It is routine to get news about deaths due to ongoing conflict in Bastar. But I tried to have a closer look at two murders from last month.
First news was from Sukma district of Chhattisgarh. Maoist had killed a 26 year old adivasi boy called Muchaki Dula by calling him an informer.
He was a resident of Goddalguda village of Korrapad Gram panchayat in Konta block.
On enquiring, his family members said, “Dula went to Sarapaka area in Telangana sometime back to work in a paper factory and took his friend Vetti Mukesh along from nearby village of Ramaram. At the end of the work the contractor said he does not have enough money to pay them and gave a small amount to cover the travel back home. He said Dula has been working for him for a long time and he will send the rest of the money for Mukesh with Dula. Contractor never paid that money but Mukesh feels that Dula has cheated him. In anger he went to Maoists and told them that Dula is an informer for the police.”
When asked if they complained about it to police, they said “if it was against police we can file an FIR but going against Maoists is risky”.
“Most of our family members escaped to Andhra Pradesh at the time of Salwa Judum campaign when police were forcing villagers to shift to roadside camps in 2005” said Unga, Dula’s elder brother. So Dula came to work in Andhra and Telangana every year with family help.
He remembered, “one day we had decided to go back in 2006 at the time of the seed festival because we had not worshipped our village deity for a long time. 50-60 Maoists had encircled and killed 7 of us. Our fellow villagers who went to Salwa Judum camps were also with us who were the main target of Maoists. After Salwa Judum finished, many went back to the village though we had always asked Dual not to.”
“There was one more incidence of violence before in our village when Maoists killed our Patel ( village head) and asked his family to leave.
Salwa Judum and police forces attacked and killed in nearby villages but we had left before they could come. They also burnt many houses”.
No one published news of Dula’s death.
The second news I read in the papers where family members alleged that a police team picked up a 18 year old adivasi girl called Paiko Veko from her home and killed her after raping. The newspapers had reported earlier quoting police that a District Reserve Police team had killed a Naxal with a reward of 2 lakhs on her head after an encounter.
Village head of Chinger (Niram is a village under Chinger Gram Panchayat) had told media persons that the police story was false and no encounter took place on that day. Village heads from nearby villages also corroborated his story. Police continued with their old version and also said there was no mention of rape in autopsy report.
Village head Ramlal Netam told me” I live out of the village in fear of Maoists but the killers were from Pallewaya which also comes under my Panchayat. They themselves were not Maoists but surrendered sometime back to get money from Police. They knew that some who surrendered also got jobs in the police.”
“Laxman was the team leader of that group and they were under intense pressure from police bosses to get more surrenders. Paike was with Maoists for some time before and also used to help them when they visited the village. There are 10 people in jails from my village though none of them had any connection with Maoists. Police caught hold of them when they visited haats (weekly market). 6 of them were released before and are back home. They were also detained unnecessarily.”
Sunita Xalxo, health worker from the village told me, “Niram was a big village with more than 100 houses but after Salwa Judum around 70 families ran away and still live in camps or here and there. The whole village got disturbed after Salwa Judum. Since no violent incident has taken place in our village though there have been many cases nearby.”
Paike was about to get married on 10th June. And Dula had eloped with a girl from nearby Malkangiri only last month. His family members said, “We could not arrange their marriage by then and now the girl has gone back to Odisha to her parents. Villagers do invite us back to the village and we know if we file FIR we will get compensation but what will money do if we can’t be alive.”
Police in Chhattisgarh say Maoists have killed 1769 people in the last 20 years after calling them “informers”. Dula’s name will not be added to the list. Locals say, like Dula’s family, the majority don’t go to police in fear after Maoist atrocities.
According to Govt figures more than 9000 civilians like Paike have died in cross fire here in the last 20 years. Maoists are prompt in sending out stories of police atrocities but Maoist killings are rarely reported.
Now the question is, was it necessary for Paike and Dula to get killed? Will perpetrators and the people who forced them will ever be punished? And will their deaths pave the path of “a better world” as both sides claim while continuing with these killings?
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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