A Stick Called 124(A) The State finds a handy tool in a colonial law to quell dissent


Outlokk-National Magazine | Jul 02, 2012

 


Sentenced Seema and her husband Vijay being taken to jail
sedition law: misuse

Panini Anand, Debarshi Dasgupta

Wrong Arm Of The Law
Why ‘sedition’ rings hollow in India 2012

The law Section 124(A) of the Indian Penal Code, 1870; non-bailable offence

The definition Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the government established by law in India

The accusers Other than the State, even individuals are free to file charges

The punishment Imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.

The misuse While the Supreme Court has specifically laid down that the provisions of section 124(A) are only made out where there is a tendency to public disorder by use of violence or incitement to violence, the clause has been grossly misused. While convictions are rare, the long and tortuous legal process is seen as a deterrent to others.

The victims The law is being used to punish fierce critics of the government, including political
dissenters, human rights activists and journalists

Global status

UK abolished sedition laws in 2010
New Zealand repealed it in 2008

Prakash Ram, a farmer from a village near Haldwani in Uttarakhand, had never heard of Mao Tse Tung. Ironically enough, his first lesson on Chairman Mao and his ideology came not from some gun-toting guerrilla but the Uttarakhand police. Accusing him of being a Maoist, they arrested him oncharges of sedition on August 30, 2004. It has taken eight years for the 28-year-old to be finally cleared of the taint, by the Rudrapur sessions court this month. “I spent two of the best years of my life behind bars (he was granted bail in 2006) and six more years in my legal battle for justice,” he says. “I may be free now but this arrest has spoilt my reputation and will make it difficult for me to get work. Who will pay for this? Will someone be held responsible?”

The dark days of Emergency, rung in 37 years ago this week, may have become a distant memory for some, but for many others, an Emergency-like situation is a recurring reality. Just as in 1975 and the year after, when the State suppressed dissent and abolished civil rights, the democratic republic of India continues to target disaffected voices and accuse of sedition anyone it sees as a threat.

Lost years Prakash Ram, a farmer from Haldwani, accused of being a Maoist. (Photograph by Tribhuvan Tiwari)

Rajinder Sachar, a retired chief justice of the Delhi High Court, thinks the situation today is actually worse. “In 1975,” he says, “the Emergency was more of a political game played by one political party but now everyone is restricted from speaking. One law after the other is passed, stopping one from speaking openly. A situation is being created where anybody can be declared anti-national. We are actually going through an undeclared Emergency.”

One of the latest victims of Section 124(A), a law that deals with sedition and which is a handy tool for the government to target trenchant critics, is Seema Azad and her husband Vishwa Vijay. A journalist couple from Allahabad, they had written fearlessly about corruption and illegal mining in Uttar Pradesh. Charged with sedition, the two were sentenced to life imprisonment and a fine of Rs 70,000 by a sessions court in Allahabad on June 8.

Seema and Vijay were arrested in February 2010 at the Allahabad railway station on their return from New Delhi. They were accused of being members of the banned CPI (Maoist) group simply because the police deemed the literature recovered from them to be “anti-national”. Their advocate Ravi Kiran Jain argues that this verdict ignores the observations the two-judge bench of the Supreme Court made in 2011 while hearing the bail plea of Dr Binayak Sen, who too was charged with sedition. “If someone has the autobiography of Gandhi at his home, will he be called a Gandhian,” the apex court had famously asked the prosecution lawyer. “Even in this case,” says Jain, “Seema and her husband were simply in possession of some literature on Maoism. This does not make them Maoists.” The advocate now plans to file an appeal on behalf of the duo in the Allahabad High Court.

 

Mission aborted Salem’s Piyush Sethia

Other than Dr Sen and the Allahabad couple, there were at least six other high-profile cases involving sedition in 2010. They include Arundhati Roy, who was booked under Section 124(A) for making a speech supporting azadi in Kashmir, and Salem-based environmental activist Piyush Sethia, who was accused of sedition for disrupting a Republic Day ceremony in Salem in 2010 by attempting to distribute a controversial anti-mining leaflet. In fact, things took on a farcical turn when Srinagar-based lecturer Noor Mohammed Bhatt was slapped with the sedition charge in December the same year for including a question in an English paper asking if stone-pelters were the real heroes and asking students to translate from Urdu to English a passage that read, “Kashmiri blood is being spilled like water, Kashmiri children are being killed by police and Kashmiri women are being showered with bullets.”

There is no official record of the total number of cases involving sedition, but the sudden spurt in such cases has generated much concern. Civil rights groups have launched a nationwide campaign to have the law repealed. Says veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar, who was in jail during the Emergency, “The sedition law is a weapon in the hand of the State which evokes doubts, suspicion and hatred in the mind of the people against whom the charges are made. Such an undemocratic and anti-people law must be repealed immediately. In fact, it should have been done many years back.” Most of these cases (see Memories of Another Day) have targeted people who have fearlessly spoken up for the rights of the marginalised, especially the Dalits and tribals.

It was for this reason that Sudhir Dhawale, a Dalit rights activist from Mumbai, was picked up by the Maharashtra police from Wardha in January last year for being a “Naxal supporter”. Still lodged in a Nagpur jail, many speculate the real reason he was picked up was his writings and activities that helped mobilise Dalits for their rights. Like him, Gananath Patra, the 73-year-old convenor of Chasi Muliya Adivasi Sangh in Narayanpatna in Orissa, too was charged with sedition and put behind bars in January 2010. He was released on bail earlier this month due to poor health but on the condition that he must not engage in any activism. He had earlier helped tribals in and around Narayanpatna take back around 10,000 acres of land that had been forcefully acquired from them.

Of course, it is activism in areas under the grip of left-wing extremism that the government is extremely sensitive about. Sethia, the Salem-based activist, found himself in the crosshairs precisely for this. Carrying pamphlets criticising Operation Green Hunt, he was set to spread his message cycling all the way to Sivaganga, the constituency Union home minister P. Chidambaram represents. However, the Tamil Nadu police arrested him in Salem itself, even before he could distribute the pamphlets at the R-Day ceremony there. Out on bail since February 2010, the sedition charges still hold. The real cause for his arrest though, Sethia believes, is his fight against illegal mining in the region. He was the main litigant in a case in the Madras High Court that resulted in the closure of a local mining unit that belonged to Vedanta. Funnily enough, there has not been a single hearing in Sethia’s case so far. “Either they should drop the charges, or they should go ahead with the case and finish it off. It is a sort of leash on my activities,” says Sethia, whose questioning gaze encompasses areas like the Forests Rights Act and water pollution and privatisation.

