#India – Naxal elephant in the drawing room #Chhattisgarh



The institutionalised resistance to State authority, which is really what Naxalite violence is all about, has been around for a very long time.

June 9, 2013:

It isn’t quite the run-of-the-mill elephant jokes that were popular at one time (Google it if you are so inclined), although the elephant figures in it in a major way.

I have in mind a tale about a mother elephant that had calved on top of a hill. It was narrated to me by the manager of a company I worked in for a while. He would insist on coming up with the most comprehensive solution to a problem that the team under him could barely get started on solving. While that is an awful state of affairs, you could go just as terribly wrong by getting started on the first thing that strikes you as the solution.

The story goes that there existed a temple on top of a thickly wooded hill. There was a pathway that was barely enough for people to go up in single file, if they wanted to get to the top. The climb was not just arduous but treacherous as well.

On most days, the temple priest would be the only one to go up the hill and, that too, because it fell upon him to perform the morning rituals. The rest confined themselves to offering prayers only on important festival days.

Cracking the calf puzzle

One morning, when the priest went up to perform his daily puja, he was astonished to find a calf elephant crying out plaintively for help. Soon, all the villagers trekked to the top of the hill. The question in everyone’s mind was, ‘‘How did the baby elephant get to the top when even expert trekkers found the going so tough?’’

The villagers were scratching their heads trying to find an answer. Soon, the village wisecrack hit upon an explanation. He said, ‘‘Look, I think it is like this. The mother elephant must have gone up the hill and given birth to a calf.’’ . The villagers nodded their heads. ‘‘Oh yes, that is really how it must have happened’’, they seemed to be telling each other and dispersed in the secure knowledge that they had cracked a puzzle. But, of course, the real mystery was not how the calf happened to get there, but how a pregnant elephant managed to get to the top of the hill and give birth to a calf.

So it would seem, for the talking heads and writers in the media, when it comes to understanding the Naxalite violence and the role of private militia orsalwa judum as it is called.

If only the Government had not created this monster, the problem of Naxalite violence would not have escalated to the extent of wiping out the entire state Congress party leadership in the manner in which it did.

But the truth is, salwa judum or not, Naxalites have been around for a long time. Also, it isn’t as though they have all of a sudden embarked on the path of violence after being strong adherents of the principle of ahimsa. The reality is a bit more nuanced.

Truckload of charges

Years ago, I was, for a brief while, engaged in nothing more onerous than doling out payments to transport contractors within the finance set up at the Tata’s truck plant in Pune.

Dealing as I did, with truck drivers and assorted other minions in the world of commerce, I acquired a deeper understanding of the politics and social mores of India’s vast countryside existing outside the metros.

The company had engaged the services of the cooperative society of ex-servicemen for driving away fully assembled truck chassis from Pune to various towns where Tata dealers were located.

The transportation charges that were payable took into account the distance involved; the quantity of fuel to be consumed, besides wages and daily allowance to the driver for the duration of time it took him to deliver the vehicle and return. You could say that pretty much everything had been factored in, to the last minute detail. Or at least, so the company thought.

The extra levy

But when the bills were submitted there was an extra item charged at Rs 20 per truck (not a small sum in the 80s) for some destinations which were not built into the contract. The clerk in charge of transport payments would routinely disallow that claim and pay only the balance which was, as per the terms, agreed upon.

Over time, it added up to a sizeable sum which brought the secretary of the ex-servicemen society to my office. He explained that all chassis that passed through the town of Jagdalpur in the Bastar district of Chhattisgarh for upcountry destinations, suffered a levy in the hands of the local militia and this couldn’t be incorporated in the contract.

He went on to explain in some detail, the internal security situation in the eastern parts of India. He would know; he was, after all, a retired colonel of the Indian army. Jagdalpur is at the very heart of the Naxalite movement in the State of Chhattisgarh.

It was all a long time ago. But nothing much has changed. One, the institutionalised resistance to State authority, which is really what this is all about, has been around for a very long time.

Two, such organised resistance was defeated only in the plains of Gangetic West Bengal and later in the plains of East Punjab. More specifically, the resistance could never be quelled with any degree of success where the movement operated with the advantage of hills and forests.

It is one thing to evict Naxalites from Jadavpur University which they occupied for a brief while. But it’s quite another to beat down the resistance dispersed around the hills of Chota Nagpur or the forests of Malkangiri in Odisha.

