular area for community dining, which is a ritual at this time of the year. It is part of the seed festival and there were no Maoists around. The forces opened fire without any provocation,” said a local on condition of anonymity.

Locals of Chhattisgarh’s Edesmeta village — where at least nine persons were killed during a gun battle late on Friday purportedly between security forces and Maoist fighters — have told The Hindu that there was no Maoist presence in the area at the time and that the forces had fired without provocation.

“The villagers gathered in one particular area for community dining, which is a ritual at this time of the year. It is part of the seed festival and there were no Maoists around. The forces opened fire without any provocation,” said a local on condition of anonymity. Two other villagers seconded his testimony.

The incident had taken place in Bijapur district’s Edesmeta forest — about 600 km south of the State capital Raipur — under the Ganglur police station during a combing raid by joint forces. Reports suggest that most of the victims were innocent civilians. Senior officials confirmed that at least seven casualties were villagers and prima facie not attached to the Communist Party of India (Maoist). Chief Minister Raman Singh has ordered a judicial inquiry into the incident.

The dead villagers were identified as Guddu (10), Pandu (45), Bahadur (12), Joga Karam (40), Punem Lakhkhu (15), Punem Sonu (40), Karam Chhonu (42) and Karam Masa (27). Guddu and Pandu were father and son, as were Bahadur and Joga Karam. CRPF soldier Devaprakash died after he was shot in the forehead.

Police say at least one of the slain villagers was a Maoist and that they seized a country rifle made from the spot with the CPI-Maoist’s ‘West Bastar Division’ inscribed on it.

The incident took place when six teams of joint forces — a mix of State police, CRPF personnel and elite commando force CoBRA — were converging upon the Maoist stronghold, Pidiya, from six different directions. “In last few months we have moved in the Pidiya area thrice. We are targeting Pidiya as it is a strong base of the Maoists,” Additional Director-General of Police (Naxal Operation) R.K. Vij told The Hindu.

The forces were reportedly moving from six police stations — Sarkeguda, Jagargunda, Basaguda, Cherpal, Kirandul and Ganglur — towards Pidiya and reached Edesmeta village, around eight km from Pidiya, when the Ganglur team came under heavy fire.

“There were some villagers who were cooking food for a group of Maoists. One of them came towards the force and alerted the rest of the team; firing started and the forces retaliated,” said a senior officer. The senior officers told The Hindu at least seven persons killed in the exchange of fire could be “innocent villagers”. Another officer said “they could also be with Maoist militia”.

On Saturday, senior officers told The Hindu that Maoists were using the villagers as “human shields”. However, other officers refuted this claim and said the villagers were shot when they happened to stray into the firing line.

Post-mortem was conducted in Ganglur police station.

 

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