The nuclear flashpoint Koodankulam agitators are viewed with suspicion

Nuclear energy is another area that the government, including at the state level, has begun to get touchy about. The slightest whiff of opposition is promptly dismissed as anti-national. Little wonder then that as many as 3,500 protesters were charged with sedition in the aftermath of the Koodankulam protests in Tamil Nadu, where locals were agitating against the construction of a nuclear power plant. Says V. Suresh, an advocate at the Madras High Court and someone who has spent time with the locals, “While laws are meant to protect the people, in this case, the sedition law has been clearly misused by the government to further its interests.”

Anand Swaroop Verma, Delhi-based editor of monthly journal Samkaleen Teesri Duniya, expresses concern at a different level. This crackdown by the State, he says, has been met with only rare instances of media criticism and scrutiny. He attributes this to a media cooption strategy which ensures reporting of sedition cases is largely favourable towards the government. “Six years back, the PM, in a conference on internal security with CMs, had urged them to coopt the media and get them to play a more positive role in the fight against terrorism,” he adds. The media, of course, often colludes wilfully.

Even when filed on flimsy grounds, the legal hassles and harassment the sedition charge involves serve as a deterrent to others, forced as they are to think twice before taking on the might of the State. Ask E. Rati Rao, vice president of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties in Karnataka. While she was booked under sedition for asking uncomfortable questions on encounter deaths in the Malanadu area in October 2007, the case against her was dismissed in September 2010 after the police failed to file a chargesheet. “All they wanted to do was just terrorise me, and by doing so, terrorise others,” she says. “This sedition law and democracy do not go together. It is leading the State towards fascism.”

For a Congress-led government that draws its inspiration and legacy from Jawaharlal Nehru, it would do well to act on what the country’s first prime minister had to say on the sedition clause in a parliamentary debate in 1951 on the First Amendment to the Constitution. “Now so far I am concerned that particular section (124-A) is highly objectionable and obnoxious and it should have no place both for practical and historical reasons…the sooner we get rid of it the better.”

***

Memories Of Another Day

How a repressive 19th-century law is being indiscriminately unleashed on citizens fighting for the rights of their fellow citizens

  • Jogendra Chandra Bose The first case, in 1891, when the editor of Bangobasi was charged for criticising the British govt’s move to raise the age on consensual sex from 10 to 12, and for commenting on the negative economic impact of British colonialism
    Mahatma Gandhi Charged, along with Shankerlal Banker, the proprietor of Young India, for three articles in the weekly. Convicted in 1922.
    Balgangadhar Tilak The British govt alleges his speeches instigated the murder of two British officers. Convicted in 1897, 1905, 1916.
    Manoj Shinde Editor, Surat Saamna, charged in Aug ’06 for using “abusive words” against Narendra Modi in an editorial alleging administrative failure in tackling the Surat flood situation
    Kahturam Sunani Journalist, OTV, Charged in May 2007 in Sinapali, Orissa, for filing a report that Pahariya tribals were consuming ‘soft’ dolomite stones in Nuapada district due to acute hunger.
    Binayak Sen Doctor & Human Rights Activist. Charged in May 2007 in Raipur for allegedly helping courier messages to Maoist leaders. Sen had criticised the Chhattisgarh govt’s support to the vigilante group Salwa Judum.
    E. Rati Rao Resident Editor, Varthapatra, charged in Oct 2007 2010 in Mysore, Karnataka, for an article alleging encounter deaths in Karnataka.
    Prashant Rahi, Journalist, charged in Dec 2007 for allegedly possessing Naxal literature
    Bharat Desai Resident Editor, Times of India, Ahmedabad Gautam Mehta Photographer, Gujarat Samachar Charged in Jun 2008 for articles and photographs alleging links between the Ahmedabad Police Commissioner and the underworld
    Kirori Singh Bainsla Gujjar community leader Charged in Jun 2008 in Bayana, Rajasthan, for leading an agitation demanding ST status for Gujjars
    Lenin Kumar Editor, Nishan, Charged in Dec 2008 in Bhubaneshwar for publishing a booklet on the Kandhamal riots entitled ‘Dharmanare Kandhamalre Raktonadhi’ (Kandhamal’s rivers of blood)
    Laxman Choudhury Journalist, Sambadh, Charged in Sep 2009 in Gajapati district, Orissa, for allegedly possessing Maoist literature. Choudhury had been writing about the involvement of local police in illegal drug trafficking.
    V. Gopalaswamy (Vaiko) Politician, MDMK, Charged in Dec 2009 in Chennai for allegedly
    making remarks against India’s sovereignty at a book launch function
    Piyush Sethia Environmentalist and Organic Farmer, charged in Jan 2010 in Salem, Tamil Nadu, for trying to distribute pamphlets during protest against Chhattisgarh govt’s support to Salwa Judum
    Niranjan Mahapatra, Avinash Kulkarni, Bharat Pawar, others Trade union leaders and social activists Gujarat police allege links with CPI (Maoist).
    Arundhati Roy, S.A.R. Geelani, Varavara Rao, Shuddhabrata Sengupta, others Private complaint in Nov 2010 in Delhi alleging their speeches on Kashmir in a seminar are anti-India
    Noor Mohammed Bhatt Lecturer, Gandhi Memorial College, Srinagar, in Dec 2010 for
    setting a question paper for English literature students on whether ‘stone pelters were the real heroes’.
    Sudhir Dhawale Dalit rights activist and freelance journalist, Wardha. Maharashtra police allege links with CPI (Maoist) in 2011.

Source: Sedition Laws and the Death of Free Speech in India

Allahabad High Court Order- Seema Azad Case bail application rejected 2011


HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT ALLAHABAD

Court No. – 49

Case :- CRIMINAL MISC. BAIL APPLICATION No. – 11679 of 2010

Petitioner :- Smt. Seema Azad
Respondent :- State Of U.P.
Petitioner Counsel :- Ankur Sharma,Daya Shankar Mishra,Ravi Kiran Jain
Respondent Counsel :- Govt. Advocate