Operating at the margin

That said, no one is quite seriously doing anything about it either. The movement is being sustained because the energy needed to keep it going is generated from within. Both the rebels and the components of the established authority of the State (ruling party and the party in opposition) have no incentive to disturb the status quo.

The rebels are quite content to operate at the margin, collecting a toll on traffic in their domain; much like what warlords did when caravans passed through the Silk Road in the era before sea lanes of commerce were discovered. The political parties too do not want to destroy the rebels.

Each political party thinks that the rebels would be useful at some future date for forming an alliance to outwit the other party/parties contesting for political power.

In any case, the mindset of the rulers, no matter which party is in power, is not dissimilar to that of the rebels themselves.

There is no grand vision for the country where Naxalites stand in the way and, therefore, need to be either reformed or eliminated. They too prefer to make money at the margin from industrial investments, administrative clearances, and so on.

In other words, they operate at the margin sucking out what they can, much like the Naxalites themselves.

If Naxalites operate from the safety of the hills and forests, the ruling establishments prefer to operate from the safety of secretariats in the States and the North and the South Blocks in the Centre.

(This article was published on June 9, 2013,in Hindu )


NHRC has not given clean chit to Chhattisgarh Govt on Soni Sori as reported in Media

RAIPUR, April 15, 2013

NHRC gives clean chit to Chhattisgarh Government on Soni Sori



  While various national women’s organisations decried an attempt to make Soni Sori, the tribal school teacher accused of acting as a courier between Essar Steel and outlawed Maoists, undergo a “psychiatric evaluation” as a “sinister ploy” by the Chhattisgarh government, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has given a clean chit to the State government on the treatment meted out to the tribal school teacher. Last week, Ms. Sori informed the NHRC members that she has been “treated better” over the last few months, the NHRC claimed in a press statement.

Several national women’s organisations in Delhi decried psychiatric examination conducted on Ms. Sori recently in Jagdalpur jail where she is currently lodged. In a joint statement, seven women’s organisations said that in December 2012, a team of National Commission of Women (NCW) conducted a jail visit here and met Ms. Sori in custody.

“While the NCW report of the visit is still pending, a stray remark made by NCW member Shamina Shafiq, that Ms. Sori needed psychological counselling seems to have provided the Chhattisgarh government the pretext to carry out a full-fledged psychiatric evaluation on her, with the potential of declaring her mentally unsound,” the organisations said in a joint statement. Annie Raja, general secretary of National Federation of Indian Women, who was also part of the NCW team visiting the jail, pointed out that Ms. Shafiq’s remark was not an opinion shared by the entire team and hence, does not have the legitimacy of a formal observation. Hence, in a letter to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, the organisations demanded quashing of further proceedings in “psychiatric evaluation” and initiate steps to redress Ms. Sori’s genuine grievances of “sexual torture and ill-treatment.”

Another statement issued by the NHRC a day after the statement made by the women’s organisation, however, gave a clean chit to the Chhattisgarh government. The NHRC sent a two-member team to Jagdalpur jail on April 10 to “meet her to know her condition.”

“Ms. Sori informed the team that she has been treated better since the NHRC’s last visit,” the statement said. The Commission expressed “hope that the jail authorities would continue to give proper treatment to Ms. Sori.” A.G. Balakrishnan, chief of the Commission Justice, read out the statement here.

While the NHRC’s maiden ‘full commission’ in Chhattisgarh ended in a damp squib on Friday, the Commission took up certain matters and asked the government for a follow-up report. For example, in the case of 7,000 allegedly fake hysterectomies under the Centre’s insurance scheme Rashtriya Sam Vikas Yojana (RSVY), the Commission has asked the State government for a detailed report within a month. Hysterectomies, or removal of the uterus, have been carried out in 169 hospitals in Chhattisgarh to claim money under RSVY, according to the Commission’s press statement.

In two cases of fake encounters, mentioned in the press statement, the Commission recommended a compensation of Rs. 5 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased. Those killed in separate police encounters are Kunjami Joga of Kurtrem village of Dantewada and a Naxalite named Ramesh Barumana for “violation of human rights”. Compensation has also been recommended in cases of custodial killing of 25-year-old trial prisoner Kunjami Kosa and Santosh Dahriya. The State government “gracefully agreed” to pay compensation in all the cases, said the statement.

  • NHRC had sent a two-member team to Jagdalpur jail to know Sori’s condition
  • ‘Sori informed that she has been treated better since the NHRC’s last visit


There is no “clean chit” to the Chhattisgarh government.

