Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Women and Salwa Judum

Got the following via email, a report form Chattisgarh.
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The ruling classes of the country have initiated Salva Judum (SJ) to
completely destroy the Maoist movement in Danda Karnya (DK). They started
the campaign from the village Karkali in Kotru area of from June 4, 2005. On
the 4 th of June of 2006 the state organized a so-called martyrdom day and
the foundation day of the SJ. Prior to this meeting they had propagated that
if people do not come there they would be beaten up and punished. So threat
was the main thing to get people to the meeting place. They also organized a
Motorcycle Rally in the last week of May and created an environment of fear
in the Maddher area, from Bijapur to Bhopalpatnam. The state and the
mainstream media say that SJ is a peace campaign. But, in reality, it is a
campaign to suppress the revolutionary masses and the Maoist movement and
had been started by the pro-imperialist, big bourgeoisie and feudal classes.

The women have been made a special target in this suppression campaign using
sexual harassment as a weapon to intimidate them into submission. During the
past one year, 12 women have been killed in the West Bastar region, hundreds
have been beaten up and terrorized, many have been put into prisons, and a
great number has been forced to live in the concentration camps. After the
commencement of SJ, Madhukar and Hanif have been spearheading it in Kutru,
Vikram Madavi and Ajay Thakur in Bairamgarh, Budhram Rana in Bijapur, and
Sikka Manjhi in Gangalur areas. They have all acted in a planned way. They
collected some youths and made them slaves of bad habits like drunkardness,
visiting prostitutes and indulging in goondaism; making ordinary adivasi
youths as bad characters and used them to inflict atrocities on women in the
so-called relief camps which are set up by the police and state
administration as a war tactics. These elements targeted womenfolk,
especially those who were active in the adivasi women organisations. Every
evening, after taking liquor these guys would enter the camps and drag out
young girls and young mothers to harass and molest them all through the
night. The paramilitary forces are using the people living in the camps as
human shields to protect themselves from the attacks of the Maoist forces.
The people are forced to perform sentry duty around the camps, clear the
area of trees and jungles, and forcing them to scavenge and sweep clean the
surroundings as forced labour. The women have been especially used to
perform these tasks and they are routinely sexually harassed during this
time by the security forces. They are forced to collect fuel wood, and
fencing material from the jungle. In addition, their labour is being used to
build houses and for the SJ 'campaigners' and their families.

Bairamgarh is the hub of atrocities on women. In the Bairamgarh 'relief
camp' more than a hundred women have been kept under the shadow of the lash.
Dens have been set up by the police in front of the camps to indulge in
gambling, drinking, and molesting of women. The police and paramilitary
forces regularly visit these places. Mahendra Karma, alias Sodi Deva,
sometimes also visits these dirty dens to get pleasure. When the night falls
the SJ goondas come to the camps and ask womenfolk to come for some earnest
piece of work or just for giving them something, or would forcibly drag them
to their place and strip them, abuse them physically. After they are dead
drunk they would ask the girls to sing and dance before them. Due to all
this, ten women became pregnant in these camps in Bairamgarh area alone.
Kunjam Lakke, a woman activist of Potenar, near Kotrapal, became pregnant
due the heinous crimes of the police and SJ goondas. A leader of the SJ
campaign, Vikram Madavi, is keeping her in his house as a house servant. She
is seven months pregnant. These kinds of incidents have happened in Bijapur,
Gangalur, Kutru, Jangla, Matwada, Farsagarh and other areas too.


The government says that it is giving utensils, money and other things as
gifts to the poor adivasi "couples" who marry in the mass marriage campaign.
The Governors, Chief Ministers and ministers get themselves photographed
while distributing gifts to new couples masquerading as generous people. But
in Dantewada and Bijapur police districts they are using mass marriages as a
smokescreen to hide sexual violence on women.

The repressive military campaign in the name of SJ is forcing young girls in
the camps to marry SJ goondas and Special Police Officers (SPOs). Every
young girl in the camps is not only threatened and harassed to give herself
into marriage but also allurement in the form of incentives is being
practiced to force them into marrying their gen brothers. They are even
threatened with murder if they do not yield to the wishes of the police and
SJ. They are told, "if you do not marry here you would join the guerrillas
and fight against us." Forced marriage is another form of sexual abuse,
which is being used to douse the ire of the women against the state and SJ.
It is coercing them into submission and not what the leaders and ministers
say. It is sheer intimidation and not a gesture of help towards these women.
It is a marriage against the wishes of a person and not a generous act. In
this way many SJ goondas and SPOs are keeping young girls as wives. Many
cases are there where they have married with a second wife or have abandoned
the old to marry the young. In this practice the age difference is also
ignored. This is sexual abuse and nothing else. The Red Cross is also
providing help in such an abuse. Governor KM Seth has presided over many
such ceremonies. His wife Veena Seth, as president of the State Red Cross,
is unable to see the sexual and immoral aspect of such marriages. She says
when she gives a sari to a woman to cover her head she feels a rush of
humanist feelings and moral values. But the reality is quite the opposite.
In fact, her acts are providing a smokescreen to the sexual crimes of SJ
criminals. The president of State Women Commission, Smt. Shardha Verma also
did not see the reality of crimes against women when she visited the camps
for inspection. On the other hand, the media which is full with the
propaganda against Naxalites, is in deliberate silence over the crimes of SJ
and police against the tribal women of Bastar.

US and Japanese imperialists' crimes against Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese
women, including the use of women as comfort girls, is a story which the
whole world knows. Now the Indian ruling classes are using their police and
other security forces against the adivasi women of this region treating them
as a piece of flesh.