Hon’ble Shri Kant Tripathi,J.
The present bail application has been filed by the applicant Smt. Seema Azad in the case crime no. 37/2010, under sections 18, 20, 21, 23(2) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (in short ‘Act of 1967’) and section 120, 121, 121-A of the Indian Penal Code (in short ‘IPC’), police station Khuldabad, district Allahabad.
Heard Mr. Ravi Kiran Jain, learned senior counsel assisted by Mr. Ankur Sharma for the applicant and the learned AGA for the State and perused the record.
Mr. Ravi Kiran Jain, the learned senior counsel submitted that there is no evidence against the applicant except her own statement and the statement of co-accused Vishwa Vijai @ Kamal, who is the husband of the applicant. According to the F.I.R. the applicant Smt. Seema Azad and her husband are members of terrorist organisation, Communist Party of India (Maoist), [in short ‘CPI (Maoist)’] and they were found in possession of anti national literatures specified in the F.I.R. Mr. Jain further submitted that mere possession of pamphalates, magazines and other documents does not constitute the offences under sections 18, 20, 21 and 23(2) of the Act of 1967 and sections 120, 121 and 121-A IPC. There is no material to support that the applicant is an active member of the CPI (Maoist), which is alleged to be a terrorist organisation, within the meaning of the Act of 1967, and has been specified as such in the schedule to the said Act.
Mr. Jain placed reliance on Arup Bhuyan vs. State of Assam, AIR 2011 SC 957 in support of his submissions. In paragraphs 12, 13, 14 and 15 of the judgment, the Apex Court held as follows:
“12. In State of Kerala Vs. Raneef, 2011 (1) SCALE 8, we have respectfully agreed with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Elfbrandt Vs. Russell, 384 U.S. 17 (1966) which has rejected the doctrine of ‘guilt by association’. Mere membership of a banned organisation will not incriminate a person unless he resorts to violence or incites people to violence or does an act intended to create disorder or disturbance of public peace by resort to violence (See : also the Constitution Bench judgment of this Court in Kedar Nath Vs. State of Bihar, AIR 1962 SCC 955 para 26).
13. In Clarence Brandenburg Vs. State of Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969) the U.S. Supreme Court went further and held that mere “advocacy or teaching the duty, necessity, or propriety” of violence as a means of accomplishing political or industrial reform, or publishing or circulating or displaying any book or paper containing such advocacy, or justifying the commission of violent acts with intent to exemplify, spread or advocate the propriety of the doctrines of criminal syndicalism, or to voluntarily assemble with a group formed “to teach or advocate the doctrines of criminal syndicalism” is not per se illegal. It will become illegal only if it incites to imminent lawless action. The statute under challenge was hence held to be unconstitutional being violative of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

14. In United States Vs. Eugene Frank Robel, 389 U.S. 258, the U.S. Supreme Court held that a member of a communist organisation could not be regarded as doing an unlawful act by merely obtaining employment in a defence facility.

15. We respectfully agree with the above decisions, and are of the opinion that they apply to India too, as our fundamental rights are similar to the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution.”

16. In our opinion, Section 3(5) can not be read literally otherwise it will violate Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution. It has to be read in the light of our observations made above. Hence, mere membership of a banned organisation will not make a person a criminal unless he resorts to violence or incites people to violence or creates public disorder by violence or incitement to violence.”

The aforesaid case of Arup Bhuyan (supra) was under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987 (in short ‘TADA Act’), which was, according to Mr. Jain, pari materia with the Act of 1967. In para 16 of the aforesaid judgment, the Apex Court further held that section 3(5) of the TADA Act can not be read literally otherwise it will violate Article 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India. It has to be read in the light of our observations made above. Hence, mere membership of a banned organisation will not make a person a criminal unless he resorts to violence or incites people to violence or creates public disorder by violence or incitement to violence. It was lastly submitted by Mr. Jain that the applicant is in jail from 7.2.2010 without any evidence/reasonable basis, therefore, the applicant, who is a woman, is entitled to bail.
The learned AGA, on the other hand, submitted that the CPI (Maoist) is a terrorist organisation and has been declared as such by the notification dated 22.6.2009 (Annexure CA-1). He further submitted that various incriminating pamphalets, articles and other materials were recovered from the possession of the applicant and her husband at the time of their arrest and there is adequate evidence that the applicant is an active member of the aforesaid terrorist organisation and she had been actively associated with the illegal activities of the CPI (Maoist) against the security and integrity of the nation. Learned AGA further submitted that the investigating officer had taken the applicant on police remand and on her pointing out recovered some more incriminating articles like Dastak magazine, Operation Green Hunt, Ganga Express Way, twenty six page confidential documents and a Nokia Mobile Phone set, therefore, it can not be said to be a mere case of possession of pamphlets, magazines and other articles. Learned AGA further submitted that the aforesaid twenty six page confidential documents so recovered were provided to the applicant by one Balraj @ Bachcha Prasad Singh, a Polit-bureau member of CPI(Maoist), who made such statement during the investigation. The 26 page confidential documents so recovered, prima facie, reveal that the activities of the applicant were connected with the propaganda of Agenda relating to insurgency operation against the State. It was next submitted that the documents recovered on the pointing of the applicant match with the documents recovered from the laptop through Forensix Science Laboratory, Hyderabad. The laptop was recovered from the possession of the aforesaid Balraj @ Bachcha Prasad Singh. Most of the States like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Maharashtra are affected from the insurgency operation of the CPI (Maoist) on account of which 75 CRPF personnel lost their lives. The responsibility of such killing has been undertaken by the CPI (Maoist). If the applicant, who is an active member of the aforesaid organisation, is enlarged on bail, she will tamper with the evidence and would flee away from the clutches of the law, therefore, she is not entitled to bail. It was further submitted that the investigating agency is still investigating the matter and has collected so many incriminating evidence against the applicant.
At the stage of bail, when the investigation is still in progress, it is not proper to express any opinion on the merits of the case.
The Apex Court has settled the legal principles in bail matters relating to heinous crimes like murder etc. in various decisions and they are the cases of State of U.P. through CBI v. Amarmani Tripathi, 2005 (53) ACC 484 (SC), Prahlad Singh Bhati v. NCT, Delhi and another, 2001 (42) ACC 903 (SC), Ram Govind Upadhyay v. Sudarshan Singh and others, 2002 (45) ACC 45 (SC), State of Maharashtra v. Ritesh, 2001 (43) ACC 547 (SC), Pancham Mishra v. Digambar Mishra and others, 2005 (51) ACC 929 (SC), Vijay Kumar v. Narendra and others, (2002) 9 SCC 364, and Anwari Begum v. Sher Mohammad and another, 2005 (53) ACC 766 (SC). The Apex Court has propounded the principle that at the stage of bail the Court should avoid elaborate examination of the evidence and detailed reasons touching the merits of the case which may cause prejudice to the accused but it is also necessary to indicate the reasons for prima facie concluding why bail is being granted particularly where the accused is charged of having committed a serious offence. The discretion conferred on the Court in bail matters should be exercised judiciously, cautiously and strictly in compliance with the settled principles, which among other circumstances are:
1.Whether there is any prima facie or reasonable ground to believe that the accused had committed the offence;
2.nature and gravity of the accusation;
3.severity of the punishment in the event of conviction;
4.danger of the accused absconding or fleeing, if released on bail;
5.character, behaviour, means, position and standing of the accused;
6.likelihood of the offence being repeated;
7.reasonable apprehension of the witnesses being influenced; and
8.danger, of course, of justice being thwarted by grant of bail.
Keeping in view the facts and circumstances of the case, gravity of the crime, complicity of the applicant and the nature of evidence, I do not consider it proper to release the applicant on bail.
The bail application is, therefore, rejected.
Order Date :- 26.5.2011
RKSh

Rights of tribals at the core of Maoist conflict – B D Sharma


“Rights of tribals at the core of Maoist conflict”

Mohammad Ali

Social activist B.D. Sharma addressing a news conference in New Delhi on Saturday. Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar.
 Social activist B.D. Sharma addressing a news conference in New Delhi on Saturday. Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar.
The Hindu

States have allowed exploitation of mineral-rich regions without locals’ consent

The conflict between the government and the Maoists in the tribal areas didn’t start with the abduction of Sukma Collector Alex Paul Menon and it would not end with his release, observed B.D. Sharma, the mediator who secured Mr. Menon’s freedom after two weeks in captivity.