On 28 July 2012, Soni Sori wrote a letter to the Supreme Court Judge saying that she is being subjected to humiliating treatment inside the Raipur jail:

“Your Honour, at this time, I am in great mental turmoil and suffering.
1. I am being made to sit naked on the ground.
2. I am suffering from hunger
3. Each part of my body is touched as I am searched.
I am being labelled as a “traitor” and “naxalite” and tortured. My clothes, soap, detergent have all been confiscated and all kinds of accusations are heaped upon me. All my belongings are searched after I am taken for a hearing.”

This formed the basis of an NHRC complaint, and it was to investigate this complaint that the NHRC visited Soni Sori in the Raipur Central Jail on 19 Nov 2012.  The visiting NHRC team confirmed that Soni Sori was being mistreated inside the jail.  The NHRC’s summary page says:

“The report of the Commission’s team shows that there are grounds to believe that Soni Sori has on several occasions beensingled out for harsh and humiliating ill-treatment. Even as a prisoner, she has a right to personal dignity and the right not to be subjected to physical or psychological abuse. It appears that these rights have sometimes been violated. The Commission expects the Government of Chhattisgarh to ensure that the traumatic ordeals and the odious practices to which Soni Sori has been subjected more than once are immediately stopped and do not recur.”


The visiting NHRC team reportedly reprimanded the Raipur jail staff, following which Soni has reported, that these daily harassments stopped.
Subsequently, Soni Sori was shifted out of the Raipur Central Jail on 24 Jan 2013 and taken to Jadgalpur Central Jail.  Now, on 10 April 2013, another 2 member team of the NHRC visited Soni Sori in Jagdalpur Jail and inquired whether the mistreatment of which she had complained was continuing, and she has reportedly told them (as she has told us) that she is no longer being singled out for harassment on a daily basis inside the jail.
This is hardly a clean chit to the Chhattisgarh Government!  The findings of the Commission still remain – and the findings are that Soni Sori was being subjected to “traumatic ordeals and odious practices” inside the Raipur Central Jail. Just because the ill-treatment stopped after a reprimand doesn’t erase the fact that gross ill-treatment existed at all!
As has  been pointed out earlier — the NHRC is NOT looking into the complaint of sexual torture in police custody — that complaint is before the Supreme Court (and has been stuck there forever).  To my knowledge, the complaint of this unnecessary “psychiatric evaluation” has also not been made before the NHRC (since the focus was on getting the NCW to move). So the NHRC has validated the limited complaint that was before it — of mistreatment inside Raipur Jail –and has NOT given the govt a clean chit.  This would be like giving a wife-beater a clean chit for every day that he does not beat his wife.
[That the NHRC has not done more — like take punitive action against jail staff, order compensation for Soni Sori etc. — are of course issues that still need to be taken up with the NHRC.]


Two views of the crowd in Chhattisgarh’s jails

Ashutosh Bhardwaj : Jagdalpur, Mon Apr 08 2013, Tehelka
FPTribals of a Bastar village in a rally for prisoners’ rights.

Chhattisgarh‘s jails remain among the country’s most crowded, a finding that comes amid allegations from Maoists and activists that the government is unnecessarily keeping Bastar tribals prisoner after having promised to release them. The government, for its part, has denied it ever made such a promise, and stressed any decision on release is the prerogative of courts.For every 100 prisoners it has the capacity to accommodate, Chhattisgarh actually has 256, according to the latest National Crime Records Bureau figures (till 2011). This is called occupancy rate. Chhattisgarh’s rate has gone up from 237 in 2010, then the highest for the country. Its 256 for 2011 puts it behind only Andaman & Nicobar Islands (500) and Lakshadweep (362), both of which have few prisons.

Maoists last week organised a “prisoners’ rights week” by tribals in interior villages of Bastar, accusing the government of going back on an agreement to expedite the release of their comrades and innocent villagers in exchange for Sukma collector Alex Paul Menon’s freedom nearly a year ago.

The government set up a “high-powered committee to review all cases” in which investigation and prosecution was pending. In the year since, the only release has been of Raipur-based Raja Dhruva, 22, on May 9, 2012. He was accused of violating the Excise Act.

“We never promised to release anyone. The agreement was to review pending cases,” says government spokesperson N Baijendra Kumar. “The committee has met many times, made many recommendations. These are in courts; they have to decide.”

