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Women become targets; SPOs issue gag orders

June 13, 2010

Ever since Mukram hit the news, there has been a sure and steady attempt to cut-off access to the areas surrounding the Chintalnar Camp.

In the meantime, sources who helped me and a reporter from Tehelka access the villages are worried about their safety. SPOs in Chintalnar have reportedly threatened to “take action” against villagers who help the press.

The following is a recent article for The Hindu that has provoked some of the backlash against the press.

A series of shots rang out in the night far beyond the barricaded perimeter of the Central Reserve Police Force camp here in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district. For a few minutes, the sentries on duty returned fire before their guns, and the ones that sounded in the distance, fell silent.

By morning, the adivasi settlements around the camp had emptied, the villagers wary of being caught and questioned by the CRPF’s morning patrol. “Everyone is hiding in the forests,” said a villager from Markaguda, a village about two km from the camp, “I expect we shall be beaten up this morning.”

Two months after fighters affiliated with the Communist Party of India (Maoist) ambushed and killed 76 soldiers from the Chintalnar Camp on April 6 this year, adivasis from the villages in the Chintalnar panchayat told The Hindu that soldiers from the camp routinely assault them in the course of patrolling operations, especially singling out the women.

“Ten days ago, soldiers from the CoBRA [paramilitary] force came to my house and tried to steal my chickens,” said Sambo from Lachipara, Chintalnar, “When I protested, a soldier grabbed my throat.” Sambo said that she struggled out of his grasp, “But when I held his hands, he bit my right cheek,” she said. Sambo added that the soldier left when a crowd of villagers gathered at the spot.

“The force usually enters the village at about 11 in the morning when the men are out in the fields,” said Jago, another Lachipara resident who alleged that soldiers tried to rape his wife while she was cooking at home, “When the senior officers are out of sight, the soldiers enter houses, steal livestock and attack the women.” Jago said that a number of women and children had left the village as they feared for their safety. His wife and children are currently staying with relatives in Konta.

Villagers told The Hindu that at least one woman in Lachipara had been raped by the security forces but was too humiliated to speak out. “Madavi Mukki had stepped out of her house to gather cow dung when the forces caught her,” said her mother-in-law, “She was stripped naked, beaten and left by the hand-pump on the outskirts of the village.” Mukki’s mother-in-law said that the incident occurred about two weeks ago at about 9 a.m.

Another young woman who was also assaulted on the same day said she saw soldiers tear away Mukki’s petticoat. She said the soldiers threw Mukki to the ground and “pressed themselves onto her body”. Mukki has left Lachipara and is currently staying in a neighbouring village with her parents.

On May 20 this year, soldiers allegedly picked up a young anganvadi worker from Kottapali village while she was shopping at the weekly bazaar near the CRPF camp in Chintagupha. “My sister was beaten up by the police and held in the Chintagufa thana all night,” said her brother. “She has left her village and is living with me.”

At present, the Chhattisgarh police have sealed off the only road that leads from Chintalnar to National Highway 221. On June 3, The Hindu was prevented from visiting the affected villages. “No outsiders shall be allowed into the area till June 11 as the Maoists have declared a bandh,” said Dornapal Assistant Sub Inspector S.K. Dhurve. However, other vehicles were allowed to pass without any hindrance. This correspondent finally reached Chintalnar via a forest route through Andhra Pradesh.

Acting Superintendent of Police Dantewada, O.P. Pal told The Hindu that he had no information regarding any of these incidents. “No one has filed any complaints in any police station,” he said. Mr. Pal said that the police would look into the matter. “There is no place for criminal elements in our police force,” he said.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. shama zaidi permalink
    June 14, 2010 9:54 AM

    o.p. pal’s response is reaally rich coming from a member of the “largest organised criminal force in india”.

  2. Aman permalink
    June 14, 2010 10:47 AM

    In his defence, he had taken over as SP only a day before we called him for comments.

  3. prem juneza permalink
    June 26, 2010 7:30 PM

    http://www.telegraphindia.com/1100626/jsp/bengal/story_12612676.jsp

    Rebels burn women alive
    OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
    The burnt house at Bagdubi village from where the bodies were found. Picture by Mita Roy

    Bankura, June 25: Suspected Maoists torched a house killing an 80-year-old woman and her elderly daughter when they did not find a CPM leader on Wednesday night.

    Their neighbours at Bagdubi village, who had kept mum for a day, called up Nabin Hembrum in his hideout this morning and told him his house was gutted and they had seen two bodies amid the rubble.

    Nabin, who stays 40km away in Khatra since the Maoists named him on a hit list, went to police after hearing what had happened to his house.

    The police removed its burnt remains amid the stink of rotting flesh and pulled out the bodies of Amala Hembrum and Saraswati Hembrum, 55.

    The Maoists had shot dead Nabin’s younger brother Kalipada last December. He had stayed back to look after their farmland when Nabin and another brother, Gabin, fled home.

    The Maoists had been hunting for Nabin since the CRPF shot dead two squad members on December 15, 2006. “They think it was Nabin who tipped off the police about their presence in Bagdubi,” a police officer said. The hit list was released soon after.

    Nabin was a CPM local committee member and a leader in his village. His brothers were party sympathisers.

    Residents of Bagdubi, a village in the midst of a jungle 210km from Calcutta, said 30-40 people came to the Hembrums’ house around 9.30pm on Wednesday. “They went inside and we heard muffled voices and screams. We were terrified and did not dare to go near. Soon after, the attackers stepped out and set the hut ablaze. They watched it burn for some time and left. In the morning, we ventured closer and saw from a distance the burnt bodies,” said a villager.

    Nabin and Gabin identified their mother and sister from their burnt clothes and bangles. Their faces had been charred beyond recognition.

    Since December 2006, this was the second time the brothers stepped into the village. The only other occasion was Kalipada’s death.

    “Revenge appears to have been the motive,” Bankura police chief Vishal Garg said. The rebels would have known that Nabin wouldn’t be at home.

    This is the first time CPI (Maoist) guerrillas have killed their target’s kin in his absence. In May 2002, alleged People’s War Group members had killed CPM member Sristidhar Mahato’s wife and three-year-old daughter after he gave them the slip. A 60-year-old woman related to the Mahatos was also killed in West Midnapore’s Salboni. On December 31, 2005, the party’s Purulia district secretariat member, Rabindranath Kar, and his wife were locked in and burnt by the Maoists in Bandwan.

    Although it was not clear why the Maoists killed Nabin’s mother and sister, police sources said it was meant to warn people against informing the police about their activities. “It comes at a time when several Maoists have been arrested following tip-offs from villagers,” the officer said.

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