Addressing a press conference here on Saturday, Mr. Sharma said: “At the core of the clash between the governments and the Maoists lies the question of ownership ofjal, jangal and zameen of the tribals, who used to be the owners of the mineral-rich region, and the model of development which the governments, State as well as the Union, are thrusting upon them.”

Referring to the “understanding” reached between the Chhattisgarh government and Maoists, he hoped the temporary ceasefire in Operation Green Hunt will lead to an era of peace. However, he added: “Only astrologers can predict the longevity of the current ‘ceasefire.”

The former District Magistrate of Bastar talked about the situation prevailing in the tribal region while highlighting the government’s failure in protecting the rights of tribals.

“When I asked a local tribal in Bastar about the difference the Maoists’ presence has made to his life, he replied that the tribals don’t get troubled by the patwari and thedaroga,” Mr. Sharma said.

Talking about the “inherent contradiction” in the government’s policy on tribals, Mr. Sharma said instead of resolving core issues like rights over forests, forest produce, people’s rights over land and resources, and the trader-contractor-politician nexus, governments have signed hundreds of memoranda of understanding with foreign and domestic companies for exploitation of minerals without the consent of the local people.

“Our Prime Minister calls the tribal people poor! How can you call the community poor which historically and naturally used to own and cultivate the mineral-rich region and its resources?” he said.

Mr. Sharma regretted that the Bhuria Committee’s 1996 recommendation regarding community ownership of industry had not been adopted still. He said tribals had not been given any stake in the present model of development despite the Centre having envisaged carving out a zone to ensure the partnership of tribals in development.

He highlighted the “open violation” of the provisions of the Panchayat (Extension to Schedule Areas) Act, 1996 (PESA) — the PESA had envisaged that “every Gram Sabha shall be competent to safeguard and preserve the tradition and customs of the people, their cultural identity, community resources and the customary mode of the dispute resolution.”

The unending struggle of Bastar adivasis


Javed Iqbal | Friday, May 4, 2012, DNA

Conflict and displacement in Bastar leads to deprivation and forest loss in neighbouring Khammam

Around 43 families from the villages of Millampalli, Simalpenta, Raygudem, Darba and Singaram in Dantewada district, lost their makeshift homes for the second time in three months in the Mothe Reserve Forest of Khammam district of Andhra Pradesh on March 26, when the forest department, mandated to protect the forests, evicted them using force.

A large number of families are internally displaced persons who’ve escaped the Salwa Judum-Maoist conflict of Dantewada and have lived in Khammam as informal labour.

Most originated from Millampalli, that was burnt down by the Salwa Judum in 2006 and Maoists have killed at least three people — Sodi Dola, Komaram Muthaiya and Madkam Jogaiya in the past 10 years. Another resident of Millampalli, Dusaru Sodi, used to be a member of the Maoist Sangam but would eventually become a special police officer who witnesses from Tadmentla and Morpalli alleged was present during the burnings of the villages or Tadmetla, Morpalli and Timmapuram in March 2011 by security forces. His name again reappeared in testimonies by rape victims, submitted to the National Commission of Women and the Supreme Court by anthropologist Nandini Sundar.

Madvi Samaiya and Madvi Muthaiya from the village of Raygudem were also killed by the Maoists. In Simalpenta, the Sarpanch’s brother Kurra Anda was killed by the Maoists in 2006.In Singaram, an alleged encounter that took place on January 9, 2009, where 19 adivasis were killed by security forces as alleged Maoists.

In Khammam, most of the IDPs/migrants have worked as informal labour during the mircchi cutting season, earning around Rs100/day and live off their savings in the summer season when there is no work, and little access to water to a majority of the settlements. The Muria from Chhattisgarh, or the Gotti Koya as they are known in Andhra along with Koyas from Chhattisgarh, have been in a struggle to appropriate the reserve forest land of Khammam for podu cultivation, often leading the forest department to evict them, aware that the entire forest cover is turning into a ‘honeycomb,’ as described by the DFO Shafiullah, who pointed out to satellite imagery of a pockmarked forest in Khammam, back in 2010.

The influx of migrants and displaced persons has even led to conflicts with local adivasi Koya tribes over land and resources, sometimes leading to deadly clashes, like an incident in Mamallivaye in Aswapuram Mandal where the local Koya burned down the homes of the Gotti Koya, or in Kamantome settlement in 2009 where one man would be killed as a Maoist by the police after an erroneous tip-off from the neighbouring village of migrants who had settled before the civil war.

Recently, the forest survey of India, forest and environment ministry, published a controversial report that almost exonerated mining and land acquisition, and yet claimed that over 367 sq km of forest has been lost since 2009, pushing Khammam district to one of the worst affected districts where 182 sq km of forest cover have been lost.

In a recorded conversation between an activist and home minister P Chidambaram during the first months of Operation Green Hunt in late 2009, when repeated combing operations in Dantewada/Bijapur led to further influx of IDPs into Andhra Pradesh, the activist Himanshu Kumar had urged P Chidambaram to look into the plight of the IDPs and the migrants, yet his claims were refuted by the home minister as an exaggeration.

Yet there have been many recent reports of IDPs from the previously independently estimated 203 settlements who have returned to their villages owing to a decline in the frequency of combing operations and violent actions in their villages in Chhattisgarh and further difficulty to settle in AP. After the villages of Nendra, Lingagiri and Basaguda block were rehabilitated with the help of NGOs and activists using Supreme Court orders, many others have simply moved back to their villages on their own accord, including those of Kistaram, Uskowaya, Kanaiguda, Mullempanda, Gompad and Gaganpalli, to mention a few. Both Gompad, and Gaganpalli have faced a large number of killings — nine people were killed in Gompad on October 1, 2009 by security forces, and in the village of Gaganpalli, from where one of the leaders of the Salwa Judum originates, 10 people were killed in 2006 during the burning of the village by the Salwa Judum.

Read more here

 

 

And Now ‘Operation Hakka’


EPW, Vol XLVII No.16 April 21, 2012

Take away Maad from the Maoists, but with profits taking precedence over people the movement will not die.