DGP Ramniwas dismissed the Maoist allegations as propaganda and said the committee has recommended the release of over 60 undertrials and “it is for the courts to decide”. The government did refrain from opposing the bail of some top Maoist leaders whose release had been demanded. The bail pleas were, however, rejected in court.

In a state that topped Maoist-related violence in the last decade, and one with a large tribal population, most inmates lodged in Bastar jails under Maoist cases are indeed tribals.

In Jagdalpur Central Jail, of 546 prisoners accused of being Maoists or Maoist supporters, 512 are tribals, 53 of them women. This is according to the response to an RTI application by activist Swami Agnivesh. In Dantewada jail, the response said, 372 tribals are among 377 prisoners being held under such cases. In Kanker jail, tribals account for 134 out of 144.

Many such cases end in acquittal for lack of evidence. All 10 tribals accused in the Tadmetla incident, in which 76 cops had been killed in 2010, were acquitted recently. Soni Sori, accused of being a Maoist supporter, was acquitted in four of seven cases.

Activist Himanshu Kumar alleges “a systematic elimination of tribals” by booking them under false charges. Prison officials say the high tribal count is natural. “Maoists recruit their lower level members, Dalam and Sangham, from locals, mostly tribals. It’s the top Maoist leaders who are exploiting innocent tribals,” DG (Jail) Giridhari Nayak says.

The highest number of undertrials booked on Maoist-related charges are in Jagdalpur jail. How its 581 convicts (total inmates 1,638; capacity 629) are treated is the subject of another debate. The department terms it the “industrial jail” for the goods it produces; Maoists claim tribal convicts are forced to “work like cattle”.

The jail promotes weaving, carpentry, and metal and woodwork, the daily wages being Rs 15 for skilled labour and Rs 12 for unskilled. In 2011, its products were worth Rs 87 lakh. “Tihar jail with 5,000 convicts registered production of Rs 4 crore. If you consider production per convict, my jail will rank among the best in the country,” says superintendent Rajendra Gaikwad.

“It has become a sort of industrial jail. They can be absorbed in the society after their release,” says DG Nayak.

In a March 23 statement, Maoist leader Ganesh Uike said, “Jail officers make prisoners work as bonded labourers… several do not work, but their accounts get credited and the money goes to officers.” The department says Rs 75 lakh was given in 2011, half of which went to the families of their victims.

Arun Sarkar, 44, convicted of murdering his wife, is the jail accountant. “I learnt typing and computers here,” he says. Lingaram Kodapi, an accused in Essar-Maoist payoff case, too is lodged here. In letters he has written from jail, and which have surfaced, he has alleged torture by jail officials.


#Chhattisgarh – 1067 inmates branded as ‘ ALLEGED MAOISTS”, languish in prisons #RTI

Unite Under Maoism!

Jostling for justice

Hundreds of undertrials languish in overcrowded south Chhattisgarh prisons even as their trial proceeds sluggishly, says an RTI reply

With most information regarding prisons closely guarded in the country, in conflict zones — some north-eastern States, Kashmir or Chhattisgarh — it is even more so. The only information about prisons that percolates to public space is about how inmates are becoming master painters, singers or dance drama designers. While those endeavours are to be lauded, the standard of life in smaller prisons, which are not located in the national capital or megacities but in districts and sub-divisions, rarely gets attention.

In this scenario, the role of prison reforms committees becomes important in highlighting issues of prisons in smaller states and districts, but more often than not, their recommendations never see light of day. For example, the All India Committee on Prison Reform (1980-83) produced one comprehensive study cum recommendation on how to improve quality of life in Indian prisons. Two main focuses of the report were to address overcrowding and speedy trial. However, nothing happened. Several other committees were also formed at the regional level in the last 30 years by various state governments to initiate prison reforms and speedy trial albeit without any substantial result. The relatively new State of Chhattisgarh has never instituted any formal study of its prisons. It is also yet to implement recommendations of the Prison Reform Committee.

A 2009 study by National Human Rights Commission shows that Chhattisgarh prisons accommodate three times more than their capacity. However, a prison wise break up of inmates is not available.

Recently, an RTI filed by activist Swami Agnivesh has revealed that while there is space for 844 inmates, the three prisons of Kanker, Jagdalpur and Dantewada (all in south Chhattisgarh) cumulatively accommodate 1067 inmates who are undertrials and are referred to as “alleged Maoists” or “Maoist supporters”, according to the RTI reply. “We only have figures of those arrested as alleged Maoists. If the sum total of general undertrials and the convicts are added to this category, then the prisons are three times more crowded,” Swami Agnivesh told The Hindu.

