#Chhattisgarh-Schooled In Rebellion, An Imperilled Generation


In Bastar’s dark interiors, the Naxals are running schools for children, teaching them to be wary of the government

2013-03-09 , Issue 10 Volume 10

Catch ’em young Children at a school run by Naxals in Jappemarka village, Bijapur district

0N 29 DECEMBER last year, joint forces comprising the CRPF and state police busted a Naxal training camp during a combing operation in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district, 450 km to the south of Chhattisgarh’s capital city Raipur. TEHELKA visited Jappemarka village where the encounter had taken place and found that besides training camps, the Naxals were also running schools for children in the densely forested region.

It takes a two-day trek through forest trails, after crossing the Bailadila hills — known for the National Mineral Development Corporation’s iron ore mines and forming the border between Dantewada and Bijapur districts — to reach this village. In a small clearing amid the woods just outside the village, a group of children greet TEHELKA with shouts of “Lal Salaam”, reminding us that we are in Naxal country. They are students of an Ashram Shala (residential school) run by the Naxals for 30-odd children from the nearby half-a-dozen villages.

Then the children sing a song in Gondi, the local tribal language. The song is on “the importance of education in making a revolution”, we are told. This is a region where the Naxals have set up what they call the Janatana Sarkar, or “people’s government”.

Motiram, a student at the Jappemarka Ashram Shala, says he wants to become a teacher in a Naxal school. Motiram doesn’t know the national anthem, but he knows how to hide if the police suddenly show up. But his ‘teacher’ Sukhlal, who was once a member of a Naxal dalam (armed squad), claims the children are not trained in warfare. “They are only given general physical education like in government- run schools,” he says. “After the Salwa Judum (an anti-Naxal campaign) started, the government has closed down all schools in this area. As the villages here are believed to be Naxal-dominated, these children cannot go to schools elsewhere. The Naxal-run schools are their only means of getting education.”

The children are taught from textbooks prepared in Gondi by the ‘education department’ of the Janatana Sarkar, besides the same Hindi textbooks that are used in government schools in Chhattisgarh. Even the school uniform is similar.

Besides Sukhlal, the Jappemarka school has one more teacher and two cooks, who are paid Rs 1,000 every month. The school offers education till Class V. So what will the children do after that? “They can work for the Janatana Sarkar, teach in the Naxal-run schools or become village healthcare workers,” says Sukhlal, who studied till Class V at the government school at Mirtur, 10 km away. The exact locations of the Naxal-run schools are kept secret from ‘outsiders’ as top Naxal leaders visit them occasionally.

When the police raided Jappemarka village on 29 December last year, Sonu, a ‘Class III student’ at the Ashram, hailing from nearby Bechapal village, could not flee into the forests with the others. He says the police thrashed him and let him go only after he said he studied in the government school at Mirtur. Though the Ashram Shala was set on fire during the raid, the children say it is being rebuilt again at another “secret” location.

DURING THE two-day trek to Jappemarka, TEHELKA was accompanied by Mohan, the commander of the Bhansi local guerrilla squad. Mohan was a Class V student at the Mirtur government school in 2005 when Salwa Judum started operations in the area. He says atrocities by the Judum forced him to join the Naxals. Mohan showed us several spots where pressure bombs and booby traps had been planted. On receiving information of police presence, the pressure bombs are wired and the wooden covers removed from the trap holes.

Life in these villages is not easy. The villagers often have to spend the nights in the forests to evade police raids. Ramesh, a resident of Udepal village, says the monsoon months are the most difficult, when the tribals cannot even light a fire to ward off wild animals.

In Udepal, TEHELKA also met Dashru Mandavi, who says he once aspired to become a government officer. In 2005, after completing his primary education from Mirtur, he enrolled in the government-run residential school at Gangalur for further studies.

Salwa Judum was at its height at the time. One evening, some armed policemen from Gangalur police station came to the school, asked him if he was the dada (Naxal) from Udepal, and then took him away. Later in the night, Dashru told the guard at the police station that he wanted to use the toilet and managed to slip away. The police came to Udepal looking for him, but he had already escaped into the nearby forests.

