States Round Up Issue-01 July to September 2010 Index Page
Full version of the report

Chhattisgarh



I. Highlight: violations by the security forces

Ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party, Chhattisgarh remained the epicenter of Naxalite conflict. The violations by the security forces were the main highlight during July to September 2010.

On 4 August 2010, the Koya commandos [1] allegedly killed a tribal villager identified as Kunjami Joga (23 years), son of Kunjami Lakhma of Kutrem village in Dantewada district. According to the police, Koya commandos lunched a combing operation in the forests near Kutrem village and were allegedly ambushed by the Maoists. After the encounter the Commandos claimed to have recovered a body, later identified as Kunjami Joga. As per the version of the villagers, at about 11.30 a.m. on 4 August 2010, the Koya commandos cordoned off the Kutrem village. When Kunjami Joga was coming out of his sister Karti Budri’s house he was shot dead by the commandos and hurriedly carried away the body. After post mortem, the body was handed over to the deceased’s parents on 5 August 2010. The deceased’s father Kunjami Lakhma claimed that Joga was hit by a bullet near the kidney and there were knife marks on the chest. On 7 August 2010, the Koya commandos reportedly visited the Kutrem village and told the villagers in a public meeting that “If the press comes, tell them that Joga was killed in the forest, not in the village”. Then the security forces allegedly gave Rs. 1,100 to the gathered villagers for “food and alcohol” while biscuits and snacks were distributed among the children. [2]

On 8 September 2010 and 10 September 2010, the police claimed to have arrested 17 Maoists who were allegedly involved in an ambush on 29 August 2010 in which three Border Security Force (BSF) personnel and two policemen were killed in Kanker district. The police claimed that the suspects were picked up in two separate raids in the forests of Kanker. The villagers claimed that 15 of the 17 alleged Maoists were picked up from their homes at Pachangi and Aloor villagers on 5 September 2010 and 6 September 2010. The suspects were allegedly tortured in custody. Punnim Kumar Tulavi, a government school teacher, alleged that on 5 September 2010 he along with 15 other villagers (including his daughters Sunita Tulavi, 19 years, and Sarita Tulavi, 16 years) were picked up by the BSF from Pachangi and Aloor villages. They were blindfolded and taken to the BSF camp at Durgkondal where some of them were tortured to extract confessions that they were Maoist cadres. One of the victims, Sunita Tulavi (19 years) alleged that the BSF personnel wrapped wires around her throat, feet and stomach and administered electric shocks for about 15 minutes. On 8 September 2010, seven of the 17, including six girls aged between 16 and 19, were taken to Kanker town, and formally arrested as “Maoists”. One of them was Sarita Tulavi (16 years), Sunita’s sister. On the same day (September 8) those remaining in the BSF camp were allegedly subjected to electric shocks until they confessed to being Maoists. Then they were taken to the police station next door where the police allegedly made the villagers pose with guns they had seized in a prior raid. On 9 September 2010, Punnim and her daughter Sunita Tulavi were released without being charged. On 10 September 2010, the Kanker police announced the arrest of another alleged 10 Maoists - eight of whom, Punnim alleged, were tortured before his eyes. [3]

Further, in the same incident, the BSF personnel allegedly assaulted about 40 men, five of whom had to be admitted in the hospital in Kanker, and molested two women, one of whom is a minor during the two-day cordon and search operations at Pachangi and Aloor villagers on 5 and 6 September 2010. [4] Medical examination of the five hospitalised men found that two of them had swollen feet and contusions on the hips and buttocks. Hairline fractures were found on the feet of a victim named Bidde Ram. Other injuries lent credence to his allegation that a stick was inserted into his anus. [5] BSF Director-General Raman Srivastava promised a thorough inquiry into the incident. [6] The Chhattisgarh Commission for Scheduled Tribes also initiated an inquiry into the incident.[7]