The number of “alleged Maoists” or “Maoist supporters” in Kanker prison is 144 whereas it has space only for 65. Similarly, while Dantewada prison can accommodate 150, it actually has 377 undertrials as inmates. Jagdalpur prison has lesser number of alleged Maoists undertrials compared to the available space for the inmates. It can house 629 inmates but has 546 alleged Maoist undertrials. “Please add total number of prison inmates to the alleged Maoist undertrials and you will have more than three times overcrowding in Dantewada as well,” Swami Agnivesh added.

The RTI has also revealed that out of these 1067 undertrials, 1018 are tribals. Swami Agnivesh said that in majority cases, the tribals could not appoint a lawyer or even manage to find out about the case details and that “confines them in prison for ages”. “There are several people in prison for more than five years as undertrials. Their cases are not moving at all. This is atrocious,” he added.

The RTI record shows nine tribals are languishing in Jagdalpur prison for more than five years, whereas details regarding ‘inmate’s number of years in prison’ have not been disclosed by the authorities of Dantewada and Kanker.

Jagdalpur prison authorities were more forthright in disseminating information like the number of women arrested as alleged Maoist sympathisers or the number of arrests under special security act Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). The number of women inmates in Jagdalpur is 53 and 128 undertrials are detained under UAPA, the RTI reply said. Besides, Jagdalpur prison authorities also shared that eight undertrials have not appeared in court “for the last one year”. While the Kanker authorities have disclosed that there are six women in prison custody as undertrials, other information regarding number of inmates detained under UAPA or inmate’s cumulative years in prison are not disclosed by either Kanker or Dantewada authorities.

Swami Agnivesh claimed that in the entire Maoist belt of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa, thousands of tribals are languishing in prisons as undertrials. He demanded appointment of fast track courts for speedy disposal of these cases, adequate compensation for the innocents and punishment of officials who framed the tribals.

The State’s Tribal Affairs Minister Kedar Kashyap could not be reached on phone for comments.

A few years after the launch of the now-illegal anti-Maoist movement Salwa Judum, both the opposition Congress and the CPI started claiming that their members are indiscriminately arrested in south Chhattisgarh as alleged Maoists. However, some of the BJP old hands have also been put behind bars for allegedly associating with the rebels. The CPI is now planning a campaign to pressurise the government to release the political activists. A recent judgement of the Bombay High Court that says “mere membership of a banned organization will not incriminate a person unless he resorts to violence” has also acted as a shot in the arm of the activists.

#India- Adivasis / Tribals march for autonomy- #Indigenous

The water, forest and land rights of the Adivasis and a permanent solution to the continuing violence in the region are the major issues behind the 300-kilometer foot march

Anil Mishra, Tehelka

March 13, 2013

Public meeting of the Adivasi Mahasabha

In the afternoon heat, thousands of Adivasis holding red flags are leading a foot march in the naxal dominated areas of Bastar. It is alleged that the constitutional system has collapsed, the government is not ready to accept the Supreme Court’s orders, there is violation of the Fifth Schedule and the PESA Act, the government along with private companies wants to rob the natural resources of this region and that the very existence of the Adivasis is in danger. To tackle this situation, it is important to notify Bastar as an autonomous district under the Sixth Schedule of the constitution. Intellectuals from around the world are supporting this demand of the Adivasis. A glimpse of this support was seen on 9th March in Dantewada, when Professor Nandini Sunder, High Court lawyer Sudha Bharapdwaj, Smiti Sharma, Neelabh Dubey, six research scholars from Azim Premji University, Shahana Mangesh from National Law University Bengaluru, members of the Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan, SKMS general secretary Rajesh Sandhu and Professor Justin Podar from York University in Canada, members of Chhattisgarh Swabhiman Manch and around two dozen representatives from various organisations from around the world reached there.