We do not think that Union Home Minister P Chidambaram is so naïve as to believe the narrative of the counter-insurgency camp that last month the central and state forces stormed the “red citadel” of Abujmaad (Maad) in Chhattisgarh as part of their Operation Hakka (“Hakka” apparently means a hunt for wild animals in the local dialect. So much for the sensitivity of the security forces). That is what the corporate media propagated. But going by the US Counter-insurgency Guide issued by Washington in January 2009 – which has been the doctrine of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in its counter-insurgency strategy against the Moro National Liberation Front and the New People’s Army, and is now being adopted in India against the Maoists – while identifying and striking the centres of gravity of an armed guerrilla movement at its core, the operation must be made to appear deceptive by another component of its grand design, namely, a psychological war (“psy-war”) conducted through the media. The unthinking and corporate-controlled media in India is ideal for this purpose. Apart from Aman Sethi’s report in The Hindu (“Chasing Shadows in Abujmaad”, 10 April 2012), free and ­independent reporting on last month’s paramilitary foray into Maad has been hard to come by.

What does one make of the media reports claiming to be from “Inside the Red Citadel”? The security forces were armed with the best of weapons, “Swedish Carl Gustav rocket launchers and C-90 rifles, and satellite phones”; “flat plateau regions were identified where helicopters could land and the Air Force kept on alert – just in case”. Claims of having “busted a major arms factory at Hikonar” and of the unearthing of Maoist “literature on making rocket launchers and on hunting down choppers”, as also the “drills” the Maoists have devised to “successfully thwart an aerial attack” surely make for spicy ingredients in the psywar conducted through a pliant media. But what will happen to the claim of the security forces of having arrested 13 Maoists, if it subsequently turns out that those apprehended are ordinary villagers? Narayanpur Superintendent of Police (SP) Mayank Srivastava seems to have inadvertently exposed what the security forces actually do when they go on such forays when he boasted about the forces having demolished some schools run by the Maoists’ Janatana Sarkar. Of course, in his view, this is what needs to be done, for these are centres for the “easy brainwashing of tribals”. In sharp contrast, Aman Sethi’s independent reporting, to an extent, seems to corroborate some of the claims of human rights violations of ordinary villagers (non-combatants) by the security forces which were made by a 30 March report of the Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee of the Communist Party of India (Maoist).

There is one interesting aspect of police behaviour that ­recurs in the Maoist version of events – after severely beating an ordinary villager, the police gave him/her some money, and if the person refused to take the money, he or she was thrashed once again. This must be seen as part of a more ­recent trend wherein the repressive apparatus of the Indian state is made to participate in social welfare programmes to convey an image of social service – Chidambaram’s “winning hearts and minds”. In the “Inte­grated Action Plan (IAP) to ­develop Maoist-affected areas”, the district SPs now play an ­important role as part of the introduction of an element of ­deception as regards Operation Green Hunt (OGH). The ­increasing say of the police at the district level in the construction of roads and buildings under the IAP will surely make easier the task of the state’s armed forces. And, the media through its role in the psy-war will then use this portrayal of the police as a developmental partner to manipulate public opinion in favour of OGH.

Coming back to Maad, is it really the Red Citadel that it is being made out to be? Is it really the main “base area” of the Maoists where the top-ranking leaders of the movement have taken shelter? In 2001, Punjabi writer Satnam spent time with the Maoist guerrillas in Maad and wrote about them in Jangalnama (Penguin, 2010). Gautam Navlakha (along with Jan Myrdal) visited this “guerrilla zone” and wrote about life in the region “Days and Nights in the Maoist Heartland” (EPW, 17 April 2010). They found the guerrillas alongside the people engaged in such activity as agriculture, education and healthcare. The guerrillas have harnessed the “collective energy of the people in improving their material conditions”. But now what? In all likelihood, with the completion of the security forces’ initial foray into Maad, the process of setting up paramilitary camps there will begin. Like elsewhere, whether in the rest of Dandakaranya or in Jangalmahal, paramilitary personnel will then pick on ordinary civilians (non-combatants). Let us not make any bones about it – the ordinary adivasis of Maad and the rest of Dandakaranya, backed by the Maoists, are fighting for their rights toJal, Jangal aur Zamin against the Indian state and its corporate backers who want to appropriate these resources. Profits-over-people is what the whole business is all about.

Police stop rally against Operation Green Hunt


KHAMMAM, April 11, 2012 ,  The Hindu Activists protest against Operation Green Hunt

BIG TROUBLE:The anti-Operation Green Hunt rally being stopped by police in Charla in Khammam district on Tuesday.- PHOTO: G.N. RAO

BIG TROUBLE:The anti-Operation Green Hunt rally being stopped by police in Charla in Khammam district on Tuesday.- PHOTO: G.N. RAO

Tension gripped Charla on Tuesday when the police stopped a rally taken out by activists of the Committee against Operation Green Hunt in the mandal headquarters town.

Earlier, the police refused permission to the committee’s proposed public meeting and clamped prohibitory orders in the mandal headquarters.

Though the meeting could not be held, activists embarked on a rally from the bus stand to the mandal revenue office in Charla denouncing the Operation Green Hunt.

Police stopped the activists near the bus station and detained some of them. A delegation submitted a memorandum to revenue officials registering its protest against Operation Green Hunt.

APCLC State general secretary and the committee’s convenor Ch. Chandrasekhar, APCLC State vice-president B. Tirumal Rao, Kula Nirmulana Samiti State general secretary D. Prabhakar, and Virasam State committee member Rukmini were among those present.

Earlier, scores of Adivasis from far-flung areas, including neighbouring Chhattisgarh, were prevented by the police from entering the mandal headquarters.

Many of them camped under the trees and in mango orchards on the outskirts of Charla after being denied entry into the town. A large number of police personnel were deployed to enforce prohibitory orders.

Meanwhile, the committee members denounced the restrictions imposed by the police on the movement of Adivasis in the scheduled areas.

Mr. Chandrasekhar alleged that the police action amounted to suppression of the voice of Adivasis and those championing their cause.

“Operation Haka ” in Chhattisgarh, India


Chasing shadows in Abujmard

AMAN SETHI

GROUND ZERO: Apart from reports of civilian deaths and property damage, the outcomes of ‘Operation Hakka' are still unclear. A burnt house. Photo: Aman Sethi
The Hindu—GROUND ZERO: Apart from reports of civilian deaths and property damage, the outcomes of ‘Operation Hakka’ are still unclear. A burnt house. Photo: Aman Sethi

‘Operation Haka’ has been dramatically projected as the storming of a ‘red citadel’. The reality could be more complex.

Between March 10 and March 17 this year, troopers of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the CRPF’s special Combat Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA), and the Chhattisgarh Police’s Special Task Force entered Abujmard: a 6,000 sq.km expanse of uncharted forest described, by some, as a liberated territory controlled by guerilla forces of the Communist Party of India (Maoist).