During July to September 2010, the State also tried to link some civil society activists with the Maoists to muzzle their voices. In a press statement issued by S.R.P. Kalluri, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Dantewada on 11 July 2010, the police claimed that the mastermind behind of the Maoist attack on the Congress leader Avdhesh Singh Gautam’s house at Nakulnar village in Dantewada district on 8 July 2010 was Lingaram Koropi and he had connections with human rights activists like Nandini Sundar, Arundhati Roy, Medha Patkar and Himanshu Kumar. [8] However, the socalled prime suspect Lingaram Koropi was at that time enrolled in a journalism programme at the International Media Institute of India in Noida. The police arrested six people in connection with the 8th July attack but not Lingaram Koropi. In a press conference on 12 July 2010, Lingaram stated that he had “no connection with the Maoists” and that the police had earlier picked him up from his village and kept him in detention for 40 days and tried to force him to become a Special Police Officer in September 2009. He was released only after his brother filed a habeas corpus petition (Writ Petition No. 5469/2009) in the Bilaspur Bench of Chhattisgarh High Court on 18 September 2009.[9]

II. Abuses by the AOGs

The Maoists, who are also known as the Naxalites, were responsible for gross violations of international humanitarian law.

According to Chhattisgarh Police statistics, there were 1,948 Maoist attacks in Chhattisgarh from July 2007 to July 2010 in which 418 civilians and 435 policemen, including 75 Special Police Officers, were killed. About 95 per cent of these attacks and casualties were reported from Bastar region comprising of five districts - Bijapur, Dantewada, Bastar, Narayanpur and Kanker. [10] Further on 30 August 2010, the Chhattisgarh government informed the Supreme Court that the Naxals had killed 300 tribals in the state in the last three years. [11]

On 8 July 2010, dozens of alleged Maoists attacked the house of Congress leader Avdhesh Singh Gautam at Nakulnar village in Dantewada district. The politician’s brother-in-law Sanjay Singh and one employee were shot dead by the Maoists in the attack. Avdhesh Singh Gautam was allegedly targeted because of his close association with Congress leader Mahendra Karma, the architect of the “Salwa Judum” campaign against the Maoists. [12]

The Maoists continued to kill socalled “police informers”. On 4 July 2010, the Maoists killed Village Panchayat Secretary of Bhopalpatnam village, Modem Narpalli and two others Morla Ganaiya and Durgam Banaiya and their bodies were found by the locals in the jungles on thw outskirts of their village Bhopalpatnam in Bijapur district. The throats of the deceased were slit open with sharp weapon. A handwritten note recovered near the bodies accused the victims of being “police informers”. [13]

III. Violations of ESCRs

a. Violations of the right to health

The tribals of Chhattishgarh were denied the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health because of the lack of medical facilities including doctors. With a population of 70 lakhs Dantewada district reportedly had only 12 MBBS doctors. Only three Primary Health Centres (PHCs) in the urban areas of Barsur, Kirandul and Bacheli had an MBBS doctor while the remaining nine doctors were either posted at the district hospital or fulfilling administrative duties. In the PHC at Chintalnar village in Dantewada district, Dr Dharmendra Nayak (an Ayurvedic doctor) is the only staff although the PHC is supposed to have six other staff including an allopathic doctor. 24 of the 30 PHCs in Dantewada and Bijapur districts were staffed by Ayurvedic doctors, and the remaining six centres had no doctors at all. [13]

During the monsoon season this year, at least 40 Adivasis reportedly died of dysentery accompanied by vomiting at Tarmetla, Chintagupha, Burkapal and Chintalnar villages in Dantewada district. The district administration confirmed 19 deaths from vomiting and dysentery. This epidemic was believed to be caused by contaminated drinking water. For instance, in Tarmetla village where 25 people died of acute gastro-enteritis so far this year as of September 2010, none of the bore-wells in the village was operational, forcing villagers to drink water out of a muddy ditch. [15] Apart from Dantewada, at least 100 people reportedly died of “dysentery-vomiting-diarrhoea” in Bijapur district by the end of September 2010. [16]

b. Forcible displacement

i. Conflict induced IDPs

According to the National Human Rights Commission, there are about 40,000 tribals living in 23 relief camps across the Bijapur and Dantewada districts in Chhattisgarh. [17] The state government of Chhattisgarh failed to rehabilitate and resettle them.