The foot march which started under the banner of the CPI and the Adivasi Mahasabha, started in Konta on 1st March and will end on 15th March in Jagdalpur. Adivasis from remote areas are coming to take part in the march organised under the leadership of Manish Kunjum, former MLA of the CPI and National President of the Adivasi Mahasabha. The water, forest and land rights of the Adivasis and a permanent solution to the continuing violence in the region are the major issues behind this 300-kilometer foot march, although the list of demands is quite long. These include demands for cancellation of all the MOUs signed with the mining and power companies in Bastar, to immediately stop the work on the Polavaram, Bodhghat and Telavarti power projects, removal of the Central Security Forces from Bastar and removal of the Army training centre, judicial enquiry into the cases of massacre including the one at Sarkeguda and the filing of FIR’s against the accused. There is also an emphasis on demands to bring NDMC headquarters to Bastar, to stop non – Adivasis from occupying Adivasi land, to stop forced acquisition of village land for police line and helipad and to enable the committee, formed after the release of the Sukma Collector, for the release of thousands of innocent Adivasis from jail.

On 9th March, sociologist Nandini Sunder, speaking before thousands of Adivasis, accused the state government of violating the orders of the Supreme Court. She said that on Salwa Judum the Supreme Court had ordered that the recruitment of the SPO’s be cancelled and their guns taken back but the government acted in an opposite manner. The SPO’s were made a part of the auxiliary force, their salaries were increased and they were given more advanced weapons. The Supreme Court had also ordered for FIR’s to be registered in cases of violence during Salwa Judum, rehabilitation of the villagers, and compensation for Adivasis affected by the violence but the government has not followed any of its orders. The forces were not removed from the schools and the government continued to lie before the Supreme Court in this case. Now we have filed a case of contempt of court but the state government has been successful in delaying the matter on some pretext or the other. She said that according to the census figures it is clear that the population of the Adivasis is decreasing in Dantewada, Bijapur and Sarguja. Adivasis are being killed, people are being forced to migrate and those who stayed back in the villages are so petrified that they scared to even raise a family. The women have fought bravely in Bastar but the government is with the rapists. Only recently three girls who were raped during the Salwa Judum were forced to take back the case under the pressure of the police. The constitutional system has collapsed here. The Sixth Schedule is the only alternative.

Former Central Minister Arvind Netam and general secretary of the CPI, Atul Anjaan, also supported the demands of the Adivasis in the gathering.

In a conversation with TEHELKA, Manish Kunjam, President of the Adivasi Mahasabha and leader of the foot march, said that this is a fight for the rights of the Adivasis and they would achieve it. Given below are some excerpts from the conversation.

What would you achieve from this foot march?

We are fighting for the water, forest and land rights of the Adivasis. We stopped Tata from coming to Bastar, fought against ESSAR. We put a stop to Salwa Judum by leading a struggle against them. The question is, how long would we have to fight? Now we need permanent solutions to the problems. To have a rule of law we need the Sixth Schedule in Bastar.

But the Fifth Schedule is already there, so why do we need the Sixth Schedule?

The Fifth Schedule is not being implemented. In scheduled areas notified under the Fifth Schedule (where the tribals are entitled to special rights to the land as well as forests and mineral resources) the land of the Adivasis are being acquired for private companies, without the Gram Sabha’s permission. The national as well as international companies are interested in the natural resources of Bastar and the government is not even ready to accept the orders of the Supreme Court. The constitutional system has collapsed over here; therefore autonomy is the only solution.

What is the guarantee of the Sixth Schedule’s compliance?

For years, the Adivasi’s have tolerated exploitation and cruelty. Now we want autonomy. If there is autonomy, the Adivasis will be able to take their own decisions. The PESA Act would be implemented and the Adivasis would have rights over their water, forests and land. This is also necessary to tackle the violence and armed revolution in Bastar.

But the non-Adivasis of Bastar remain apprehensive about the Sixth Schedule.

All these years the Adivasis have not demanded anything, now they want autonomy to save their land, art, culture and their very existence. What is wrong in this? This would not harm the non – Adivasis of Bastar. The educated people should be better informed about the Sixth Schedule.

It is alleged that the state government is not following the orders of the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court orders on Salwa Judum are not being implemented. The Judum movement was started by the Center and the state government, therefore who would implement the orders that came against it. Both the national as well as international companies are coming to rob Bastar. All this is a conspiracy to give them the Adivasi land.


Chhattisgarh Court acquits all 10 accused in #Dantewada massacre #goodnews

Kartam Joga, nine other tribals, were in prison since 2010 in charges of being involved in the Naxal ambush in which 76 CRPF jawans were killed in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh

January 8, 2013

File photo of the coffins of the 76 CRPF jawans in Jagdalpur. Photo: Shailendra Pandey

Ten tribal men, accused of killing 76 CRPF troops in Chhattisgarh three years back, have been acquitted for want of evidence. Kartam Joga, the petitioner against Salwa Judum in the Supreme Court, and zila panchayat member of CPI from Konta, has been acquitted by the Dantewada district court along with nine other accused. After Kartam Joga’s release, CPI took out a victory parade at their Sukma district headquarters under the leadership of Manish Kunjam.