Security forces have arrested 13 villagers suspected of belonging to the banned organisation. Narayanpur’s Superintendent of Police, Mayank Srivastav toldThe Hindu that teams in Narayanpur engaged in “at least 12 to 13” exchanges of fire with the Maoists. A nine page Maoist communiqué sent to this correspondent accuses the security forces of burning homes, looting villages and killing at least one villager in the course of the raids. In a visit to Toke, a village targeted by security forces, villagers corroborated at least some of the Maoist claims.

“Operation Haka” (described as a hunt for wild animals in the local Mariya dialect) is the first coordinated, multi-State push into Abujmard and can be read as a new phase in the attritional battle between security forces and the Maoists.

In 2009, Central and State forces conducted a series of joint operations, described as “Operation Green Hunt” by the press, along the borders of Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district and Andhra Pradesh. The raids proved controversial after eyewitness accounts published in The Hindu claimed at least 21 presumably innocent villagers, including a 12-year-old girl and a 65-year-old grandmother, were killed in two separate raids.

In the aftermath of “Operation Haka,” like in 2009, sections of the media have amplified stories to reflect an official narrative of storming a “red citadel.” But the following account, based on interviews with senior sources in the police and central paramilitary forces, reveals a far more complicated reality.

One evening last week, children sang the Gayatri Mantra, a devotional hymn chanted by Hindus, before sitting down to a meal of rice, potatoes and soya nuggets cooked at the government residential school at Toke, one of three ‘Maoist’ villages in Naryanpur targeted in the course of “Operation Haka.”

Dusu Dhurva, the school cook, said the children had picked up the hymn from two state government teachers who taught for at least two weeks in a month, and ferried government rations for the village school. The Maoists also held meetings in Toke, Mr. Dhurva said, suggesting that Abujmard could be understood as comprising zones of overlapping influence of Maoists and the State rather than hermetically sealed compartments controlled by either entity.

On the afternoon of March 16, Mr. Dhurva climbed a hill and watched as security forces appeared on the outskirts of the Toke accompanied by Udhav Ram, a middle-aged cow herder who they had caught en route. “I was returning from a wedding with my son when the force emerged from behind a forest ridge,” said Mr. Ram in an interview, “They threw me to the ground, kicked me savagely, tied my hands behind my back and marched me in the direction of Toke.” Mr. Ram said he protested his innocence, and was eventually released.

Mr. Ram said the forces moved in several batches. He and his escorts entered Toke at about 2:30 p.m. that day and were confronted by the sight of a house allegedly set alight by preceding teams of troopers. It was Keye Dhurva’s house.

“We were in the fields on the day of the operation,” said Keye Dhurva’s son, Sannu Dhurva, “When I came home at about 5 p.m., the house was burnt.” Mr. Sannu said the family lost two trunks worth of clothes, all their kitchen utensils, about a quintal of grain and Rs.16,000 that was the entirety of the family’s savings.

“We were in the house when the force came,” said Aite Gota, another Toke resident, “I told my husband to run away into the forest, but he said ‘No, I’m going to sit in the ghotul [an open structure where villagers gather].” Ms Gota said she saw security forces surround her husband, throw him to the ground and beat him over the head. When the beatings stopped, Ms Gota said, her husband – Dunga Gota – was dead. Apart from her testimony, this correspondent was unable to independently verify Mr. Gota’s death as his body had been buried, and Ms Gota said she did not have a photograph of her husband. Villagers pointed to a freshly dug grave by way of evidence.

Residents said the forces stormed the village, kicking down doors, catching chickens and piglets and seizing utensils. They camped briefly near a stream west of Toke, before leaving for Jatwar at about 6 pm. En route, resident Vatte Dhurva said, they burnt a grain store he had built on his farmlands outside Toke. “They burnt about 10 kandi of Kosara [a coarse cereal], 25 kg of paddy and 20 kg of rice,” Vette Dhurva said. One kandi is about 30 kg.

Naryanpur SP Mayank Srivastav categorically denied the villagers’ allegations,

“Nobody was beaten up, this is the truth,” he said in his office, “We treated every villager we met with love. We tried to help them and we helped them.” Mr. Srivastav said he would act upon any complaint registered by villagers, adding that the absence of a body suggested that the death of Mr. Gota could be a case of Maoist propaganda. The forces also came under fire on the outskirts of Toke, he added.

Mr. Srivastav said his forces raided Toke, Hikonar and Jatwar on the basis of prior information. “We recovered some documents from Toke…the maximum recoveries were in Hikonar where we recovered two trunks of documents and plastic explosive with boosters and detonators,” Mr. Srivastav said, noting that the discovery of plastic explosive was relatively rare. Forces encountered the maximum resistance at Jatwar village where the guerillas fired on helicopter attempting to airdrop supplies for troops camped at the village.

This correspondent couldn’t reach Jatwar and Hikonar, but the Maoist report claims the guerilla attacked the forces between Hikonar and Jatwar and injured two CoBRA commandoes; a helicopter was dispatched to evacuate the injured but the Maoists were allegedly “at its back like honeybees.” The report also claimed that forces burnt a home in Jatwar and damaged houses and property in villages across Bijapur and Gadchiroli but the allegations could not be independently verified.

In Abujmard, as elsewhere in Chhattisgarh, the ripple effects of State and Maoist intervention in adivasi villages has made it difficult to distinguish between guerillas and villagers, “camps” and “villages,” Maoist propaganda centres from government ashrams and ‘Maoist rations’ from the subsidised rice distributed by the state government.

Apart from reports of civilian deaths and property damage, the outcomes of “Operation Hakka” are still unclear. Senior officers acquainted with the operation freely admit that the weeklong exercise is unlikely to significantly change the situation on the ground.

“Towards the end it became an exercise in endurance,” said a senior officer speaking on background. “All exchanges of fire were over long distances…the two officers injured were struck by lucky hits from well over 400 yards. Why would the Maoists attack us directly?”

The nature of the recoveries — one 303 rifle, a 12 bore, five country made shotguns, Maoist literature, samples of plastic explosive and a portable printer — belie the existence of a so-called ‘Red Citadel’ that can be stormed by military action.

“The operation has busted the myth of a single Maoist stronghold if anyone still believed it,” explained a source, “The Maoists are not fighting a positional war in which they try to hold and defend territory.” Instead, the guerillas in Chhattisgarh are organised into a series of 12 fighting companies that camp as discrete units, coalesce to attack when they have the upper hand and fade away into the rolling hills when confronted by a superior force. One option, officers believe, is to expand the imprint of the force by setting up camps across Abujmard. The move could be accompanied by expanding informer networks to allow for intelligence-based strikes.