The women who go to the haat bazaars for purchasing essential commodities
like salt, pepper, rice etc. in exchange for Mahua seeds and flowers and
other kinds of jungle produce are routinely beaten up and harassed. They are
told that they are taking home these things for the guerrilla forces
justifying the cruel behaviour they are getting at the hands of Indian
security forces. Haat bazaars are part of tribal people's life without which
it would be very difficult to continue life there. But the government has
closed down many haat bazaars in the Bastar region to make things more
difficult for the people in the name of fighting communist guerrillas. Now
the people have to travel 50 to 60 kms. to get the things of daily use.

The SJ and police forces have destroyed 2500 houses in 650 villages and in
this way the people have suffered an enormous loss of 10,000 crores of
rupees. Everything that was there in the houses of the adivasis like paddy,
flowers, noonk etc. has been burned and goats, pigs, cows and poultry looted
in the count of tens of thousands of heads destroying the economic fabric of
adivasi life. They have killed 250 adivasis and their mass organisations'
activists in a bid to control their resistance. Tens of thousands of tribal
have been forced to flee and live in the jungles, some thousands have been
forced to live in the so-called relief camps destroying the social fabric
and culture of the adivasi life. Closing down of haat bazaars is a form of
economic blockade of adivasi areas which is being resorted to by the
anti-adivasi and anti-people Indian state. The SJ used this weapon of
economic blockade from the very beginning. The haat bazaars that remain open
are in tight control of the state and SJ criminals. These bazaars only work
in a limited sense in Bairamgarh, Nimmed, Farasgarh and Kutru. All the paths
leading to these haat bazaars are patrolled by the SJ and security forces
with check posts on all the entry points. In Matwada haat bazaar the SJ men
snatched everything from Kovasi Sumli of Keshamundi village, Ursa Sanaki of
Kesur village, Madavi Budhri of Kotenar village, Kohadam Idme, Kowasi Idme
and Mangli of Kunjam village and beat them mercilessly in April 2006.
Similarly, Poniam Budhri, Midiam Mangli, Podiam Sukki of Kotrapal were
taking rice home when they were detained and beaten up till they bled
profusely. The police said to them, "you are not living in the relief camps
and are carrying rice and goods for the guerrillas."

Ursa Mangli, Emla Budhri, Podiam Sanaki of Kesur village in Bairamgarh were
beaten up by SPOs, and their belongings were looted. Madavi Somme, Vanjam
Vidme of village Kudmer of Mirtul area of Bairamgarh were picked up by SJ
criminals when the women were going to haat bazaar and beaten to death in
May 2006.

Vangapad Camp in Bairamgarh block is a pleasure-hunting den for the police.
Fifteen adivasi peasants have been killed in the camp in various ways. Some
peasants were packed up in the bags and left in the sun. When the peasants
in the bags cried for water and help the SJ men danced around and laughed.
Emla Kallu, aged 28, of Munder village was killed in this way and then
thrown into the Indravati River in Nov. last or December 2005. Kadti Kamlu
and Kadti Lachhu of Munder village were also killed in this way and thrown
into the river. Their dead bodies have not been found till now. The two were
killed in November 2005 and February 2006 respectively. Madavi Munna was
killed in his village and buried carelessly by the SJ criminals. His body
was dug out by dogs and eaten up.

Similarly, Sukki and Ungi of Pralnar village in Gangalur area were stripped
naked in the bazaar in Gangalur and severely beaten. Also, women going to
Sherpal were beaten up accusing them of cooperating with the guerrillas. If
a woman purchases two pieces of soap, or a kilo of onions, or two kilograms
of common salt, or 5 Kg. of rice they are beaten up for helping the
guerrillas. When people leave for haat bazaar they are gripped with the fear
of being hounded, beaten and killed.

When Naga Police, CRPF, and police forces routinely come to the villages on
patrolling they beat up women and men they find there. For example, in
village Bhandarpeli on May 25, 2006 the police beaqt up three women. On June
11, Naga Police beat up two women in village Orepal in Mirtul area.

In the National Park area there is a 'relief camp' in Karkeli village. Some
of the women, who had fled from the camp due to continuous sexual harassment
and unbearable living conditions, were again arrested and tortured and put
into the camp again. Today, many women are kept in jails with false charges
slapped over them. Many among them were shifted from the relief camps where
they were brought with the said purpose of protecting them from the "Maoist

But the struggling women of Bastar, like that in Kotrapal and Tadmendi, are
coming forward in Kunjaram, Basaguda, Durgaguda resistance actions and
instilling fear in the minds of the enemy. Similarly, they have participated
in Bailadilla, Murkinar, Kotacharu actions wherein they have attacked Naga
Police and paramilitary forces and in this way have sharpened the guerrilla
resistance against the enemy and are developing the struggle forward. The
adivasi women are in the forefront at many places and are sacrificing
themselves making the road to liberation red like red jasmines. Villag Peda
Korma's Sukki and Lakke, Pulghatta's Santo, Rangegudem's Munni have set
examples for their young women comrades by giving their blood for the cause
of liberation. In Gangalur attack, comrade Inki, a guerrilla fighter
sacrificed her life. These martyred women's footsteps are being followed by
hundreds of women, especially the young ones are participating in the
revolutionary movement by registering themselves in People's Liberation
Guerrilla Army (PLGA), militias and women organisations. The deceived women
of Bailadilla are now rising up in the form of guerrillas and taking up the
gun to fight against repression.

Every right thinking person in the society should come forward and raise
voice against atrocities on women in Bastar and step-in to support their
struggle for regaining self-esteem and liberation from the oppressive social
and political system.

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