Both CPI and Joga’s relatives have been saying all along that the police action was retaliation. TEHELKA had inquired into the matter after Joga’s arrest (Is CPI the next target in Bastar, Tehelka Vol 7, Issue 40, October 2010). The police had produced 43 witnesses in court. But ADJ Anita Dehriya found no substance in the police theory that the accused had killed the CRPF  jawans and looted their weapons. In Tadmetla case, the police had filed chargesheet against 92 people, 82 of the accused are yet to be arrested.

Along with Kartam Joga, Poyam Ganga, Podiyam Hidma, Kawari Budra, Duro Joga, Barse Lakhma, Madkam Ganga, Rajesh Nayak, and Madwi Dula have been in jail since September 2010. During the last two and a half years, the prosecution has not been able to prove a single charge. Joga’s lawyer Ashok Jain told TEHELKA that besides Tadmetla, the police have also filed cases against the accused of being involved in other cases of  naxal violence.  Joga had already been acquitted of other charges earlier.

Joga had filed a case against Salwa Judum in the Supreme Court. It is believed such cases were filed against them in retaliation. Meanwhile, CPI leader Manish Kunjam has hailed the courts decision as victory of jus


Soni Sori’s- Letter to her Lawyer – Feb 23rd ( Audio Hindi and English)

सुप्रीम कोर्ट न्यायलय वकील सर जी के नाम पर खत (२३/०२/२०१२)

वकील सर रायपुर रखने के बजाय हमें दिल्ली में रखना था, रायपुर आने के बाद मेरी परेशानियां बढते ही जा रहा है| मुझे अब तक दवाई की उपलब्ध नहीं किया | दर्द की तकलीफ को व्यक्त करते हुए बताती हूँ तो कहते हैं तुम प्रशासन तौर से आई हो और नक्सली महिला कहकर लिखित देकर मानसिक तनाव दिया जाता है| मुझे दवाई नहीं दिया जा रहा है जिससे मेरा अंदरूनी दर्द बढते जा रहा है| ये सब बाते न्यायालय स्थानीय कोर्ट में भी कहा था न्यायालय भी मेरी समस्या को हल करने के बजाय ये कहकर टाल दिया दिया कि तुम्हारा केस सुप्रीम कोर्ट न्यायालय में चल रहा है| जो कुछ भी करेगा सुप्रीम कोर्ट न्यायालय करेगा| वकील सर हमे पूरा विश्वास है कि सुप्रीम कोर्ट न्यायालय अत्याचार से पीड़ित महिला का न्याय अवश्य करेगा| पर कुछ तकलीफों को स्थनीय कोर्ट न्यायालय भी तो कर सकता है| लेकिन नहीं जान बुझकर सभी लोग हमें परेशान करके रखना चाहते हैं| पहले भी कहा था अब भी कह रही हूँ| मैं सुरक्षित नहीं हूँ ना ही महसूस कर सकती हूँ| मुझपर बहुत ही अन्याय कर रहे हैं| ये लोग हमे जीने नहीं देंगे| ये तो निश्चित है कि एक न एक दिन हमे मरना ही है| थोडा बहुत जीवन बचा है अपने बच्चों के नजदीक रहना चाहती हूँ| ताकि बच्चों से बीच-बीच में मिल सकू ! ये जीवन का क्या भरोसा कब क्या हो जाये इसलिय जगदलपुर वापस करवाइएगा

वकील सर| आप मानो या ना मानो छत्तीसगढ़ सरकार हमे मौत देगी ही! क्योंकि मैं जिस स्थिति से गुजर रही हूँ , मैं ही जानती हूँ| काश हम दिल्ली में रहकर लड़ते तो बिल्कुल सुरक्षित रहते| ये सब आदिवासियों के भाग्य में कहाँ| हम आदिवासियों के नसीब में तो अत्याचार जुल्म सहकर मरना है मरना जरूरी है| हम आदिवासी सरकार के लिये एक ऐसी विजनेस हैं| जितना हम आदिवासियों पर छत्तीसगढ़ सरकार शोषण जुल्म अत्याचार प्रताड़ना महिलाओं पर बलात्कार बेरहमी के साथ नंगा करेगा उतना ही सरकार फायदे में रहेगा| ये सबके लिये ही करोड़ो-अरबों रूपये आते हैं| वकील सर यदि ये सब खत्म होने पर शांति आने पर सरकार में बैठे नेता लोग रोड पर भीख मांगते नजर आयेंगे इसलिये ये सब खत्म करने के बजाय बढ़ावा दे रहे हैं बढा रहे हैं| ऐसी स्थिति में हम जैसे लोगों को कैसे सरकार जिन्दा रख सकती है|