“Those inclined to view Operation Hakka as a strike at the heart of the Maoist stronghold would do well to remember Mao’s dictum of guerrilla warfare reproduced in a document titled ‘Strategies and Tactics of the Indian Revolution’, “When the enemy advances, we retreat; when the enemy camps, we harass; when the enemy tires, we attack; when the enemy retreats, we pursue.”

aman.sethi@thehindu.co.in

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The jails are full of Soni Soris


 

Divya Trivedi, Hindu

Women prisoners reveal the shocking conditions of their confinement –custodial violence, which has no sanction under law, is a part and parcel of the system

Following a minor altercation with the warden in Ward No. 8 of Tihar Jail, Zohara Baratali received severe blows on her lower abdomen that made her bleed for a full month before she succumbed to her injuries. That was a decade ago.

Last year, unable to bear the trauma of being stripped, beaten and sexually assaulted by three policemen inside Pratap Nagar Police Station in Jaipur, Seema Singh tried to end her life by jumping in front of a train. She did not die, but became a paraplegic for life. That did not deter the authorities from arresting her. Last week, the hearing for her bail application was adjourned, yet again.

The All India Meet on Women Prisoners & Custodial Violence held in Delhi on the weekend threw light on the plight of women prisoners in the country. Custodial violence, which is illegal and has no sanction under law, is a part and parcel of the system, with Soni Sori’s case having brought it into the forefront. The speakers shared their concern over the use of women’s sexuality to torture and criminalize them, with police reports usually mentioning these women as those with ‘low’ character. According to them around 99.9 per cent of women prisoners in the country belong to the backward Dalit, Adivasi and minority communities.

Trade Union activist Anu said, “The class divide runs deep in jails. If you are dressed well and look affluent, you won’t be asked to do a lot of the work. But others have to be on their feet all the time, even an 80 year old woman is not spared.” Speaking of her days in Tihar Jail, Anu said that the moment one enters the jail, even as an under trial, the perception is that the person is a criminal and an atmosphere of fear is created. Violence and abuses are a part of that fear psychosis.

Rampant corruption goes hand-in-hand behind the bars, says Anu. The solar heating system that was installed with much fanfare at Tihar is non-operational till date. Instead, Rs 10 per bucket is charged for hot water from the langar. Inside the jail, a mobile phone costs Rs 15000, a charger Rs 2000, a sim card Rs 1500 and a missed call Rs 50. Well off or gunda-like criminals can afford these and also good food from the canteen.

There is space for 250 persons, but 500 occupy it. Fights for space are regular and ugly. “If a woman is charged with a crime, her mother in law is picked up from a remote corner of the country and locked up too. Entire families are languishing in jails. Many of them do not know even after five-six years in jail, why they were picked up in the first place,” said Anu.

Tihar is not the only overcrowded jail in the country. In Central India there are approximately 2,500 female under trials in jail, of which 2,000 are from Operation Green Hunt areas, said Sudha Bharadwaj from PUCL Chhattisgarh and an advocate. “Around 132 women are in the Jagdalpur jail, most of who were picked up in Naxalite cases.  The jails are badly overcrowded, and more than 20-30 are at times squeezed in rooms which have a capacity of 6,” she said. The jails sometimes have only one latrine for women, and that too with no door and in full view of male guards, she added.

In Naxalite areas, the military keeps tribal girls within their camps in the name of custodial protection. Why is there no paperwork in such cases, asks activist Indira. In conflict areas including Kashmir, women are in a particularly vulnerable position with heavy military presence and the recourse to justice non-existent. Anjum Zamarud Habib from Kashmir spoke about how basic rights get suspended the moment the police picks up someone. “Slaps, abuses, snatching at clothes. I fail to understand how one woman can do this with another woman?” she said.

A scientist by profession, Nisha who is also a rights activist experienced the worst humiliation of her life when she set her foot inside the jail, even though she escaped some of the bad treatment due to her city bred appearance. Shamim spoke of how female prisoners were not given sanitary napkins and had to use moth eaten blankets as pads. She spoke against the forceful and unnecessary pregnancy tests, where men are also present and the person conducting the test does not even change the gloves.

Though there is a law in place that women cannot be arrested by the police after sun down and before sun set, under AFSPA it has been happening in Kashmir. In even places like Bhopal women rag pickers belonging to the Pardhi community are randomly picked up. Pardhis are considered a criminal tribe even today and the perception is so strong that the Pardhi women and men are jailed for any ‘crime’ occurring in the neighbouring areas, Prema from Bhopal said.

“It is heartening that our judgments read out in Supreme Court say a lot of good things in English about dignity and rights. But the reality of local thanas is far removed from it all,” said Vrinda Grover, advocate and human rights activist.

Amongst strategies to fight custodial torture and sexual violence, the need for strong legal aids was stressed. Prison manuals clearly chalk out prison visitation rules but they are hardly adhered to. They must be made functional, felt the participants. The entrance and exit of police stations should have closed circuit television systems to keep track of who is coming and going, said Sudha Ramalingam, PUCL Tamil Nadu.

“What we have heard today is unacceptable in any civilised society and exposes our society’s double standards. Women should become rebellious, only then will real progress happen in India,” said Justice (Rtd) Rajinder Sachar

 

Operation Green Hunt Enters New Phase


Sanhati, March 29, 2012

by Sudha Bharadwaj

It is quite evident that after the phase of “Salwa Judum” and the phase of “Operation Green Hunt”, anti-Naxal operations have entered a new phase variously called “Operation Haka” and “Operation Vijay”.

While certain media reports present very different pictures of this Operation [see appendixes], both the spokespersons of the Security Forces and Maoists claim that this Operation took place in the Abujhmaad/Maad area fairly deep in the forests; a large number of joint paramilitary forces about 3000 in number participated.

While the police reports speak of Naxalite camps destroyed, Maoists encountered and arrested, the Maoist spokesperson claims that houses were burnt down, adivaasi villagers were beaten, including beaten to death, and those arrested have not been produced before courts.

During the phase of “Salwa Judum” about 500 deaths were documented on affidavit in a part of South Bastar alone, and these affidavits have been filed in the Supreme Court by Kartam Joga and others. Kartam Joga is a senior CPI leader who is now in jail on false allegations of participating in the Tadmetla attack on the CRPF. This case, linked with the Nandini Sundar case, is awaiting final adjudication in the Supreme Court.

Another list of 192 extra judicial killings, alleged to have occurred in Dantewada during Operation Green Hunt, between 2009 and 2011, has been submitted by the National PUCL with a request for investigation/enquiry before the NHRC, but no action seems to have been taken so far.

In the above circumstances, certain issues arise before us in the human rights community.

Free and independent reporting in the media of the ongoing Operations would be the only source of information regarding what is happening in these interior areas. How do we, together with journalists associations, ensure journalists are protected ?

Since an extremely hostile atmosphere has been created vis-à-vis Civil Liberties groups in Chhattisgarh, particularly in Bastar, Dantewada, how do we collectively set up some effective and sufficiently high powered human rights monitoring ?

How do we ensure that earlier enquiries pending before the NHRC are completed effectively and expeditiously ?