On 11 August 2010, while hearing a Public Interest Litigation challenging the constitution of Salwa Judum and seeking proper rehabilitation of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Chhattisgarh, a Bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justices B Sudershan Reddy and S S Nijjar directed the Chhattisgarh government to explain as to why Salwa Judum should not be disbanded; how long it will take to vacate the schools occupied by the security forces; what action has been taken on the recommendations of the NHRC for lodging of FIRs in various crimes allegedly perpetrated by Salwa Judum activists and the police; why not implement the relief and rehabilitation measures suggested by the petitioners to ameliorate the condition of the poor tribals; and whether an independent committee be set up under the aegis of the Supreme Court to monitor the implementation of the relief and rehabilitation activities. [18]  On 31 August 2010, the Government of India through Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam informed the Supreme Court that it did not support the Salwa Judum. The Solicitor General further submitted that “we have instructed the State government not to extend any support to Salwa Judum activists or to any private armed group.” [19]

ii. Development-induced IDPs

Chhattisgarh has large number of development induced internally displaced persons who have not been rehabilitated. On 31 August 2010, the Supreme Court, while hearing a petition on “Salwa Judum”, directed the state government of Chhattisgarh to furnish information on the large-scale displacement caused due to mining projects in forest areas and rehabilitation provided to the displaced tribals. [20]

In Chhattisgarh the tribals failed to get the benefits of the huge profits made by the companies after displacing them. According to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, Public Sector Units (PSUs) operating in the states spent a meagre amount towards Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). In July 2010 he commented that, “PSUs like NMDC, Steel Authority of India Ltd and Coal India spend only up to 3 per cent of their profits for local area development, instead of norms of spending about 20 per cent.” [21] Data of the Mining Department of Chhattisgarh show that India’s largest coal producing company South Eastern Coalfields Limited (SECL), a subsidiary of Coal India, a PSU under the Ministry of Coal, produced 950.59 lakh tonnes of coal in Chhattisgarh in 2009 thereby making a profit of Rs 2117.21 crore. But the SECL spent just Rs 7.43 crore i.e. a mere 0.5% of its profits on CSR projects in 2009. Nearly three quarters of Coal India’s output is mined by SECL from coalfields in the tribal districts of Koriya, Korba, Sarguja and Raigarh in North Chhattisgarh. [22]

Similarly, in 2009-2010, the National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) made a profit of Rs 3448 crore, but spent just Rs 85 crore or 2.46% of the profits on CSR, according to figures provided by Chhattisgarh government. The NMDC has been mining iron ore in the Bailadila hills of Dantewada since the 1960s. [23] 

Endnotes:
1. Koya commandos is a specialised police team largely comprising surrendered Maoists or victims of the Maoist atrocities
2. In Chhattisgarh’s war zone, no value on an Adivasi’s life, The Hindu, 10 August 2010
3. BSF orders inquiry into torture allegations, The Hindu, 13 September 2010
4. Ibid
5. Chhattisgarh Scheduled Tribes panel to probe charges against BSF personnel, The Hindu, 14 September 2010
6. BSF orders inquiry into torture allegations, The Hindu, 13 September 2010
7. Chhattisgarh Scheduled Tribes panel to probe charges against BSF personnel, The Hindu, 14 September 2010
8. Maoist attack mastermind linked to activists: Police, The Hindustan Times, 11 July 2010
9. Named by police as Maoist ‘mastermind’, Lingaram protests his innocence, The Hindu, 13 July 2010
10. Chhattisgarh saw 1,948 Maoist attacks in three years, The Asian Age, 4 August 2010
11. ‘300 tribals killed in Naxal violence in 3 years’, The Times of India, 31 August 2010
12. Maoists kill Chhattisgarh Congress leader’s kin, employee, sify.com, 8 July 2010
13. Maoists kill three villagers in Chhattisgarh, Yahoo News, 6 July 2010 ; Also available at “Village Panchayat Secy, 2 others killed by Naxals in Chhatisgarh”, The Hindustan  Times, 6 July 2010
14. Death stalks disease-hit Dantewada, The Hindu, 10 October 2010
15. Ibid
16. Ibid
17. “CHHATTISGARH ENQUIRY REPORT”, National Human Rights Commission, Page 29
18. SC’s five posers for Chhattisgarh govt, The Times of India, 12 August 2010
19. No support for Salwa Judum, Centre tells Supreme Court, The Hindu, 1 September 2010
20. SC demands Chhattisgarh tribals’ rehabilitation details, The Pioneer, 1 September 2010
21. Chhattisgarh Govt dubs new mining legislation anti-tribal, Business Standard, 25 July 2010
22. Mining firms told to give 26% of profit away, but govt co parts with just 0.5%, The Times of India, 28 July 2010
23. Ibid
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