वकील सर मुझपर मेरे अपने आदिवासी भाई-बहन, पिता पर बहुत अधिक अन्याय हो रहा है देख रही हूँ सह रही हूँ| ये सब अत्याचार पर सोचने के लिये ऐसा कदम उठाने के लिये छत्तीसगढ़ सरकार ने हमे मजबूर कर दिया जिससे अब हम भूख हड़ताल कर रहे हैं| जेल में हो या न्यायालय हो या सरकार प्रशासन, हम आदिवासियों की तकलीफों को क्यों नहीं समझता ? वकील सर मेरी इलाज की बात होती है तो इलाज हम दिल्ली में करवाएंगे| क्योंकि पिछले बार जो तकलीफ उठाये हैं वो बार-बार हम नही उठा सकते इससे अच्छा इलाज ना ही हो| पिछले बार इलाज के नाम पर मानसिक तनाव से ग्रस्त किये थे| रायपुर में तडप-तडपकर मरने के लिये ना छोड़ें एक बार आपलोग हमसे मिलने आइयेगा| दीदी और कोई प्लीज सर हम मिलना चाहते हैं| हम इस जगह पर रह नहीं सकते| स्थान्तरण हो|
स्व हस्ताक्षरित
श्रीमती सोनी (सोढ़ी)

Audio Soni Sori Letter in Hindi

Letter to Supreme Court Advocate Sir
Advocate sir,
I should have been kept in Delhi instead of Raipur. My troubles have increased ever since I was moved to Raipur. I have not even been provided with medicines. When I express my complaint of pain, they tell me that I have come through the administration, and they call me and write me down as a “Naxalite” woman, and this puts me under a lot of mental stress. I am not given my medicines, due to which my internal pains have been increasing. I have told the local court all this, but instead of solving my problem, the local court is avoiding it by saying that since my case is with the Supreme Court, whatever will be done here will be done by the Supreme Court.
Sir, I have complete faith that the Supreme Court will bring justice to a woman who has suffered torture. However, the local courts also have the ability to resolve some problems. But no! All of these people deliberately want to give me trouble. I am not safe here – I can feel that I am unsafe. I am suffering grave injustice and these people will not let me live. It is certain that I have to die some day or the other. Whatever little life I have left, I want to be close to my children, so that I can meet them from time to time. How can one trust this life – who knows what will happen next? So please get me moved back to Jagdalpur.
Sir, whether you believe it or not, the Chhattisgarh government will definitely award me with death. Only I know what I am undergoing. If only I could have stayed in Delhi while fighting this out, I would have been completely safe. But such is not the fate of adivasis! We, adivasis, are only fated to suffer atrocities and die; dying is necessary. We, adivasis, are a business for the government. The more the Chhattisgarh government will exploit us, oppress us, commit atrocities against us, torture us, rape our women, mercilessly strip us naked, the more the government will profit. It is for this reason alone that tens of billions of rupees come. Sir, if all this ends and there is peace, then the leaders who are now in the government will be seen begging on the streets. This is why, instead of ending this, they are encouraging this, enlarging this. In such a situation, how can the government let our people live?
Advocate sir, there is a lot of injustice happening to me, to my adivasi brother, sister, father… I am seeing this, I am suffering this. The Chhattisgarh government is forcing us to think about all these atrocities, into taking these steps, which is why I am now on a hunger strike. Whether inside the jail, or before the court – why does the government/ administration not listen to the problems of us adivasis? Sir, there is talk of my medical treatment – I want my medical treatment to be conducted in Delhi. The problems I have faced last time – I cannot bear them again and again. Rather, it would be better not to have any treatment at all. Last time, I was put under so much mental tension at the pretext of being given treatment. Please do not leave me to suffer and die in Raipur – please come to meet me once. I want to meet didi or someone else. I cannot stay in this place any longer. Please get me transferred.
Smt. Soni Sori

Audio Soni Sori Letter in English


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November 2021
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