The recent affidavit of the CBI in the Supreme Court that, when they went to investigate the Morpalli-Tadmetla-Timmapur arson incident, as directed by the Supreme Court, they were fired upon by the Chhattisgarh Auxiliary Force (SPOs) is particularly an issue of great concern, and the manner in which it is dealt with by the Supreme Court would be very important.

Since, in the circumstances, the possibility of killings of non-combatant villagers is enormous, how do we campaign to ensure strict adherence to the NHRC guidelines that whenever a complaint is made alleging that an encounter is a false one, it must be effectively and fairly investigated into ?

The role of the judiciary when arrested persons are not produced before the courts is crucial. If habeas corpus petitions are not effective in the High Court, should we consider moving the Supreme Court directly ?

The Government is in a denial mode in which officially there is no armed conflict in this area. It is thus protecting itself from the operation of international conventions relating to the protection of human rights. How can this be effectively
countered ?

Please do send your comments and suggestions.

Sudha Bharadwaj
General Secretary
Chhattisgarh PUCL.

Appendix A : Nai Dunia (Bilaspur Edition, 19th March 2012)

Naxalite firing on helicopter in Abujhmaad

Narayanpur. In Operation Vijay carried out by the police for five days with the purpose of liberating three villages in Naxalite-dominated Abujhmaad from the Naxalites, the police liberated three villages Jatwaar, Hikonaar, and Toke where the Naxalites had their school, Anganwadi and farmhouse. During this operation the police demolished several camps of the Naxalites. In about a dozen encounters three Naxalites were arrested. One of these was a member of the Childrens’ Action Team.

The Superintendent of Police said that in the course of this when the helicopter reached to take the injured jawaans, the Naxalites fired on it, due to which two bullets hit the helicopter but no major incident occurred. During the operation the police recovered apart from weapons, explosives, a large quantity of Naxalite literature, articles of daily use and pamphlets. SP Mayank Shrivastava, after returning from the 5 day operation said that that there had been continuous information that in three villages of the Ghamandi Panchayat of Abujhmaad – Toke, Hikonaar and Jatvar – where Naxalites had established their empire and were running their own school and anganwaadi (crèche) and were working against democracy. At the same place there had been information that the villagers were cultivating crops on their own lands for them.

On this basis a joint team of the Police which included 8 Officers and jawans of the CRPF, COBRA, and District Police Force left for the jungles of Abujhmaad under the name of Operation Vijay, since there are no means of transportation in Abujhmaad. In this way it took about 2 to 3 days to cover a distance of about 45 km. In order to reach these villages, encounters with Naxalites took place about a dozen times in which two jawaans of the COBRA were also injured. There is also a possibility that several Naxalites were also killed in these encounters though they were not successful in recovering even one dead body. But there is information that one senior Naxalite has been injured. In these encounters several camps of Naxalites were demolished. In these camps, a large quantity of Naxal literature, and items of daily use were also recovered, but since the distance was too much so most of the recovered materials were destroyed on the spot.

SP Mr Shrivastava said that when the helicopter had come to Jatvar to airlift the injured jawaans, during that time the Naxalites had also fired on the helicopter owing to which 2 bullets hit the helicopter. During the operation three Naxalites were arrested with weapons – Ghasiraam Vadde, Betia Ram Vadde and Sadhuram of the Baal Action Team (Children’s Action Team) were arrested. One 303 Rifle, one 12 bore gun and 4 Bharmaar guns (country made), a large quantity of live cartridges, electric wire, multimeter, Printer, Naxal literature, Naxalite uniforms etc were recovered. Apart from this there are allegations that Jenigota and another person were injured in police firing. It was also alleged that rice, lentils, chickens and other household items were looted from several houses. Naxalites have said that Boye, Raju, Paali, Maalu, Mangi were beaten up very badly and Sanuu Podadi, Vakte Badde of Ikunaar; and Lalsu Vedde, Vitiya Vedde …. [incomplete in the newspaper]

Appendix B : Patrika (Bilaspur Edition, 20th March 2012)

Police entered Abujhmaad for the first time

Operation Haka – Explosives and arms found in large quantity. Dozens of camps of Maoists destroyed, Operation went on in 450 km thick jungle.

Reached in these areas :

[1] From Chhotedongar, Mardapaal, Kaknaar, and Bhatpaal up to Killam.
[2] From Matwaada and Bhairamgarh in Beejapur to Lekhavaada and Podgu.
[3] From Gadchiroli to Kohkameta, Iraqbhatti, Toke.

For the first time police entered 80 km within the stronghold of the Maoists. Chhattisgarh Police and CRPF carried out searching operations with 3000 strong force. In this period 13 Maoists were arrested and dozens of camps were destroyed. This Operation was carried out to raise the morale of the Police force. This major action was carried out two years after the bar on entering Abujhmaad had been lifted. According to DGP Anil Navaani, in this Operation named “Haka”, the police entered inaccessible jungle areas and destroyed the Maoist camps of Lekhavaada and Podgu.

Appendix C : Navbharat (Raipur Edition, 24th March 2012)

Terror of the Security Forces in Abujhmaad

On the lines of Salwa Judum, houses were burnt, adivaasis beaten up, death of two persons, several injured.

Naxalites alleged that the police is clearing the way for the Army.

Conspiracy is being hatched to chase off the adivaasis from Maad. Claiming that this Operation was a part of Green Hunt, Naxalite leader said that the armed forces, on the one hand, run the Civic Action Programme, and on the other, on the lines of Salwa Judum, they are hatching new conspiracies each day to burn houses, and to chase away adivaasis from Maad, so that the multinational corporations can capture the minerals and forest wealth of this area.

Raipur. Navbharat Samachar. The Naxalites were alleging that in the name of Operation, the security forces have wreaked terror on the adivaasis. During the Operation conducted from 13th to 18th March, the Security Forces raided a dozen villages in the Abujhmaad area and beat up several adivaasis, owing to which they have sustained injuries. The Naxalites have alleged that in this Operation some villagers have also been killed.

Through the statement and photographs released by the Maad-North Bastar Divisional Committee, its Secretary KA said that in these villages the security forces of Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra conducted joint operations in these villages and caused large scale mayhem, to which the PLGA has also countered. In this encounter two jawaans of the COBRA battalion were injured. Naxalites have claimed that they have seized the rations of the security forces. It was alleged that this operation by the Security Forces was in order to clear the way for the Army. The Naxalite leader in his statement has said that the villagers of Godelmarka, Ikonaar, Jetvaaya, Podenaar and Toke villages have been affected the most. It has been said that an adivaasi named Dunga has been killed in the course of beating. It has also been said that some houses of the adivaasis have also been burnt. Idma Karu of Kodenaar has not been produced before the court even after being arrested by the police. In this statement issued, it was said that more than 3000 jawaans of the CRPF, STF, COBRA and BSF were involved.

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