Dashru says he has not joined the Naxals, but one of his brothers, Sukuram, was shot dead in Udepal in 2006, and two years later, three more of his brothers were arrested. Two of them, Misra Ram and Mangu, died in custody, Dashru alleges, while the third, Bugra, is still in the jail. Dashru claims the police did not even hand over Mangu’s body to the family.

Mahendra Karma, a senior leader of the Congress who is known as the founder of the Salwa Judum, told TEHELKA in Dantewada that if the police have indeed destroyed the Naxal-run school in Jappemarka, it was the right thing to do. “The Naxals have destroyed hundreds of government schools.”

letters@tehelka.com

– See more at: http://tehelka.com/schooled-in-rebellion-an-imperilled-generation/#sthash.1up6r0qH.dpuf

 

Karnataka mining scam may have cost exchequer Rs 50,000 crore #Indiashining


 

NEW DELHI: The scale of the Karnataka mining scam seems to be getting bigger with the estimates of an expert committee suggesting that the alleged robber barons who engaged in illicit mining may have cheated the state of Rs 50,000 crore in taxes and other levies.

The mining syndicate which thrived across regimes claimed that it was taking out just 50 million tonnes of iron ore every year whereas inspections showed that in reality, another 30-40 million tonnes of ore was illegally mined and siphoned off.

Considering that the recent e-auction for just 26.58 million tonnes brought in Rs 1,496 in various levies, the loss to the state exchequer works out to Rs 7,000 crore every year over the last one decade.

The Supreme Court’s environment panel, Central Empowered Committee (CEC), submitted its report to a bench of Justices Aftab Alam, K S Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar on Thursday and said till July 31, 26.58 million tonnes of iron ore was sold through e-auction for Rs 6,416 crore.

“In addition to the sale price, about Rs 1,496 crore has been recovered and paid by the monitoring committee to the government — Rs 606.24 crore as royalty, Rs 594.06 crore as forest development charges, Rs 270.65 crore as VAT and Rs 25.11 crore as CST,” said the report submitted to the court by CEC’s member secretary M K Jiwrajika.

CEC sources said if the private lease holders had sold the iron ore for Rs 6,416 crore, then they would have paid income tax of over Rs 2,100 crore to the government. So, along with the various levies, the government would have got almost Rs 3,600 crore from the entire transaction.

Before the apex court banned mining completely, private lease holders had declared sale of 50 million tonnes of iron ore per year on an average and inspection showed that another 30-40 million tonnes of ore was illegally mined and siphoned off.

If sale of the total 80-90 million tonnes of iron ore was shown as legal by the private parties every year, then they would have earned around Rs 18,000 crore, over which income tax would have been Rs 6,000 crore. In addition, the government would have got nearly Rs 1,500 crore as royalty, FDC, VAT and CST. This means the government would have got around Rs 7,500 crore every year. But what the government actually got was only around Rs 500 crore from the private parties.

Thus, an estimated loss of Rs 7,000 crore to the exchequer per year happened for nearly a decade and CEC sources said the entire illegal extraction of iron ore and under-reporting of sale and extraction could have cost the exchequer Rs 50,000 crore.

The bench asked the Karnataka government to file its response to the CEC report after amicus curiae Shyam Divan and A D N Rao informed the court that the reclamation and rehabilitation plan for 16 mines had been prepared. But the bench insisted that it would permit resumption of mining in these mines only after the rehabilitation plan was implemented on the ground.

To make available adequate quantity of iron ore for iron and steel plants dependent on the ore extracted from Bellary-Hospet, Tumkur and Chitradurga districts, the bench sought an update from NMDC, which alone has been allowed by the court to undertake limited mining operations.

Senior advocate Arvind Datar, appearing for NMDC, said the PSU had the capability to extract 10 lakh tonnes of iron ore but it faced problems in transporting the extracted mineral and lack of assured long term demand.

The Karnataka Iron and Steel Manufacturers Association and Federation of Indian Mineral Industries through senior advocates C S Vaidyanathan and T S Andhyarujina said their clients were ready to lift the mineral. The bench asked representatives of industry associations, ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) and NMDC to sit with the CEC on Monday to chalk out long-term e-auction scheme and place it before the court on August 17.

dhananjay.mahapatra@timesgroup.com

 

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